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Mel O’Callaghan Dangerous on-the-way

Mel O’Callaghan –  whose work could be discovered during the Nuit Blanche 2016 (under the artistic direction of Palais de Tokyo) and at Palais de Tokyo during the festival DO DISTURB 2, in April 2016, is here continuing her reflections about ritual as a form of expression of the human condition, and the processes of self-transformation which emerge from the tireless repetition of the same actions.

For her solo show at Palais de Tokyo, Mel O’Callaghan went to North East Borneo so as to attend the traditional harvesting of birds’ nests, a particularly dangerous ritual, performed twice a year by the Orang Sungai people, at a height of over 120 meters – going up to the summit of Simud Putih, or the “white cave” of Gomantong. Combining sculpture, performance and video, Dangerous on-the-way focuses more specifically on the ekstasis this ritual induces, that physical and mental state described in Greek philosophy as being “outside oneself”.


Curator: Daria de Beauvais

Winner of the SAM Prize for Contemporary Art 2015

A monographic book published by SAM Art projects accompanies this show.

As part of the exhibition:

Performance To Hear With My Eyes
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Duration: 45 min.

Every day, performers are handling various objects symbolising the stages needed to access an “ecstatic trance”, according to the method developed during the 1970s by the Anthropologist and Linguist Dr. Felicitas D. Goodman, the founder of the Cuyamungue Institute.

Free access, on presentation of an exhibition entry ticket.



From 03/02/2017 to 08/05/2017

Open every day except Tuesdays, from noon until midnight.

Performance as part of the exhibition on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m. / Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Duration: 45 min.

Talk on Friday February 10
8 p.m.

Free access, on presentation of an exhibition entry ticket.

“Observation was key. I was conscious of travelling there with no preconceived notions of their people and practices and of what I might achieve. I had no interest in approaching this with an ethnocentric focus. I was not there to tell their story. I was simply fascinated to witness a ritual as a form of artistic practice that appeared in some ways to mirror my own.”

Mel O’Callaghan

Mel O’Callaghan

Born in 1975 in Sydney (Australia), Mel O'Callaghan lives in Paris. In 2017, the artist is also holding a solo show at the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia). She recently held a solo show at the Museum Medeiros e Almeida (Lisbon, Portugal, 2015). She participated in the group shows “Demain dans la bataille pense à moi”, at the Institut d'art contemporain (Villeurbanne, France, 2015) and “Nature/Revelation” at the Ian Potter Museum (Melbourne, Australia, 2015), as well as the Hors-Pistes festival at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France, 2016). Mel O'Callaghan teaches at The New School Parsons Paris. She is represented by Galerie Allen, Paris, Galeria Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon and Kronenberg Wright, Sydney.

This exhibition benefits from the support of:


It also benefits from the support of Cuyamungue Institute and The New School Parsons Paris.