by Joseph Matheny on September 21, 2007


James Curcio.

“Platoons of the latest replicas of Banksy roam the landscape, led by General Clone Banksy, a talentless nobody who once found a sample of Banksy DNA on an empty spray can. A rowdy gang of Tracey Ermin’s wrestle half a dozen dazed Andy Warhol’s to the ground. It is the future and all forms of art are free, perfect replicas exist of every masterpiece ever created, copyright and ownership are meaningless, ideas are cheap and replicated ad infinitum. Artists have realised that their own identity is the only thing they can own or control, so fans become clones of artists in order to spread their art/identity. One final piece of uncorrupted art remains, yet to be copied: a living story told by Neonate Muses.” – Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Part One of Dead Language, at EsoZone 2007. (Stay tuned for part 2.)
(Stay with it, things really start several minutes in.)


When you learn how to write an article(tm), you are generally taught that you’re supposed to frame things for your audience with your lead. But in this case I would only be giving you a copy of a copy of a copy. When you’re posed with a performance like Dead Language, it doesn’t so much matter what your critique is. I don’t come away from this with any need to make sense of a plot or analyze the performance based on traditional criteria. I’m not thinking anything at all. Everything that happened was visceral, emotional, possibly subconscious. So what can I tell you? If you went to see a play, and it terrified you so much you pissed all over yourself and broke your leg trying to flee the building, would that be a “good” play?

Not saying that my experience of Dead Language was one of terror, but I think you can see my point: this is not like watching Les Miserables.

Short of being at ground zero, the video above gives you a vicarious, even voyeristic glimpse into… What? Call it weaponized art. Call it ritual. Simply call it the experience of what happens when language dies. Just don’t call it a play or one of this group might just show up in your nightmares and kill you.

After watching – or perhaps participating – in this performance, I had a chance to talk about some of the concepts that played

into this work of interactive theatre with John Harrigan, the writer and director of the Foolish People.

In my previous article

target="_blank">Redefining The Real I wrote:

“Reality as fiction? Fiction as reality? In this day and age, it seems we

need to re-evaluate what these things even mean. We have moved beyond

post-modern ponderances of “the reality of the simulacra” (or copy) to

something more immediate – are our relationships with individuals, conducted

through electronic medium, any more or less valid than those that occur

outside of those confines? Should we feel just as hurt if they die? Feel

just as cheated if it turns out their death was merely a part of some

elaborate game, or conversely, if real deaths are written off as part of a

game of a more sinister kind?”

The work that you do seems to play with a lot of these ideas about real and not real – utilizing

theatre as a means of interacting with an audience, making that “fictional” space

“real,” and bringing them in, hopefully, to an experience they simply

couldn’t have in a normal theatre situation. One where there is the audience

sitting safely over here, and the actors over there on stage…

John Harrigan: For me the problem of this issue is that the Internet cuts us

off from the majority of our basic senses and forces us to engage senses

that are still in development and are not fully evolved. The Internet is

such an important tool, but we have been tricked into believing it is the

ultimate destination, when as you know more than most, it is not. Also the

majority of the time we are investing in character/archetypes which are not

our own, they belong to myths that have been created by others who are not

fully equipped to lead people blindly into myth.

The majority of story makers have let us down, not seeing that they belong

to a very important order that have existed within our species for a very

long time, fulfilling a very important task.
As Shaman, Magician and Witch it would have been vital for the story maker

to lead society/culture into confrontation with key archetypes in the

adaptation of personal information into key myths which must be confronted

and overcome to allow us to individually and collectively to evolve, to


I couldn’t agree more. However, isn’t this an issue, no matter what

medium you’re using to develop myths?

Yes it is, unless the myth offers direct real time interaction in the flesh

and if like the net it presents itself from some quarters as a replacement

for the meat, the Internet is immediate and offers us real time responses,

the difference is you cant see the twitch of the eye, or the sweat on the

face of someone as they manifest pure archetype. This level of depth causes

interesting feedback loops. Music of course offers easily the most direct

and immediate manifestation of Myth.

Yes, and also possibly the most subjective. Also while on that- what

exactly do you mean when you use the word ‘myth’? I assume we’re both kind

of coming from a Joseph Campbell sort of interpretation, as the cross-roads

between personal consciousness and the cultural and universal spheres, but a

lot of people might think you mean the more colloquial definition- “a story

that’s not true.” Something to amuse or frighten children with, something

you were forced to read in grade school, that kind of thing…

Myth means many things to me, but if I was to locate it in its purest form,

I would say its the moment when someone realizes that their own story is

pure narrative and as important and vital as any character. Dead, alive,

real or unreal.

Right, yes, this is what I was getting at with ‘Redefining The Real.’ In

regard to that, how do you see yourselves as creating myths? –I assume,

from what I’ve seen, that that’s the case.

I see myself as the narrative engine of Foolish People, a Noumenal Engine

that’s more or less a machine that pumps out myths with the ultimate goal of

changing everything inside and outside.

At the Dead Language performance, I was introduced first

hand to that ‘Noumenal Engine.’ You were hooded, essentially in a cage, and

in a deep trance of some kind, I was brought over, and you conveyed a sort

of “Jabberwocky” message- “All mimsy were the borogoves.” Subconscious


I think this experience made the missive you posted online before the performance make a whole lot more sense:

“We create ritual art, theatre, film and meta-events.

