In the run up to the festival and continuing throughout, the TRANS LIVE ART SALON will host and present a daily blog and photography project, led by M Murphy. M will engage the new and current Salon members in conversation about art, gender and Live Collision International Festival, bringing a snapshot of the Salon’s conversations into the public eye, and giving festival participants and goers the opportunity to become more familiar with the role, purpose, and membership of the Trans Live Art Salon.

TRANS LIVE ART SALON is an artist collective established during the first iterations of the Trans Live Art Salon as part of Live Collision’s Special Editions Festival in 2016. The Trans Live Art Salon and residency is a shared initiative of Robyn McQuaid-O’Dwyer (artist) and Live Collision.


Introduction by M Murphy

Hello! Welcome! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy your time here!

I’m M (for now) and I’m project coordinator for our Behind the Scenes project.

Over the course of the festival, I’ll be doing interviews and taking photos of Trans Live Art Salon facilitators, as well as this year’s new residents. The purpose of the project is to give the public a snippet of the conversations that TLAS members and residents will be having over the course of the festival, to engage in conversation about Live Collision, art, style and gender.

A focus of the Trans Live Art Salon is to elevate trans narratives by trans people, thereby allowing our narratives to be told by us, and not by members of the cis community (as is so often the case), and ultimately change narratives around trans lives portrayed in the mainstream.

For this project I’m interested in engaging participants in conversations around how they feel about being here at Live Collision and what excites them about art, as well as talking about style, gender expression and gender identity (and other random things). I want to talk to other trans people about these issues as I think a lot myself about how my style and my gender expression relate to my gender identity, and I’m interested in finding out the relationship other members of the trans community have with these things (because in case you didn’t know, our lived experiences and our experiences of gender are multi-faceted and vary hugely from person to person. Who’d have thought!).

We also hope this project, as well as our Book and Zine collection on display in Project Arts Centre foyer, helps to broaden the cis-gender community’s knowledge and understanding of issues relating to gender and identity, and we welcome any all feedback and curiosity. We’ll be around throughout the festival and would love to chat to people about their thoughts on this project and the Trans Live Art Salon.

Some useful definitions for interacting with this project:

Gender refers to the range of socially constructed characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Gender exists as a spectrum including a diverse range of gender identities that fall outside of the binary view of gender as male/female, and includes too many genders to list in this blog post (so go research ‘em ;)).

Gender identity is our internal experience and naming of our gender. A cisgender person has a gender identity consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender person has a gender identity that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

Gender Expression refers to the external ways we show our gender to the world around us, through clothing, hairstyles, and mannerisms, to name a few. Practically everything is assigned a gender—toys, colours, clothes, and activities are some of the more obvious examples. Given the prevalence of the gender binary, children face great pressure to express their gender within narrow, stereotypical definitions of “boy” or “girl.” Expectations around expression are taught to us from the moment we are born, and communicated through every aspect of our lives, including family, culture, peers, schools, community, media, and religion. Accepted gender roles and expectations are so entrenched in our culture that most people cannot imagine any other way.

That’s all for now! Hope you stick around for more!

Peace and love



Interview with Robyn McQuaid O’ Dywer

Robyn, in collaboration with Lynnette Moran of Live Collision, founded Trans Live Art Salon in 2016. They are an artist and a student of Theatre and Performance in Trinity College Dublin. The interview was conducted on Tuesday 18th of April.







Tell me about how Trans Live Art Salon came to be.
In 2015 there was a lot of Irish theatre work being made in Ireland about trans people, and I started writing about that for college and otherwise. I was thinking a lot about how trans people were being represented by cis people, and that even though we were maybe the “hot topic” at that moment, that it was rarely us representing ourselves, and I wanted to address that. I was thinking both about makers and audience members, and how it’s hard to have more trans makers with there being very few trans audience members to begin with. Through a few routes and a lot of conversations, I ended up proposing to Lynnette that it would be a good idea to have something to address this, modelling off of things like the Fast Track programme at Dublin Dance Festival or the Theatre Festival’s Next Stage. So I proposed a festival residency designed to elevate trans people in cis-dominated spaces, like a trans occupation of a cis space, for people who may not normally engage in live art or feel comfortable in spaces that are cis-dominated. So that was one of the kernels of the idea, as well as other things. Dublin Theatre of the Deaf’s occupation of Project during you told me to wash and clean my ears also inspired me a lot. So through these things, I ended up initiating with Lynnette, and with my co-facilitator Robbie Blake, what is now the Trans Live Art Salon, and it was always my hope and intention that it would transition into a collective of trans artists, which I’m really glad it has.

