Fem Fresh

 

 

 

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Image by Martyna Lisiewicz

Recently artist Priya Saujani and I were selected to perform at Fem Fresh – Feminism, Age and Live Art run by Live Art Development Agency (LADA) at Queen Marys University.

This was a fantastic event and we also received mentoring from the wonderful artist Anne Bean.

The day included performances, talks and a feedback meal, and we were both incredibly excited to be part of it.

Priya and i have exchanged, supported each other and collaborated distantly for a while but this was our first physical performance together! It was incredibly intense. The performance is a ritual that includes one to one’s and spectacle simultaneously.

We are continuing work on this piece and this was a very strong beginning, and we shall be performing it again, in its evolved state, later this year.

We were honoured to be included in the line up of such fantastic artists who also performed and gave presentations on the day. This was a truly rewarding experience that explored and discussed current issues in Feminism, Age and Live Art in an incredibly supportive environment.

 

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Me and Priya

Fem Fresh

Priya Saujani

 

 

 

 

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Fierce FWD

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Image by Nick Hynan

I was recently awarded a bursary from Fierce Festival as part of their Fierce FWD artist development program.

This money and support has enabled me to further develop my work surrounding the pole.

Throughout this time i was able to hire space at Vivid Projects to trial my work in progress in front of an invited audience in order to test the technical aspects and to receive invaluable feedback and documentation.

This work is more physical and stripped back than anything i have done before and it is still very much in the development stages but i have, as a result of this trial performance, joined up with a sound artist to collaborate with and i now have a much stronger idea of some of the technical issues i need to address.

Through talking to the Fierce Directors i have also ventured down new routes of research to inform this work, some of which has included working at a pole dancing club, to achieve a better understanding of what is driving my desire to make this work, and also what is not.

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Image by Nick Hynan

Fierce FWD

Vivid Projects

Nick Hynan

 

 

 

Distant Collaboration, Close Connection

 

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Photo by Ray Spence

I met Priya Saujani at Spots in London, 2012. We were both performing intimate one to ones. She came and danced with me in ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’. We finished and she looked at me and i knew. She got it! She understood on a deep level exactly what i wasn’t trying to give away. The secret part to the performance. The bit only i knew.

Ever since we have kept in touch, supported each other from a distance. We live no where near each other and yet we intuitively connect. I began work with the pole, unbeknownst that so had she! She talks my language.

We each make our own work but the currents flow side by side.

Recently we began a distant collaboration and the image above is the first performative manifestation of this.

Priya reworked her sound piece ‘Love Tunnel’ to be in the Home For Waifs And Strays February show ‘Four Letter Word’. This immediately reminded me of a film installation i had made at a particularly tough time called ‘Ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?’ which i showed at TROVE in 2011.

I reworked this film piece and added Priyas voice. The old sound still remained but slowed down to a growl.

It felt right to display the work through a performance, i thought of her when i made it, her physical absence not inmportant, i acted as a vessel, representing both of us.

Here is the video/sound piece.

 

 

 

 

 

Smoke on the water

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I recently had the opportunity to show some work in development at The Shag. The performance took place in the CASS space opposite Whitechapel Gallery. I was placed in the window of this exhibition space which gave a dual perspective as audience became passers by on the street as well as people attending The Shag. For the duration of the event, to no music, I danced, played smoke on the water on a one string guitar, read, texted, wrote notes and chatted to people. All on the pole. Multi tasking if you will.

 

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It was incredibly interesting to see how people responded in the setting of a white cube gallery. Before I began I watched one art viewer look at the pole alone as if it was a sculpture, hand on chin, thinking face in full flow, hilarious!

Once i actually began, many people would look at the items around the pole but did not want to look at me. Speaking to (very female) group of Shag attendees afterwards, the feedback was that they wanted to watch but felt like they shouldn’t. The connotations of a woman on a pole being that she must be somehow objectified in a manner that degrades her more than other live art and performance? Despite the other activities (book reading etc) performed on the pole, it was still uncomfortable for some. Perhaps they felt it wasn’t ‘high’ art. I would flit between balletic dance and classic pole moves. People would start watching when i was dancing balletically. They would stop when i started doing the spins, inverts and headstands.

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I want to reclaim my sexuality as a woman. It is not something that should cause averted gazes. I felt the sense of shaming that came with that.

Around the corner another performer, a man, performed a semi drag piece about the way women are treated in the media, and by men, in a way that is damaging. It was easier for people to watch him. I felt slightly deflated that people found it easier to engage with a man talking about what I feel affects my daily life than it was for them to look me, a woman, in the eyes as I addressed the same thing. However i do not blame men or women specifically. Lets do away with blame. I am only interested in continuing to put myself, a woman, performing ‘woman’, a thinker, a feeler, who should be able to embrace and enjoy my whole self, sexual and intellectual, nobodies fool, without shame, assumption, degradation or stigmatisation.

My body is not the perfect image of beauty, i am not in my early twenties. I do not have a partner. I feel both ‘male’ and ‘female’, i struggle to relate to popular images of femininity and yet i use them in my work. Interestingly in past performances such as ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ which is highly seductive, the audiences response was far warmer. She was softer, more vulnerable. Or so it seemed.

