Vivid Projects, and VIVID before that, has always had a rich programme of artists exploring new media including performative work. Vivid Live is another step in this – dedicated strand for artists making live/performance work that I have the pleasure of curating.
There will be touring work and new commissions, artists’ development and an ethos of collaboration that has always been a big part of Vivid Projects. As time goes by I hope to involve the Black Hole Club members and to some extent match make artists to see what they come up with together. Forming connections with other artists is so valuable and this is something I want to encourage, especially when artists have different skill sets such as film makers working with performance artists and so on.
This year Vivid Live launches next month with a Live Lab session on 15 July. There is an open call right now for artists who make live/performance work to give short presentations – up to 9 artists at each session – so I can get to know them better and see if they might work within future programming. There will also be footage from the Vivid Projects archives of past performance work to view so it is open to the general public.
The first artist in the 2017 programme is Jamal Harewood. He is touring his work The Privileged and I’m so exited to bring him to Birmingham! That will be on 2 November for Digbeth First Friday. Jamal is a performance artist who creates temporary communities through participatory events that focus on ideas of identity and race; believing that these events should be a playful experience that allow everyone to get involved. He has a keen interest in abolishing the performer/audience hierarchy that frequently occurs within theatre. The Privileged, I think, is one of the most outstanding pieces of performance to come out of the UK in the past few years, and Jamal is really pushing boundaries with his work by creating these situations to have conversations around race and privilege in a less clinical and more involved situation that cultivates a space for people to be slap bang in the middle of – not detached from – the issues at hand. It is an hour long performance followed by an optional hour long audience-led discussion and there will be tickets available in the months leading up to it.
Then in December we have new commissions by Priya Saujani and Grace A. Williams as a joint show. This will also be for Digbeth First Friday, on 1 December. The work is being made as we speak so I can’t tell you yet exactly what the show will entail. I like working like this as a curator, this is a bit of the artist match making I mentioned earlier. Priya is a performance artist and Grace is a visual artist and researcher. They will both be making performance work for this show but as they have the run of the space I’m looking forward to seeing how they use it and what this triggers for them. Grace is making work inspired by the mythology of the female body submerged including the mermaid and sea siren – the type that lure men to their death, and Priya has a rich body of work subverting power dynamics, often in the guise of the Goddess, an all powerful figure, capable of creation and also destruction.
All the artists I have programmed this year are people whose work I have followed and wanted to bring to Birmingham for a long time, so it’s very exiting to finally be able to do so.
As well as working on Vivid Live, I am also an artist myself and one half of Home For Waifs And Strays, a live art initiative in Birmingham. This year I will be performing a new work, #Challenge, at Sluice_, in London in September (precise date tba). This is a performance by myself and Co-Director (HFWAS) Aleksander Wojtulewicz. We have performed together before but this is going to be much more intense! We are both somewhat endurance artists and will be really pushing our limits with this one! We had wanted to perform this last year but I just wasn’t ready after the birth of my son. I’ve just finished a residency at The Wig as part of GESTALT’s curatorial placement. During this time I really focussed on training and getting my body into a physical state to perform again, so now I’m ready! We hope to tour the piece to some degree after Sluice_. I would like to bring it to Birmingham but it really will be brutal to us as performers so not something we will be able to perform too regularly.