What are you most excited for for the festival this year?
All of it! Meeting our 5 new residents later today, and also to meet the artists this year, who I’m really excited about. I’m very excited to meet Split Britches and Hester Chillingworth. I’m particularly excited about talking to Hester Chillingworth with our salon residents, because I think it’s important and inspiring to talk to other artists whose work concerns issues of gender. So I’m really excited to see their work, and to attend their workshop. (Hester’s Shorty is showing in Project Arts Centre at 8pm on Thursday as part of Live Collision. Tickets are available on the Live Collision website) Mostly, if the residents have a good time and feel like they got something beneifical, I will be excited.

What are you excited for in general?
I’m excited for trans art in Ireland. I’m excited for the future of art in Ireland. I feel like we’re going to see a turn away from liberalism as the dominant mode of political theatre soon, because I feel like we’ve seen a lot of that kind of work, and I think there’s an air of work becoming more radical in its outlook and hopes. And trans art is rad and I think there seems to be a really cool trans videogame scene in Ireland and I’m really excited about that, and I hope that starts to bleed into more media.

Tell me about the work that you make.
I make theatre and performance art and I’m kind of at a major shifting point in my practice right now. My work has always been about the intersection between pop-culture and identity and politics. For my next theatre project at least, the politics element will be more emphasised than the identity element I think. And community. I’m interested in hopeful anger, and how to be kinder.

How would you describe your style?
I think my style, like everything else at the moment, is in transition. Transition, for me, is not a thing that you do, it’s like a state that you’re in. It’s a state where you’re not just in social transition or medical transition or whatever, but it’s a state where everything in your life is in flux because it’s really hard to be static in anything. And regarding style, your wardrobe still reflects the first 19 years of your life, and not the last two. But I mostly oscillate between wearing a lot of black and a lot of garish patterns.

How do you think your gender identity and your gender expression are related?
I think this comes back to my previous point that transition and the various other things it involves, for me, precludes my gender expression matching my gender identity and I feel like while I have a relatively good grasp on my gender identity, I feel like because I’m not able to have the gender expression that I’d like to have right now, and because I don’t have the freedom to work out what that is, that that impacts my gender identity because it makes me less certain about where it is or where it will eventually land.

Do you know what your favourite picture that someone else has taken of you is?
Recently Humans of Dublin photographed myself and my partner and published them in a national tabloid without my consent. But the photos were great. I think I liked them so much because I think I looked like me that day, and because I was happy.

What does it feel like to be you right now?
Ehhhh, right now, pretty anxious. But hopeful and excited in general. Just, right now, anxious. But I’m excited to start this residency and to make art!

Tell me about a piece of art that made you feel something recently.
Recently my favourite podcast, hosted by the 3 lovely McElroy boys and their dad, introduced a major character as trans. And I literally jumped up and down and beamed because everything she did in that episode was so cool and it made me so happy that 3 straight cis people who grew up in rural America and 5 years ago had what they admit were awful problematic views on everything, are now making efforts to make great trans characters, and it’s very sweet.



Interview with Robbie Blake

Robbie Blake is a performance artist, singer, dancer, composer and conductor and all round musical mastermind based in Dublin. He has been a facilitator for Trans Live Art Salon, along with Robyn, since the first iteration of the programme at Live Collision Special Edition 2016. The interview was conducted on Tuesday 18th of April. 