Some of the usual terms that apply to the world of theatre are not

applicable to our work. For example we do not create PLAYS.

The use of Theatrical terminology is a contentious issue for us as a

Magickal Order.

Theatre is full of the most awful and weak terms to describe a sacred art.

For the last hundred years the majority of my contemporaries have worked

tirelessly to weaken theatre with soft minds and pointless works of

entertainment that have been placed between our minds and what throbs all

around us.

The work conducted by the master magician Artaud has been deformed and torn

down by an army of wasted flesh who are only interested in money, fame and


FoolishPeople conducted the Eden Working within ‘Dead Language’ this weekend

at EsoZone to begin a new era within our work with the creation and

instigation of a new ritual movement: The Theatre of Manifestation.

We conduct a Theatre of Manifestation and create Weaponised Art in various


We don’t fucking make plays.”

That pretty much says it all. How did you come on the concept for the Foolish People, anyhow? And what has

the process of developing art that is so personal been like, working with a


FP came about first as a brand name for my own artistic work. Live Art,

Ritual Theatre, etc. It’s now of course a mean and efficient Egregore. It

can stir up shit when it needs to. Love when it has to, nurture it’s members

and the audience that its stand shoulder to shoulder with in it’s desire to

see us shift and engage fully with each other and every dimension available

to us as a species.

It’s been an amazing ride, horrible at times. It’s eaten me alive and spat

the gristly good bits out and reformed them as something that’s generally a

more useful and efficient manifestation. It’s been beyond deeply personal,

it’s gone through me and out the other-side, taken me to secret military

bases, introduced me to future and past selves. It’s been incredible. Just

alone for the people I have met and worked with.

As it should be with all ritual, or art. Are there any overarching ideas

influencing your work now, aside from this intent?

We are now in a position in which reality is throbbing with unanswered

questions, our world has shifted and now plans to plot the ultimate

conclusion to the myth of the human as we climb towards 2012 or whatever end

world Ascension scenario you invest in.

Funny you bring up 2012… We just ran several related articles on the

subject here on Alterati. When I was working on

href="" target="_blank">Fas Ferox and

href="" target="_blank">Fallen Nation

many of those ideas came into play too, though it was a bit before the crazy

seemed to really hit… which is right now, it seems.

I’m looking forward to having sometime to sit down and read Fallen

Nation and some of the other stuff that’s coming out remixing the general

myth of 2012, I desperately feel like i need to feed my brain at the moment,

this year has involved pumping stuff out and i haven’t had much time to feed

my mind.

I know, that’s kind of how I’m feeling at the moment. What do you make of

those myths? And are any of the myths you’ve been developing based on that


To be honest, for me I don’t care if it is 2012 or not. If 2012 is now, five

years or never. Its not important to me if people believe in it or not as

significant time marker for us as a species. As a writer I recognize its

significance as a narrative peak, and I choose to endorse that within my own

mythic reality. At the moment I’m working within Myth that’s set after 2012.

Dead Language is set quite sometime after 2012. After culture has died and

we have inherited a zombie culture feeding on itself.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

FP have just completed Desecration, which was a completely immersive Meta

Event that nearly killed me and other FP members due to a rather intense

Entity possession… Told simultaneously over the four levels of the

Galleries of Justice in Nottingham, which used to be a working court with

prisons, caves, gallows etc. It once had IRA prisoners and a lot of the

miners from the eighties miners strike in the UK locked up within it. The

place was and is a fucking amazing place for any Hyper-Dimensional artist to

work within.

I have just started work on version 1.0 of Dead Language a Weaponized Art

piece for the ICA in London, which opens on October the 18th. The Beta

version of Dead Language was presented at esoZone… FP are about to leave

for Prague for preparations with various Hyper Dimensions for Dead Language.

Then late October I begin work on the script for FoolishPeople’s first full

length movie project, which should be out sometime late 08/09 also possibly

another film project which I’m excited about the prospect of. I’m also

working on killing off the “Kind of” meme from my vocabulary. Its weak and

is a retroactive throw back signal from a time when I was thick little

product of England’s council estate ghettos with no idea who or what I


Well it’s been a pleasure talking to you, and I hope we can collaborate

more in the future – or just kick back for drinks sometime.

Foolish People



=search_videos&x=0&y=0" target="_blank">More EsoZone vids on



pics on flickr.


Czillian September 21, 2007 at 10:59 am

seems like pseudo-crowleyian wannabee surrealist performance art conceiling some kind of chock NLP messaging to it’s audiance who will succeed in creating something even more degrated……..fruitless!

Laura Welshq September 22, 2007 at 8:54 am

No, I saw two episodes of FoolishPeoples Dark Nights project, Czillian you couldnt be further from the truth. Cannot wait to see Dead Language at the ICA, already got my tickets.

popjellyfish September 24, 2007 at 7:37 pm

The best and worst part of Foolish People is the same of theatrical performance. It’s one of the most intense experiences of creativity I’ve had, but it’s only truly realized when you’re actually there. Reproduction of the experience through pictures or video comes nowhere close to doing it justice. Moreso than any other creative medium.

I will be in London next year, and if I can help it, I’m going to experience them again.

Nekospecial September 28, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Czillian — here’s 2 easy steps to help you enjoy the Foolish People perfomance:

1. Remove head from ass.
2. Repeat step 1, if necessary.

You’re welcome!

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