My work is primarily an exploration of utopia, possibilities beyond the here and now, or other ways of being; not just in terms of history’s grand schemes, but also in unlikely places: small gestures and the everyday. Mapping outward, routes of enquiry have lead to and between many points: communes, terraforming, science-fiction, ufology, wildness/wilderness, the Romantics, walking, failure, gossip, the queer archive, etc. Much of my practice involves attempting an understanding of often complex ideas and relationships, and as a result the work I produce feels thickly layered and opaque. What emerges is not a realisation of a precise concept, but rather a struggle to transmit multiple strands of information, avoiding an authoritarian pedagogical position, while opening it up, perhaps by suggesting new inroads or responses to particular ideas and the threads connecting them.
In I Hear a New World (2014), a large-scale performance-drawing and a text-based piece realised as a mass-produced newspaper, a stream of discursive yet interconnected facts concludes with a map of this information: a spidery, circular diagram. The circle recurs as a 100m-wide drawing on a beach at lowtide, made by walking with, and dragging through the sand, a chunk of rusted iron connected by a string to the centre. The drawing was ephemeral — vanishing under the surf whilst still being made — as was the newspaper: a flimsy, disposable format. Both are indicative of an increasing absence of object from my practice as I look instead to ways the body and movement might better support and give form to my research.
For weird nails (2015), developed and shown at a.m. in London, I brought together a group of people with little or no experience of performance to workshop ways gleanings from such diverse sources as science-fiction, writings on queer utopian yearning, images of terraforming from a Star Trek movie, the potentiality of glo-in-the-dark paint, Warhol’s use of “wow”, cinema vérité, and disco, might be explicated through a collaborative, amateur choreography. The performance adhered to the architecture established by an accompanying film and a script, both comprised of found material, including Yelp reviews of sites of alleged UFO activity, lines from Chronique d’un été, images from Tarkovsky, and passages from Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. The soundscape for the piece was devised in collaboration with a musician, and included snippets of Joe Meek describing his studio, and Patrick Cowley songs.
The performance work, Possibilities for a Pleasant Outing, was commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance and Independent Dance for What Remains… 2016. It draws on the archive of dancer and choreographer Fred Herko (1936-64). Working outwards from the now-lost Warhol film Roller Skate (1963) in which he appeared, I compiled a text from a wide array of found material to be recited while attempting to skate — an act often hindered by inability. This possibility of failure speaks to Herko’s biography, and moreover is proposed as a strategy, working in relation to the unreliability of the ephemera and anecdote-dependant queer archive, for engaging an object across time and against hegemonic historicising.