Tell me about how you became involved in the Trans Live Art Salon.
I got involved last year after I got in touch with Robyn to say that I was thinking of applying but wasn’t sure if I’d be suitable, as someone who is unsure about their gender and is exploring that but wouldn’t necessarily identify as trans, but wouldn’t necessarily want to identify as cis either. So kind of in a weird place, and also conscious of not wanting to step into a space if it wasn’t fair either. But after being assured by Robyn that it was TOTALLY COOL, I ended up missing the application deadline. But THEN Robyn asked if I’d be open and interested in facilitating the residency and participating in that way, which was a really great way of being asked to be involved, because it gave me space to have a role that allowed me to bring skills as well as having the space to hold questions for myself in that space too. That sort of sense of permission was very important.

What are you most excited for for the festival this year?
It’s totally corny but I’m really excited about the journey that I’ll get to be part of and witness with the five new residents joining us. I’m find it really inspiring to be in that space where there is growth and open dialogue. I think at the start of the first residency we were unsure where it would go, but by the end of it that sense of growth and openness became more clear, and I think it’s with that in mind that I’m excited about this residency and the journey of the new residents, whereas previously it was a kind of unknown entity.

Tell me about the work that you make.
I mostly work in performance, mostly with music as a singer and as a composer and director. Mushy would probably be a good word to describe it at the moment, but I’m excited to try continue to investigate what I want to make and the ways to do that, because I feel that that’s not something I’ve really got a chance to study traditionally/formally, so it’s nice to continue to find opportunities to do that. And the Salon and working with Live Collision International Festival are definitely some of those opportunities allowing me to explore the work I want to make, which skirts the political. I feel like my work has to feel like it’s part of activism, but at the same time, I’m aware that the opportunities and the ways I’ve made art in the past hasn’t necessarily pertained to that. So I’m trying to find the route into that sphere now.

Tell me about a piece of art that made you feel something recently.
I was at a talking event yesterday with a lot of different people talking about their perspectives on freedom and what it meant to them, and I found myself getting really overwhelmed by the adversity in the world. I felt really moved by the sense that we all have, in a way, a responsibility to try to exercise our opportunities for good. To do what we can with our freedoms, because we have many, and it’s not just about having it, it’s about what you choose to do with it, even if it is limited in a way that we acknowledge.

How would you describe your style?
This has actually been a pretty important thing for me to think about over the past year, year and a half because I feel like for a long time I constricted myself through my choice of clothing. And it makes so much sense when you consider that in terms of gender and in terms of work that we’re going to see throughout the festival, and what the Salon represents. More and more I’ve been trying to acknowledge the way I want to be (which doesn’t necessarily only pertain to the way I dress, but the way I interact with people) and trying to not be apologetic about that. So it’s really hard to describe my style, but I’m acknowledging that I want it to be quite urban, whereas it was super preppy and fuckin smarmy and I fuckin hated that shit. But I was falling into this way of being in college because I wanted to be cool and I wanted to fit in. But like, no. No deal. So I’m trying to not do that. I’m trying to just buy things that I like and that make me feel myself.

Do you feel like there’s particular clothing that makes you feel the most yourself?
No. Well, I don’t think I own it anyway. Yet! But there are two pairs of trouser I own that are like, expansive kind of parachute pants that I really like.

You kind of touched on this, but do you think your style relates to your gender identity?
Yeah, I suppose it does. But in that I suppose there’s kind of a confusion and sense of ongoing discovery, and trying to create allowances for that, to not get scared.

How do you think your gender identity and your gender expression are related?
I think I’m still figuring that out. I feel like they relate but they’re at odds perhaps, but I’d be at a loss to explain that right now.

Do you know what your favourite picture that someone else has taken of you is?
Yes! It’s from behind me. It’s my favourite because it’s me performing, conducting, and the performance has very positive feels for me, so I think maybe it’s that.

What does it feel like to be Robbie right now?
Hmm. That’s a tough question. Right now it feels tired to be Robbie because Robbie performed last night and then couldn’t get to sleep for ages because of post-performance buzzzzzzz. Quite a surface answer there, but that’s okay.



