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No Man's Land

November 2012
No Man's Land

Natasha Reid

No Man's Land took place on London Underground & disused Eurostar terminal at Waterloo mainline railway station on remembrance Sunday 11th November 2012, from 11.05am.

Taking place across 10 London underground tube stations, 10 musicians, 10 poets and 10 filmmakers, and in 1 iconic landmark joining an island to a continent were 10 sculptures, creating 11 live simultaneous performances throughout central London.


This one-off live event invited the public to consider why we all hold the opinion we do on conflict and war. Seven months in the preparation, No Man’s Land was deliberately blighted with bureaucracy, boundaries and barriers. The performances reflected on how society functions, how events unfold, how the actions of the individual ripple out.


The event worked from a premise that 100 years ago life for many in the west was developing even faster than today,* invention and innovation were creating opportunity, optimism and anticipation, yet society was walking blindly towards a gathering storm, a storm nobody could ever have imagined.

What is No Man’s Land?

No Man’s Land is the space in between, the space of void that does not exist unless you find yourself in it. Once there, what do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?

No Man’s Land is the space pixels need to make a picture, the gaps that make the song, the place where you are neither breathing in nor out!

You do not choose to be in No Man’s Land, you do not enter by choice, it is a place you find yourself – alone, maybe scared, a place of the unknown.

In No Man’s Land there are no distances, no benchmarks, no posts to lead you over. There is no light as there is no darkness. There is no noise for the sound of silence. What you feel is what you are!

But who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? When will you get there? And how will you know you have arrived?

In No Man’s Land you do not know whether you are actually alive!


The performance considers society of 100 years ago in the lead up to the First World War. This was a fast moving time, arguably the fastest period of change in human history. Times were improving for many yet within two years devastation was wrought across many lands.

No Man’s Land is a performance that examines how individual decisions are influenced by, and impact on, our near and far environment, often affecting situations way beyond the original intention. By relinquishing a 'normal' live event approach, the outcome of this project will be unknown until after the performance date of 11th November 2012.

The pages that follow lay out how the originator of this project, John McKiernan envisages the event. From August 31st his only input has been as part of a Cabinet Committee. Artist committees will create individual aspects of the event. The committees only liaise through a command controller and have no direct access to, or influence on, the performers on the day or the Cabinet. Only Command has contact with the performers through further layers of Captains and Sergeants.

With so many layers influencing the final event, the risks are real that something awful will be presented as well as potentially spectacular. With such an array of professional artists involved the event will create an implicit tension that will foster a host of reactions, including fear.

Ego, control, frustrations will all surface with shared experience and personal exploration all reasons for artists' involvement.

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