Martin O’Brien’s DISCHARGE

Symposium & Performances
Saturday 2 March, Ugly Duck

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Martin O’Brien, An Ambulance to the Future (The Second Chance), 2023. Photo by Zack Mennell.

Curated by artist Martin O'Brien and hosted by kink and fetish clubs in London, DISCHARGE was a notorious performance art event dedicated to presenting difficult, radical and marginalised performance work. DISCHARGE embraced the endless possibilities of the performance space for aesthetic, physical, and political art and experimentation.

Marking the end of a Martin’s project ‘An Eternity of Nothingness or The (Im)possibility of Living On’,  DISCHARGE returns with a special one-off event holding space to think about living and dying queerly.

The talks, conversations and performances reflect on sickness, sex, queerness, death, disability, mourning and (im)mortality.

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If you face significant financial barriers, please email and we can arrange a reduced price or free ticket.

Martin O’Brien, Overture for the End (An Ashen Place), Whitechapel Gallery, 2023. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.


Full day pass // 14.00 to 22.30 // £16 / £20 / £25


14.00 to 17.00

  • 14.00: arrivals & welcome
  • 14:15: An Eternity of Nothingess keynote by Martin O’Brien
  • 14:45: End(ing) Times panel with Kelechi Anucha, Patricia MacCormack, Sam McBean and chaired by Swati Arora
  • 15:45: Break
  • 16:00: Live Art, Dead Art panel with Anne Bean, Oreet Ashery, Rubiane Maia and chaired by Lois Keidan

Tickets: £8-£10


19.00 to 22.30

Performance art actions, sonic activations, dance and kinky goings on from: Anne Bean and Ansuman Biswas, Ash McNaughton, Electric Adam, Emilyn Claid, Maya Williams, Pianka Pärna and zack mennell. 

Tickets: £12/£15/£18

Artists & Contributors

Anne Bean

(panellist & performance)

In a monograph on her work, Self Etc., 2018, the writer Dominic Johnson wrote: Anne Bean is a noted international figure who has been working actively since the 1960s. The art of Anne Beanmakes strange our sense of time, memory, language, the body, and identity, particularly through soloand collaborative performances along a vital continuum between art and life.

In 2022/23 she had work commissioned and shown at Turner Contemporary, Margate, the HattonGallery, Newcastle, Somerset House, the Whitechapel Gallery, Matt’s Gallery, Paris Photo, PhotoLondon, as well as a solo show with England & Co at Frieze Masters. In 2023 she wascommissioned to make a major work for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival In Search of theMiraculous, with a resulting exhibition at England & Co in London and Reflect, a lightwork, for Lumiere, Durham. She currently has work showing at Women in Revolt! Tate.

“Reading Anne Bean’s CV is like following a continuous performance, a continuous response to the world… a ‘magicification’ of the world. The panoply of places she has worked, times of the day ornight, interiors, exteriors, seasons, publics, materials, concepts, tools, is astonishing: all shifting butall attuned to unique situations.”
Guy Brett, Autobituary (2006) Monograph produced for solo exhibition at Matt’s Gallery

Photo: A Transpective, Anne Bean, Queen Mary Jewish Cemetery, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

Ansuman Biswas


Ansuman Biswas works in a wide variety of media, but his central concern lies between science, work and religion. He is interested in traversing, transposing and translating across many different kinds of border. To paraphrase the 13th Century Zen philosopher Dōgen: “Before my search mountains are mountains and streams are streams. During my search mountains are no longer mountains and streams are no longer streams. After my search mountains are mountains and streams are streams.”

Photo: Ansuman Biswas, In Search of the Miraculous, 2023. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.

Ash McNaughton


Ash McNaughton (b. 1990, Scotland) is an action-based artist currently situated in Folkestone, UK. Their practice is a process-led exploration of materials, gesture, movement, and sound. Site-responsive, durational and ritualisic in nature; Ash implements methods of endurance, repetition, and resistance to access altered states of being while reaching out into the spaces in-between. Their actions encourage a synergetic exchange between their physical, psychological and spiritual body and the environments they inhabit. This practice is an attempt to articulate that which escapes us. A poetics of a fluid presence in a fixed world.

Ash is an independent artist, producer, and project manager. They are co-organiser of SITE - a platfrom for collective site-responsive art interventions - and a member of the international Anam Cara Collective. They are associate director at ]performance s p a c e[ and in 2024 launched a new festival and platform for queer art and performance in Folkestone called Queer Call.

Photo:  ]performance s p a c e[, 2021. Photo by Manuel Vason.