Interview with Ro Hardaker

Ro Hardaker is an artist and performer from the UK, based in London. They are currently doing an MA in Royal College of Art. They are one of our 5 residents for this year’s programme. The interview was conducted on Thursday 20th of April. 

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Tell me about how you became involved in the Trans Live Art Salon.

There was a callout online which LADA tweeted, and it must’ve been the first time I’d been on twitter in about 6 months, and I thought “hm, this looks like something I’d be interested in” so I applied, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What made you want to do the residency?

The chance to meet other trans people and have dialogues where we’re in control of the dialogues and not cis people. I’m a performance artist as well, so the idea of working with trans people in performance art interested me. And I like travelling and have not been to Dublin before, so this was an excuse to come. It’s like a ball of stuff that just combined at the perfect time.

Tell me about the work that you make.

Um. Well. That’s a difficult question to sum up. Okay. I’m going to start from the start. I used to be a painter, but I got really bored of painting. I was also taking a lot of photographs which were self-portraits mostly, mostly to do with my skin (I have psoriasis). I then got bored of taking photos and realised that I was performing the photos so I started doing video work where I was performing. Then I started doing live performance. I did my first live performance at my degree show… It was terrible. I then did a few little performances here and there, while running a studio with some friends in Leicester. Did various little positions, did a few big performance platforms in the UK, like Spill festival 2014 and 2015. I got Arts Council funding and was making big durational works. The piece I made at Spill in 2015 after 9 months of development with Arts Council funding, mentors and stuff, was an overnight performance, starting when the sun set, ending when the sun rose. That was very much to do with my feelings towards the masculine and completely breaking everything I knew to be able to rebuild. I used a lot of clay and wool – something that I would now think is wasteful – as part of that piece. Over the 9 months of development I had a really shitty time, going through a pretty horrific break up, a mental breakdown, as well as being put on medication for my skin that was a cancer drug that exacerbated my mental health issues and slowly killed my internal organs, specifically my liver. It was pretty horrific. And they just give you this shit! There’s a video of a part of that project that my friend made.

I now have a collaborator, who’s my twin sister (not by birth) and we’ve been collaborating for about a year and a half now, making a lot of work focused on breaking down gender and breaking through shame and trauma. I’m now at the Royal College of Art doing an MA and a lot of my work focuses on generational shifts, and how we engage. I’ve been thinking about how wasteful and introspective my work used to be. I’ve been struggling with making performance lately because a lot of my performance used to focus of physically harming my body. I’ve dislocated my hip for a music video for Kermes, I broke a rib while running into a wall during a performance last year. I’ve been doing writing trying to break down normative formats of writing. I’m writing my dissertation, which in RCA doesn’t have to be a dissertation – it can be any style of writing – so my writing style is constantly changing. The title for the dissertation was originally “Sorry Mum, but my Penis is Female” but is currently 250 words long… I keep trying to define and redefine queer because queer avoids definition by its definition.

Basically my art is in a constant state of flux at the moment because I’m in my MA so I don’t actually know what my art is about. But in a nutshell, we convene among the sexual, the political and the personal.

What are things you do to take care of yourself or appreciate yourself? Do you practice self care?

I discovered pretty recently that I really fuckin love baths. I don’t think I practice good self care. I have a notion in my head that I want to, but I don’t know how that is. I can be very very insular. Left to my own devices I’d probably spend most of my time in my room, with a master bed and radiators. But, yeah, sometimes I can be very social, sometimes I can be very antisocial. And I think somehow that links in with being trans too. It makes it harder to find the spaces that you feel comfortable in, so I need to find people I feel safe around, and then I can be quite social. But yeah, baths, hanging out with friends, karaoke because I love singing and I love microphones and you put those two together and… bam. I also like telling lies, like, I’m 37, or, one I do all the time and people really believe me, but I tell people I was in the semi-finals for X Factor 2012. I tell people I sang Hello by Lionel Richie [breaks into singing Hello by Lionel Richie]. So yeah… Lying as a form of self-care. Maybe that’s a trans thing too, an enjoyment of performing identities through little lies.