In this piece and in Her Lady’s Pleasure, there has been a notable audience divide. I must admit that it is primarily women who ‘get’ these pieces, and who want to discuss them with me. However Her Lady’s Pleasure was a collaborative piece with temp0rary, two men, who were completely on the same page as me and who i could not have felt more comfortable and confidant with.

I do not have the answers yet, just more questions, but i’m on to something! The more people want to look away the more i want to continue. It’s the grit in my oyster.

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This one’s for you

Last year i was commissioned to make a new work by Companis for Rude Food Fiesta. The outcome of this was two new collaborations, This One’s For You, an intimate one to one that was performed for 8 lucky golden ticket winners (cameras were not allowed in this performance so there is no footage available) and a very special improvised collaboration with sound artist Sam Underwood that was for a larger audience.

This One’s For You was a performance with Charity Shop DJ who selected a number of vinyls for each ticket winner to choose from, and presented it to them on a menu. Music to choose from included ‘Rabbit Rabbit’ by Chas and Dave, sections from Puccinis ‘Tosca’, ‘Mister Entertainment’ by Bruce Forsythe, and more. Each ticket winner had also pre selected a meal from their choice of food stall at the event which was brought to them to eat during the performance. I then performed a pole dance for them, not your typical pole dance may I add. The lady who chose Tosca was moved to tears. Rabbit Rabbit induced whoops, clapping and laughs. Every performance different and especially for them.

The performance with Sam Underwood was a revelation!!! I have often done one to ones with audience members. This was different in that it was a one to one with the artists I was collaborating with. Sam had built a dual pipe and mouthpiece system that attached to his tuba so we could both play it at the same time. I ‘sang’ into my mouthpiece which Sam would hand to me when i gestured for it and he ‘subbed’. During the performance i was also on the pole so as we continued the sound became progressively altered by my physical state from the effort of dancing on the pole.

I cannot yet express in words how electric, almost meditative, that this experience was for both me and Sam and also for the audience. This work will be developed as we both loved it so much.

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Photo by Katja Ogrin
Photo by Katja Ogrin

Kate Spence MrUnderwood Jamming

 

Kate Spence Upside DownImages by Katja Ogrin

Sweet Talk

Lets suck on lollipops and talk sweetly to each other. Interconnected lollipops. So we’re right up close. So i can feel the vibrations when i ask you to sing to me. Tingling in my mouth. Don’t worry about the saliva, the sweet is so large and mouthwatering, it’s impossible to stay dry.

Photo by Nick Hynan
Photo by Nick Hynan

Sweet Talk was performed outside VIVID at Warwick Bar Fete for Companis. It was one to one interactive. Up close and personal. Mouths full of sugar. Like a childrens animated film the innuendo is there, the in joke to keep the adults amused. It was, however, a family friendly event, the children who interacted (often whilst sat on their parents knee) found it hilarious, not only did they get a free sweet but the silly mumblings and difficulty of talking with a large lollipop in ones mouth became a challenge (and they were far less embarrased about dribbling every where in the process).

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http://www.companis.co.uk/

http://www.vividprojects.org.uk/

http://nickhynan.wix.com/photography

 

Her Lady’s Pleasure

Photo by Timothy James Pratt
Photo by Timothy James Pratt

Her Lady’s Pleasure was performed at The Wig, Birmingham in August 2013. This was a highly ambitious collaboration between myself and temp0rary that pushed all involved to make something that broke all our boundaries of previous work as we walked heroically into a territory none of us had walked before!

My concept was to make a live performance that created music and imagery from an orgasm! The idea was not to have the effect of a extravagant sex show but to make something so beautiful and grand scale that the physical would be transcended into something almost spiritual. It was important to me that the audience would be in control of my orgasm, and that they in turn would be part of the pleasure. This piece was a celebration of sensual pleasure, a reaction against shame and guilt, body fascism, and taboos.

The amazing temp0rary were brave enough to take me up on this idea and enabled this concept to manifest in an immersive experience where the audience were able to give me pleasure by themselves enjoying tea and cake. My experience of the pleasure was translated back through the music via a device that measured my brain activity.

The aesthetics were based on Fragonard’s rococo painting ‘The Swing’.

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                                                           Image by Timothy James Pratt

I find this piece difficult to articulate. My desire to make it came from a place of wanting to feel that pleasure of all kinds should be an entitlement of life for all, that there should not be any greater excuse for it other than ‘just because it’s nice’. Pleasure can be something we deny ourselves because we do not feel worthy, because we are told it is ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’. We think our bodies are somehow inherently ‘dirty’ for being weak with our desires. This piece was a two fingers up to that attitude. I believe that it can actually take a certain strength of character and mind to actually allow oneself to feel physical pleasure fully and without guilt.  I do believe we succeeded in making a whole audience make me orgasm (twice) in a performance that was not for one second anything less than completely and utterly beautiful in every way. After the show one friend said to me ‘i never thought i’d see it but if anyone could pull off a dignified orgasm on a swing it would be you Kate’.

There is a microsite dedicated to this performance http://cunabula.io/hlp/index.html

Links to videos of the night;

By Timothy James Pratt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSUUsLyBiVs

By Peter Jones http://vimeo.com/75390691

To find out more about this piece go to the Links page of my site.