An Ambulance to the Future (The Second Chance)

Martin O’Brien

Touring from Spring 2024

Images: Martin O’Brien, An Ambulance to the Future  (The Second Chance), 2023. Stills from video. Videography and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi.

In ‘An Ambulance to the Future’, Death meets a man for sex. The cost is immortality.

Mixing video, live performance action and parables, the work paints the picture of life lived over and over again, a life that doesn’t need water or oxygen, a life without the promise of an end point. It is a meditation on endings and new beginnings. With his usual intensity and wit, this work continues Martin O’Brien’s explorations of the politics of death by asking what the idea of immortality can help us understood about being mortal.

‘An Ambulance to the Future (The Second Chance)’ premiered at Whitechapel Gallery in May 2023 and was presented as part of Martin O’Brien’s year as ‘Writer-in-Residence’.

Content note: the performance contains nudity, footage of scrotal piercing, discussion of sex and death, and spanking.

funders and support

Commissioned by Whitechapel Gallery. Funded and supported by Arts Council England, the Leverhulme Trust and Queen Mary University of London. Produced by FUTURERITUAL.


Lead artist ~ Martin O’Brien

Videography ~ Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi

Performers (Live) ~ Franko B, Zack Mennell
Performers (Film) ~ Ali Campbell, Ash McNaughton, Carolyn Naish, Ewan Hindes, Pianka M, Regina Jay

about the artist

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. 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. 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 and Sky Arts television. He is currently senior lecturer in Live Art at Queen Mary University of London.

key touring information

The work is available for touring from early Spring 2024. Key audience groups are: LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and chronic conditions, people affiliated with kink practices, Live Art and performance art lovers.

The work calls for an older performer to perform the spanking action. Ideally this would be someone drawn from the local community.

There are a minimum of 3 people on the road (Martin, a performance assistant and a production manager), however if we need to bring a spanker, then there will be 4.

The work is exceptionally low-fi in terms of technical needs. The video shows the work in an auditorium. We will be working on a lighting design to use in theatrical spaces in Winter 2023. We can adapt technical requirements to venue specs.

Martin has a very established teaching practice and is available to do workshops, lectures and Q&A’s around the performance.

Future Ritual: Land, Art, Faith, Performance CIC

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