How would you describe your style?

I wear a lot of things that are impractical.. I think because for so long I wasn’t able to wear what I wanted and then all of a sudden it was like “fuck, I can wear whatever I want!” Most often I get abuse hurled at me on the street for wearing like, a little bralet and leggings or a skirt. I’ve done a lot of changing style, and my style is in a state of flux a lot. Also I’m broke so I can’t afford to buy new clothes a lot. I wear a lot of leggings, I wear a lot of black, because I’m an artist… But I think my preferred style could be summed up as Slutty Chic.

Do you think your style relates to your gender identity?

I think gender is quite elastic, and I think when you push away from your assigned gender you have infinite possibilities. Sometimes I dressed really femme, and I’m not sure if I’m wearing it because it’s what I want to wear or it’s because I’m trying to make a statement. I think both are fine. It’s weird, I’ve put my hand up my arse in front of an audience, I’ve performed naked in front of an audience several times, but sometimes, walking down the street in a dress freaks me the fuck out.

What are you most excited for for the festival this year?

I wanna see what we as a team come together and do. I think there’s always a danger when having these conversations of things becoming internalised and I think I’m more and more aware of work that socially engages and subverts. I’m interested in work that has a live element, so I’m not necessarily interested in performance or theatre work that’s overly rehearsed. I sometimes think there’s a disingenuousness to that kind of work and I think things change really quickly and sometimes something that is rehearsed doesn’t give that credit and affects how people react to the work. And I think, as well, if you can make work that’s reactive, you should. 

What does queer liberation mean to you in as few words as possible (or whatever)?

… De-commercialisation. I keep finding myself trying to define and redefine queer in as simple a way as possible , and just being like, “well that’s just the essence of being human.” But then I read things like, if everyone is queer, can anyone be queer? That’s something I’ve been writing a lot about lately. As well I think there’s this trend, as trans narratives become more prevalent in the media, which is always a double-edged sword, you get monetisation. And I think genuine queer liberation is liberation for everyone, because it’s outside of commercialisation. For example, I went to Leicester Pride last year, and it’s run by someone who owns the only 3 gay bars in Leicester, and it’s there to make money. The only thing representing trans people is that there was a flag you could buy. Something that also really pissed me off was how white it was, because Leicester has a majority Asian-Muslim population, not white, and there’s no representation or support there for those people. At all.

Alternative answer: What does queer liberation mean to me? Fucking in the streets with strap-ons.



Interview with Kit Mitchem

Kit Mitchem is a dancer and writer and a student of Trinity College Dublin, on Erasmus from Boston, USA for this semester. They are one of our 5 new residents for this year’s programme. The interview was conducted on Friday 21st of April. 









Tell me about how you became involved in the Trans Live Art Salon.
Well, it started one day when I was born… But we don’t have to go back that far. I’m here for the term, and when I was coming to Ireland, I decided that I was going to try new things and do things I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable doing normally. So that started with me doing a karaoke night, and ended with me applying for this.

What are you excited for about the festival?
Well I was really excited for YAYAYA AYAYAY because it’s a dance performance, but I’m definitely not going to be able to go to that. Too many strobe lights. I’m really excited for Split Britches Retro(per)spective. I’m excited to meet other trans artists and talk about gender and bodies and performativity!

Tell me about the work that you make.
I dance, and I write poems, and I don’t do both at the same time (yet). I’ve been dancing for 10+ years. It started off as not-art – I did ballet in third grade for a year and then I did professional Irish dancing for 8 years, so that was like all the competitive nonsense with the make up and the wigs and leagues and all that jazz. I don’t miss a lot of that. Then I took ballet back up in college, so I’ve been doing a lot of stuff with choreographing and producing as much as dancing, which has been really cool. And the group I’m in is student run, which is really cool.

