a participatory live art project about living and dying queerly

The Last Breath Society

(Applications Closed)

Photo by Holly Revell, 2021.

The Last Breath Society is a creative engagement project led by artist Martin O’Brien. The project explores how performance art can be a way of processing mortality, illness, grief and loss. We invite queer people impacted by these conditions and experiences to join us in this process. Sessions will be held in person across the winter months in London.

If what we are offering resonates with you and you feel able to commit to the process and our requests around care and responsibility, then there is information below on how to join the Last Breath Society.


Medicine is keeping me alive and it’s amazing, but I have to give full control to the doctors so I can continue living. Illness and its treatments strip you of agency and it feels like art is a place – maybe the only place – where you can regain agency over your body.”

Martin’s practice is concerned with death and dying, with what it means to be born with a life-shortening disease, and with the philosophical implications of living longer than expected.

Across the autumn and winter we will meet for four weekenders. At each, we will focus on different creative methodologies drawn from Martin’s practice to explore our experiences of mortality and grief. Currently, we are thinking of working through image making, writing, site-responsive and time-based practices.

As a participant, you will be guided through tasks and exercises by Martin and others, hear from artists and thinkers engaged in this work professionally, create and share your own work or creative responses, and have the option to exhibit something made during the process at a closing event.


That so much of this legacy also carries the mark of trauma reminds us that live art, at it’s best, places itself on the frontline of life itself, where loss and death reveal themselves as the ground from which creativity and love grow.
Peggy Phelan, Live Art in LA

The deeply emotional nature of the topics we aim to explore means that personal and collective risk will be present during the process. While we welcome risk as a necessary condition of being alive, we ask potential participants to read this information fully and carefully consider if this process will be appropriate and beneficial to them at the current moment, and if they can in good faith commit to supporting their own wellbeing and that of the group.

As facilitators, we commit to leading the process with artistic and human compassion, but we cannot commit to offering psychological or other professional modes of care. While we will co-agree practices of accountability and care within the process, ultimately each person’s psychological wellbeing is their own responsibility.

The Last Breath Society should not be understood as a therapeutic process and those receiving therapeutic care should seek the advice of their therapist, doctor or counselor before applying.

The Last Breath Society should be understood as a primarily artistic and creative space, where we will explore what performance art can teach us about living, dying and grieving.

Prior to beginning the sessions, participants will be invited to complete a ‘Braver Spaces’ survey, helping us to understand how best to facilitate access and care in the process. In the first meeting, we will co-agree a set of working practices to support wellbeing. While we hope that everyone is able to stay the course, we understand that people may have to leave the process and this is OK.


The Last Breath Society will take place in wheelchair accessible spaces.

Information and discussion will be held primarily in spoken and written English.

We have a modest discretionary fund to support accessibility within the process. We will connect with participants around this in advance of the process.

Please email with further questions to producing@futureritual.co.uk


The project is facilitated by Martin O’Brien and Joseph Morgan Schofield. Guest facilitators will join the process.

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, and Whitechapel Gallery (London) in 2023. He is winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual and Performing Arts 2022. He is writer in residence at Whitechapel Gallery throughout 2023. 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. His work has been featured on BBC radio, The Guardian, and Sky Arts television. He received a PhD from the University of Reading in 2014. He is currently senior lecturer in Live Art at Queen Mary University of London.

Joseph Morgan Schofield is a curator, producer and maker. Through their company Future Ritual, Joseph works with artists to create contemporary expressions of ritual, in service of a new and more attuned culture. Future Ritual leads curatorial projects - most recently at the ICA (London) - and produces unique artistic projects - such as those by Anne Bean and Martin O’Brien - which explore belief, land, mystery and death. Joseph’s own artistic work is concerned mostly with bearing witness to loss though within this there is room for explorations of kinship, desire, eroticism and connection.

Joining the Last Breath Society

The Last Breath Society is open to queer people who consider themselves to have an active relationship to mortality, illness, loss or grief, and who are interested to explore performance art as a mode of ‘being with’ these experiences and conditions. Sessions will take place in person in London and we will give priority to people living in London to join.

The process is open to people who don’t consider themselves professional artists or creatives, as well as those who are exploring these themes professionally. You do not need to have experience of a performance art practice, but we ask that you approach the process with openness.

If you are interested in joining this process we ask that you:
  • read all the information on this page carefully and that you consider whether it would be beneficial and appropriate for you to join the process at this time.
  • commit to the published dates & published care information
  • research the facilitators and understand the nature of the practices we are interested in
  • complete this short form which asks about your reasons for wanting to join the process. There are written and spoken options for long form answers.

We anticipate that there will be strong interest in the process and we will not be able to offer a place to everyone who wants to join. In assembling the group we will prioritise those who articulate the clearest reasons for wanting to join this specific process.

(Applications closed)

Funders and Support
Funded and supported by Arts Council England, the Leverhulme Trust, the Mayor of London and Queen Mary University of London. Produced by FUTURE RITUAL.

Future Ritual: Land, Art, Faith, Performance CIC

mailing list // producing@futureritual.co.uk