CHRIS PAUL: The Bosch Collective

Unless you have spent a bit of time in the furrowed husks and underground niches of the alternative Wales artsworld, then the chances are you probably have not heard much about Bosch (actually not the Power Tool enthusiasts, at all).  This is a happy incident of geography, because the arts’ economy, culturally as well as financially, is kinda like legal and other political powers, located mostly in London, with a few shining satellites elsewhere in England.  There is no specific racial or nationalistic agenda behind this, nor any supply side issue that means Wales is short of what gets commoditised as talent.  It is just more people live in London, and more rich people live in London in particular, and while no-one opposes the idea of conceptual art in the overspills, suburbs, and backwaters, it is generally presumed, if not perceived, that good art happens ‘elsewhere (often London, eg). Whatever the hell good art is these days, that is.

So, Lebowski like, Bosch, reside, in Newport. And have never played a gig outside of Wales. In some hopefully not exaggerated and inaccurate respects this is like Joseph Beuys never leaving Krefeld.

Bosch initially started as something a bit like a music project, except, to quote Steven George Jones, one of the principal founders, “it was more indebted to performance.” Informed loosely, and maybe somewhat anarchically, from a critically sought jangle of conceptual art practices, say Dada, fluxist, prank art, Situationism, for bite size examples, Bosch occupy performance spaces, and make quasi harmonic eye piercing splinter pieces of aural agitprop. They don’t do singles, or requests, or covers, or repeat hits.  They do thinly wedged improvisation pieces.  “as few as three as many as sixteen” some of them unwitting flash mob credits from the audience, take cover, and inhabit a performance space.  The results can vary wildly, from blissed up polyphonal late night experiments, to “almost fights.” As Bosch turn up and gig at a Working Men’s Club, during a wake.

Bosch have diverted often from their “first love” of music.  Or “not music”.  They have created cut and spliced long form documentaries, as well as more vignette style hypno-arthouse efforts.  Commercial Street (see Youtube link below) has flavours of Chris Morris meets Ken Loach, in William Gibson’s post gothic future.

This is to make false statements, as Bosch are a divergent and diverse collective evolving for over a decade.  It is easy to bring ideological baggage to art, of one sort or another.  As a Newport grouping, Bosch head not to the mentally reinforced securities of the ICA, worthy of the merit of its programme. They perform in unsuspecting pubs, empty churches, and part abandoned rented commercial space. Within spitting distance, violence and insecurity become performance gestures, play unfurls as the audient and performer stand off, then merge, then stand off.  It is great that conceptually and unashamedly performance driven work can surface and thrive in a more disseminated psycho-geographical theatre.  Kinda.  Not that.

As live performance based work, documentation will always be a different animal. Hopefully this will give a faint gist and flavour:


Chris (sometimes Cris) Paul is a writer and collaborative artist currently based in Newport.  He co-launched the Bosch Harvest Festival. He has had journalism and creative works published in the Guardian, Poetry Wales, Wales Arts Review, among others.  He was once poet in residence for BBC Wales Adam Walton show.  His book Stenia Cultas Handbook is available from Veer Books.





  • Smash It Up

    […] a full-length theatre show made and performed in a collaboration between Mr & Mrs Clark  and Bosch. It is one of the outcomes developed from a performance-as-research project that investigates […]


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