Tell me about a piece of art that made you feel something recently
At the end of Hester Chillingworth’s Shorty performance last night, when Hester came back on as adult Hester but was simultaneously playing child Hester, singing the final song, I just cried. It was really moving how child Hester seemed to be trying to reach adult Hester, or even tell adult Hester they were doing a good job, and adult Hester seemed to be trying to reach back to child Hester, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Like, how do I communicate with that version of me. I cried a lot. Which was super awkward because I was sitting in the front row.

How would you describe your style?
I kinda wish I had a more “artsy” style, like, I wish I wore less practical clothing, but I reallyyy like leggings, and buttoned up shirts or sweaters. I feel like my style is less informed by what I’d like to wear than it is by what’s conventional or acceptable to wear. And also it’s informed by the fact that I’m a poor college student who can’t afford to buy new clothes, so as much as I would like to change certain parts of my wardrobe I just don’t have the money to do that as consistently as I myself would like to do it, so it’s kind of like I’m always playing catch up.

Do you think your style relates to your gender identity?
I don’t really think style and gender connect in the same way for me. I think there’s definitely a connection there but I don’t think it comes across in the way that I would like it to. Like, for example, I still enjoy wearing dresses, but I also want to be seen as not a girl. And I think that’s definitely part of breaking down cis-normative stereotypes, but it’s still sometimes hard knowing that I will be read as female immediately. My gender has kind of always been more related to my hair than it has my style, because people who are assigned female at birth are conditioned to feel like some portion of their worth lies in their hair, and longer hair is seen as more feminine. I’m actually coming off a 2 year process of progressively shortening my hair, to the point where I shaved my head last February… It was a bad choice. I looked like the Imperator Furiosa. It was a bad time. I was just like, “I’m going to solve all my problems by shaving my head, and also as a fuck you to my mother.” It was like Britney’s 2007 breakdown except in like, one month. I’ve been trying to grow it out ever since but this is confounding on the problem of wearing femme clothes, because now I definitely get read as a girl, but I love my hair when it’s long. And I’m just like, “what if you didn’t read me as female for having long hair and enjoying feminine clothes???” It’s been this constant frustration of not wanting to be read as a girl but wanting to have long hair.

So you think that there are assumptions people make about you based on your style?
Yeah, mostly that I’m a girl. When I’m walking down the street, I might get clocked as queer, but I never get clocked as anything other than a cis girl. Which fucking annoys me. I guess there’s safety in that… But it also fucking annoys me that assigned female at birth people can only be authentically read as non-cis if they’re presenting masculine or androgynous. Like, present masc or be read as cis. But there’s also loads of cis women who present masc and can end up being read as something they’re not? It’s… almost like… normative gender perceptions are bullshit. 

Do you think you’ve reached a point of self-acceptance in your life?
Kind of? But also kind of no. And I think it comes back to doing art and dancing. Because I’m always really conscious of how my body looks, and dancing has frequently impacted that negatively, and what results from that is often looking in the mirror and critiquing not my body, but the shapes that my body is making, and how I can change those. That’s been a really big fucking deal, because I haven’t always been good at taking care of and being kind to my body, so I think ballet can be really damaging in that respect, but also for me it’s been really really good in allowing me to reach a point of self-acceptance with myself, or at least starting to.

Do you spend a lot of time looking at your body in the mirror?
I’m not good at looking at my whole body, I think. I’ve fallen out of touch with that. Getting back in touch with it is on my to do list. One of my resolutions for 2016 was to spend more time naked, which I did. I ended up doing a thing one night last May where I drew all over myself with markers and then drew pictures. But that’s the closest I’ve come to viewing myself naked in a long time. It just became a full body project because I was thinking about the scar left on my leg from boiling water burns and the marks on my arms from mosquito bites.

What does queer liberation mean to you?
You know what I’d really fucking like to do? I’d really fucking like to walk down the street holding my partners hand and not get clocked for anything. That’d be really nice. Not even supposed compliments like “Aw you two look so cute and girly!” Like, first of all neither of us are girls. Second of all, just STOP. Yeah… That’d be cool.