Fearghus Ó Conchúir Choreographer and Dance Artist

Tearmann Aiteach/ Queer Sanctuary (in progress)

TA:QS Hands and Pearls Photographer Nigel Enright

Tearmann Aiteach/Queer Sanctuary is part of an ongoing exploration of queer flourishing and solidarity. It’s a developing choreographic process, in which we practise and perform how to create malleable spaces that support emergent identities. It is a dance project that has grown out of the aligning of the two separate artistic practices of Isabella and Fearghus. Their dancing asks what arrangements of support and desire are available between these queer bodies and others as we gather.

Choreography/ Performance: Isabella Oberländer and Fearghus Ó Conchúir
Fashion Design: Gregor Pituch
Dramaturgy: Luke Pell
Lighting and Video Design What Next Festival 2023: Gearóid O hAllmhuráin
Production Images: Nigel Enright

The practice and work has been developed through a series of residencies and work in progress performances: Dublin Dance Festival – Originate Platform and Dancer from the Dance Festival in 2022. A Dance Ireland residency at Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Autumn 2022 and a Percolate residency at Dance Limerick in Winter 2023 followed by a performance at What Next Festival 2023.

Further development of Tearmann Aiteach/ Queer Sanctuary will take place in 2024

A dancer in a black silk garment balances on her right leg with left knee raised high, left arm above their head and right extended straight to the side. They face away from camera to a while wall

Photo Nigel Enright

The research so far builds on a relationship between Fearghus Ó Conchúir, a dance artist whose work has investigated the politics of gay experience in Ireland, and Isabella Oberländer a dance artist whose choreography and performance practice has aligned her work with a wide range of queer and feminist art-making in Ireland.  Over lockdown they worked remotely, their digitally-mediated exchange based on previous in-person exploration of human and non-human encounters on the Walthamstow Wetlands in London, where Fearghus was artist in residence.  Fearghus, whose academic research has focused on the geography of queer embodiments, initially built with Isabella solo material that investigated the structures of sanctuary that could support human and non-human animals.  In October 2021, they had an opportunity to perform the solo for Isabella alongside solos created by Fearghus for himself.  The experience and audience feedback pointed towards inexplicable resonances between these two tall dancing bodies.

Over the past two years, we have pushed further into an exploration of this strong resonance that couldn’t be accounted for by hetero or homosexual desire but that connects our two bodies of different genders, different nationalities, different generations. The project wants to extrapolate from our two bodies how we might dance sanctuaries where all of our differences can pass one another, rub up each other, against each other, rest with and accept each other.  We have evolved a performance practice between our bodies and in collaboration with other artists.  These have included fashion designer, Gregor Pituch whose approach to the materiality of his garments has given us a prosthesis that changes what movement language and therefore what identities we pass through.  Also we’ve worked with artist and dramaturg, Luke Pell who has helped our research practice to recognise itself and to link it to related practices and approaches that resist or avoid unsustainable artistic production models.



Man dancing in a silk flowing garment with bare legs and chest

Photo Nigel Enright