Electric Adam


Electric Adam is a London based artist, their practice combines sculpture, wearable art and installation for liveperformance. Adam creates wearable latex pieces and performs them as living sculpture. They seal themselfinside the airtight latex and using their breathing, pump the air out, slowly vacuum packing themself into asculptural form.Emerging from the London fetish scene, performing at parties and events such as Torture Garden, Adam’swork came to a wider audience in the live art world. They have performed and exhibited nationally andinternationally from the Victoria and Albert Museum and National Theatre Studio in London, to Cirque DuSoleil headquarters in Montreal and New Zealand's World of Wearable Arts Award show.Their work explores themes around fetish, sexuality and the body, influenced by religious imagery, ancientsculpture and a pop culture sci-fi aesthetic.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

emilyn claid


emilyn claid’s career stretches back to the 1960s when she was a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and the 1970s when she was co-founder of experimental collective X6 Dance Space in London, a pioneering organisation for New Dance. In the 1980s she was artistic director of Extemporary Dance Theatre and in the 1990s choreographed for companies such as Phoenix and CandoCo. Working as an independent dance artist emilyn made and performed a series of iconic solo works in which she found an authentic voice as a lesbian-queer artist. emilyn is also an emeritus professor and a Gestalt psychotherapist and has recently published FALLING Through Dance and Life, (Bloomsbury 2021), a book that re- thinks Western culture’s physical, metaphorical, and psychological relationship to gravity. Working between live art and dance theatre, emilyn is currently touring a solo show ‘emilyn claid, UNTITLED’.


Photo by Henri T.

Kelechi Anucha


Kelechi Anucha is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University, having completed her PhD in English at the University of Exeter as part of the Wellcome-funded Waiting Times Project. Her doctoral project examined the temporalities of end of life writing, bringing together thinking from Black Studies, Disability Studies and Critical Medical Humanities. She is a member and co-lead within the Black Health and Humanities Network, a member of Mad Feeling Collective and co-convener of an online seminar series - Cultures of Madness. She is currently working on a project entitled ‘Madness in Black British Literature and Cultures: Genre and Counter-psychiatric frameworks’.

Photo by Genexus Photography.

Martin O’Brien

(keynote speaker)

Martin O’Brien is an artist and zombie. He works across performance, writing and video art. His work uses long durational actions, short speculative texts and critical rants, and performance processes in order to explore death and dying, what it means to be born with a life shortening disease, and the philosophical implications of living longer than expected. He has shown work throughout the UK; Europe; USA; and Canada, and is well known for his solo performances and collaborations with the legendary LA artist and dominatrix Sheree Rose. He was artist in residence at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles) in 2015. His most recent works were at Tate Britain in 2020, and the ICA (London) in 2021. He is winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual and Performing Arts 2022. Martin has cystic fibrosis and all of his work and writing draws upon this experience. In 2018, the book ‘Survival of the Sickest: The Art of Martin O’Brien’ was published by Live Art Development Agency.


Photo by Zack Mennell.

Maya Williams


Maya Williams (they/them) is a contemporary dance artist. Their work is informed by Afro-Caribbean diasporic spirituality, the decriminalization of Sex Work and Queer cultural identity. Their practice includes contemporary erotic performance, release technique, pole dance and Turning Looks as a radical practice of gender non-comforing.

Maya has performed and curated creative events at Ovalhouse, The Barbican, Ugly Duck and Camden Roundhouse. With Fimbo Butures at Camden People’s Theatre, Vault Festival, The Place, Camden Roundhouse and Assembly Festival at Edinburgh Fringe. Under the name Heaven (she/her) they’ve performed at Sex Worker Pride 2023, The Kit Kat Club, The Windmill, The Gaslight and Sophisticats and share their visual art on Patreon.

IG: @High_Priestexx
Patreon: high-priestexx

Photo by Billy Nesbitt.

Oreet Ashery


Oreet Ashery is a visual artist who works across established art institutions and grassroots social contexts. Using film, photography, performance, image and textiles. Ashery narrates stories of precarious identities, featuring real life participants, combined with fiction. Ashery was awarded the 2017 Jarman Film Award for Revisiting Genesis (2016), a web series that questions how the boundaries between dying, care and self are affected by digital technologies. In 2020 they were a recipient of the Turner Prize Bursary for the exhibition Misbehaving Bodies: Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery (2019), Wellcome Collection, London. Their monograph How We Die Is How We Live Only More So (2019) was published by Mousse.

Image: Selfish Road, video still, KW Institute for Contemporary Arts commission, 2022, courtesy of the artist and KW.

