Tamara MacArthur, It’s All Over But the Dreaming, 2020

Tamara MacArthur, It’s All Over But the Dreaming, 2020. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Lizzie Urquhart.

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Tamara MacArthur
It's All Over But The Dreaming, 2020

Performance documentation


Following on from her 2019 Art Late performance at Dovecot Studios, Tamara MacArthur creates a new online performance investigating our desire for closeness and contemporary methods devised to simulate human contact in a time of social distancing. For It’s All Over But the Dreaming, the artist will perform live from an elaborate theatrical set built in her studio, holding close a hand-made life-size doll, to explore themes of loneliness, yearning and futility in relation to the enforced isolation we have experienced since Coronavirus.

The live performance took place on Friday, 31 JulyAfter the live performance, a new video work is available to view on this page from 10 – 30 August.


The scene will show a house on a sandy island in the midst of a vast glittering storm. The island has already started to erode and the house, with its leaking roof, will soon crumble to the sea. Everything’s falling apart.

Sitting in front of the house, I will perform holding onto a life-size doll formed from memories of bodies that once held me. The doll references an anecdotal story in which the painter Oskar Kokoschka commissioned a doll-maker to replicate his lost love Alma Mahler. He wanted it to look and feel so much like her, that he would believe it was her. But even after many alterations, the doll was a clumsy substitute and he was ultimately disappointed.

During the durational performance, audience members will enter a Zoom call and anonymously observe this scene of imagined intimacy for as long as they wish. They’ll also be able to request a one-on-one performance from me: to metaphorically ‘inhabit’ the body of the doll - their face filling the space. I will tell them a story of a better time... a dream/ fantasy/ hope. There will be periods in-between, where the body is left empty and unanimated, in which I’m waiting for the hole to be filled. It serves as a digital parallel to my pre-lockdown performances, in which an audience is present but my attention is devoted to individuals in turn.

Because as everything falls apart around us, as the waves erode our sandy island and the foolish house we built on it, my fanciful story is an act of care and attempt at protection.

The fantasy of an embrace keeps the loneliness at bay. Tamara MacArthur


This series of responses has been made possible thanks to the support of the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

Full selection of artist responses is available here.


Tamara MacArthur (born 1994) lives and works in Glasgow. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2017 with a BA Hons in Painting and Printmaking, Solo exhibitions include If You Believed In Me, Il Colorificio (2018); All Of Me, New Glasgow Society (2017). Group exhibitions/performances have included I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’, Gallery of Modern Art (2020); The Milky Way, Franco Noero Gallery (2020); Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Thessaloniki Biennale), MOMus Experimental (2019); Art Late (Edinburgh Art Festival), Dovecot Studios (2019); Waves, Tate Britain (2019); Flashing and Flashing, MAXXI (2019); We Are The Future, Tate Britain (2018); A Hole In The Sky [with Thank You Very Much], The Modern Institute (2018); Hold On Hold On, Embassy Gallery (2017).


Live Performance: 31 July, 6 – 8pm
Video response: 10 – 30 August