Irene Loughlin’s home—where she spent the 2nd Covid-19 lockdown of 2020, and continues to live—is a small one bedroom apartment she shares with one other person. This 20th floor remnant of rent control is a tall building on the Hamilton escarpment, a concrete monument to the 70’s. Loughlin’s apartment contains an enclosed glass balcony that she has converted into her studio. From there, during the first part of her Performance Home residency, Loughlin is working on a series of experimental video performances using her body to reach and sustain contact with the “outside,” extending her arms through windows to establish a personal choreography with the sky and clouds, changing weather and birds; and through various actions such as ‘embracing the building’ in gratitude for shelter.
Alongside this corporeal research practice, Loughlin is mining her performance documentation archive. Observations written during her entry level job in the film industry in the midst of the pandemic are included. Her writing and drawings contain references to the first lockdown when she lived alone, and the film industry shut down. She spent most of the first three months of lockdown on CERB (as did many privileged persons living in Canada), deriving mental and spiritual sustenance from walking in the forest. By walking outside—breaching government recommendations in the first weeks and months of the pandemic—she sought to preserve her ‘sanity’ as a neuroatypical person living through the first pandemic announcements. These walks were generally devoid of human presence, and she took solace in the company of emerging deer, hawks, and other animals, as well as plants, trees and waterfalls. The first lockdown in the forest mirrored her experiences as a child confused in the company of others and seeking relief in the natural world. Sources are translated into pen and ink drawings, juxtaposed with writing that comments on her experiences as a performance and visual artist. The work comes together in a newly self-designed literary hybrid—a performance art graphic novel—that combines past objectives with the emotive and ecological crisis of our current moment specifically from Loughlin’s neuroatypical perspective.