Notions of aspiration, futility and socio-political impotence underpin much of my work. I create sculptural objects for use in video works and performances. Recent performances are formatted as participatory games, in which punitive and rigged rules play with the illusion of players’ agency, exposing their powerlessness to affect pre-determined outcomes. Various mechanics such as audience votes draw on populism and soft power dynamics in relation to individual, institutional and societal hierarchies. Particularly the role of premature value judgements and biases in establishing and maintaining social power structures. For example, in ‘Ip Dip’, and ‘Something for Nothing’, audiences pick whose team to support for the chance to win a prize. Their judgements on contestants’ competence before the game begins facilitates a sense of factionalism, and spectators are incentivised to want their baseless judgements to be vindicated. These games also expose a sense of oppositional camaraderie, hinting that the feeling of inclusion, of being supported by the collective, often establishes an exclusionary dynamic. To want your team to win is to want another team to lose. To be part of an ‘in’ crowd, others must be relegated to an ‘out’ crowd.
Bodily imagery is a reoccurring element of my practice. The body often forms the language to talk about the self, feelings of constraint or control. Moreover, the body is often how internalised senses of exclusion manifest, either through physical discomfort in hostile environments, or in the desire to lose weight, to get braces, to build muscle, or in other ways alter the body to improve social standing.
I try to present a sense of ambiguous narrative, to suggest a ‘meaning’, or an ‘explanation’, while withholding enough information to encourage oscillative readings. In works like ‘Timepass’ and ‘Misery Loves Company’ this operates through short film loops, establishing a ‘static momentum' in which progression and resolution are denied despite their implied existence. I aim to frustrate the audience with the anticipation of an event that never occurs. The videos have similar durations to gifs, vines or tik tok clips. To me, they relate to the body’s relationship with digital spaces and in turn digital spaces’ relationships to physical ones.
In the ongoing piece ‘Just browsing’ I am returning to these themes in response to how drastically lockdown has shifted our relationships to online spaces and how the body is mediated by a screen. Digital spectatorship and online dating growingly facilitate a marketplace of bodies. To scroll through Grindr is to have potential romantic or sexual partners codified through a grid. Squares of torsos cut soft edges of the body into boxes to pick and choose from. Similarly to ideas I engage with in ‘Ip Dip’, online dating encourages unhealthy self-regulation of the body. To be muscular, to be completely hairless, to be ‘masc’ enough or ‘femme’ enough are all pressures to compete, to present, to perform, to constantly monitor your body in relation to its digital manifestation. In these spaces, your body becomes your brand.