Ten Questions with… Harold Offeh

Offeh Harold

Live artist Harold Offeh makes funny, insightful work to question ideas around race, queerness and history. His new show ‘Choreograph Me’ comes to the Dublin Live Art Festival this month


Hey Harold! In no more than three sentences, describe your new work, ‘Choreograph Me’.

I’m offering myself as material for the audience to direct. People are invited to give me instructions and I will try to perform their instructions. They can join in and perform the instructions or just watch.

How do people generally react to the performance?

It’s a mix. Some people get really into it and generate lots of instructions to test me. Others just watch the spectacle from afar. In reality it’s quite playful and fun; humour is an essential part of my work.

What is the strangest thing you had to do during the performance?

I recently performed in Denmark the day after the Brexit vote. Someone asked me to interpret the Brexit result. I stuck my head in a bush for five minutes. In hindsight it should have been longer!

What subjects/issues are you most interested in exploring with your art?

I’m interested in identity and how our sense of self is shaped by history and popular culture. I use performance, role-play and drag to explore issues of representation, gender, race, class, sexuality. It’s easy to dismiss, but in reality it’s the stuff we try to deal with on a day to day level. I try to do it with an openness and sense of fun and play.

Have you experienced racism on the gay scene?

The simple answer is, yes. Sadly, being gay doesn’t provide immunity from perpetuating prejudice. What I think is most dangerous is the complacency and often casual racism you find on gay dating apps. Anyone who writes on their profile, “not into Blacks or Asians” (or for that matter, all the body fascistic crap too) really needs to be called out for what they are. If you pre-judge people based on their ethnicity, that is racist. Oh, and I don’t care how many black friends they might supposedly have. We all have a responsibility to call out these people out and challenge this behaviour. My rule is if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t write it online.

Harold Offeh


Who is the biggest influence on your life?

Oh, my God. That is a huge question! I should say my mother, which is partly true. At the moment it’s definitely Grace Jones – she’s my art mother.

If you could invite five people, living or dead, to dinner at your place, who would make the cut?

Gosh, my answers are going to reveal a lot about me. My five would be: Grace Jones, Maya Angelou, Meryl Streep Dilma Roussseff (President of Brazil) and Frida Kahlo. We’d talk politics, drink, dance, sing and set the world to rights. PS. Special mentions for Whoopi Goldberg and RuPaul – they would gatecrash during starters.

What is the first piece of art you made and remember being proud of?

It’s not the first thing I made, but I remember making a clay sculpture of an African goddess when I was 12. She had an amazing arse; I thought that was pretty awesome.

If the world was ending tomorrow, what would you do today?

I’d get all the people I love together and have a huge party! Dance ’til you die!

The meaning of life according to Harold…

Apart from the wisdom of a good gin and tonic, I always adhere to Picasso’s mantra: good artists borrow; great artists steal.


Harold Offeh performs ‘Choreograph Me’ on Friday, August 12 at 9pm as part of the Dublin Live Art Festival 2016 (August 10 – 14) at MART


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