Patricia MacCormack


Patricia MacCormack is Professor of Continental Philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge. She has published extensively on philosophy, feminism, queer and monster theory, animal abolitionist activism, ethics, art, occultism, and horror cinema. She is the author of Cinesexuality (Routledge 2008) and Posthuman Ethics (Routledge 2012) and the editor of The Animal Catalyst (Bloomsbury 2014), Deleuze and the Animal (EUP 2017), Deleuze and the Schizoanalysis of Cinema (Continuum 2008) and Ecosophical Aesthetics (Bloomsbury 2018). Her newest book is The Ahuman Manifesto: Activisms for the End of the Anthropocene. She recently completed a Leverhulme Fellow researching and developing Death Activism.

Image courtesy of the speaker.

Pianka Pärna


Pianka Pärna is a queer non-binary performance artist working primarily in the medium of body-based practices. Born and raised in Estonia and trained as a professional ballet dancer for 7 years, Pianka explores their post-Soviet upbringing as the foundation of their practise through endurance, duration, repetition and ritual. To understand the complexities of being a post-Soviet body, they examine the interrelations between Baltic mythology, nostalgia, queerness, BDSM, and movement.
As a recent graduate from an MA at Queen Mary, Pianka continues researching the sociopolitical implications of the post-Soviet and the construction of home outside the bounds of the biological to re-envision collective queer livelihoods. Pianka’s works exert fear to activate queer futurities whilst confronting the various nostalgic narratives which emerge to consequently distort and subvert its perceptions. Altogether, the body harnesses its grief to reclaim agency and community-feeling in the spaces it continually inhabits. @piankamperformance_

Image courtesy of the artist.

Rubiane Maia


Rubiane Maia is a Brazilian transdisciplinary artist based in Folkestone, UK. Her work is a hybrid between performance, installation and other forms of expression, such as writing, photography, video and painting. In general, she is interested in the body, language, memory, phenomena and organic matter, being attracted by different states of perception and synergy through the relationships of interdependence and care between human and non-human beings, as minerals and plants. She often develops research in site specific contexts, always considering the elements, the landscape and the environment as guide and co-creators of her artworks.
In 2015, she took part at the exhibition 'Terra Comunal - Marina Abramovic + MAI', at SESC Pompéia, São Paulo with the long durational performance ‘The Garden’. Currently, she is part of the 35th São Paulo Biennial 'Choreographies of the Impossible', 'Ana Mendieta: Silhouette in Fire | Terra abre caminhos' exhibition at SESC Pompéia, São Paulo, and 'Fazer o Moderno, Construir o Contemporâneo: Rubem Valentim' exhibition, Inhotim Institute, Brumadinho, Brazil.

Photo: The tongue bends whenever it faces what is unquestionable or what has been cursed, Book-Performance, Chapter VI, 2023, Photo by Bruno Makia.

Sam McBean


Sam McBean is Reader in Gender, Sexuality, and Contemporary Culture at Queen Mary University of London and co-chair of the Sexual Cultures Research Group. She is the author of Feminism’s Queer Temporalities (Routledge, 2016) and has published on feminist theory, queer theory, and contemporary literature and visual culture in journals including Feminist Review, Feminist Theory, Contemporary Literature, and Feminist Media Studies. She is also a death doula and is currently working on an autoethnographic project, ‘Queer Death’, which explores end-of-life care, death, and loss from a queer perspective.

zack mennell


zack mennell is an emerging, self-taught artist using writing, photography and performance to explore queerness and neurodiversity in relation to presence and visibility.  zack frequently collaborates with performance artist Martin O’Brien, notably in his recent works at Whitechapel Gallery as writer-in-residence, Sanctuary Ring (SPILL Festival, 2016) and The Last Breath Society (ICA, 2021). Other significant collaborations include those with Leon Clowes (ongoing), Baiba Sprance (2022), Kane Stonestreet & Phoebe Patey-Ferguson (ongoing), and  Joseph Morgan Schofield & Fenia Kotsopoulou (2019-2021). zack often works in documenting performance and live events through photography and writing - their photographic practice is strictly analogue, using 35mm film. They are a studio holder at Triangle LGBTQ+ Cultural Centre and a member of the Metal New Artist Network and the Working Class Creatives Database.

Photo: zack mennell, (para)site, 2022. Photo by Milo Robinson for Thames Festival Trust.

Funders & Support

DISCHARGE is curated by Martin O'Brien and presented by Future Ritual in partnership with Ugly Duck. It is supported with public funds by Arts Council England.

Ugly Duck is a London based arts organisation that supports under-represented voices and emerging artists. Established in August 2012, their programme enables makers, community groups, professionals and the public to come together around unique cultural experiences and curated events. They have converted a beautiful empty Victorian warehouse in SE1 into a busy creative space which became, and still is, the home to countless rising artists. Recent events include Pretty Doomed, Otherness Archive, @Disturbance, Performance Space, Franko B (With A/Political), Shocked Quartz.

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