FOR anyone with even the slightest inclination towards artistic tendencies, the world of performance art is a fascinating one to explore. From the frustratingly arcane to generic slapstick, performance pieces and videos have a power to move and challenge their audience in a way that often eludes other art forms. The collective movement, sound and vision of a performance piece can at once encompass the deep-seated poignancy of the spoken word, the aural evocation of music and the visceral intensity of a painting. If a picture speaks a thousand words, surely a video must scream a novel?
London Confidential caught up with two young performance artists who are making a name for themselves on a global scale. Lucy Beech and Edward Thomasson both graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2007 and have since collaborated on several very successful film and performance based projects. They have a bright future ahead of them, one that glitters with the promise of further accolades and achievements. We met the two young talents on the set of their latest project One Another’s Company.
By blurring the concepts of what an audience expects you open up a whole new avenue of possibilities that people can relate to, especially with ideas and experiences from their own lives.
So, after this show you’re jetting off to Venice; is this just a normal day in the life of Lucy Beech and Edward Thomasson?
Lucy: Ha ha, not at all! We decided to get away because we needed a break… (Edward interjects: From each other!), yeah, from each other. No, we’ve been working on so many different projects over the last year, mainly with each other, that we decided to take a little time off and relax for a bit. However, we’ve just heard from another group of artists that they want to work on us with a new project when we get back, so it looks like it will be a short-lived recuperation period.
I guess that’s the price that you pay for being talented: constant exhaustion. So, you two have been working together since you met?
Edward: Well, we both studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design and we ended up doing a lot of projects together, so after we graduated it just felt right that we carry on as a partnership, although we do a lot of other projects on our own.
And how do you find working with a partner, as opposed to on your own?
Lucy: Rather than seeing the limitations, we prefer to bounce ideas off each other and test theories out that you wouldn’t necessarily question of you were working on your own. It’s important to have that other set of eyes and ears when you’re working on a creative project so that you can self-edit a lot more thoroughly.
Do you find that the titles of your pieces help people to work out what they are about, or do you prefer to leave them vague so that the audience can make up their own minds?
Lucy: We like our audience to challenge us by coming up with their own notions about what the pieces are about, which offers more depth to the work itself. However, having a more obvious name means that you immediately know what the piece is about, which opens up a whole new way of looking at something, as soon as you step into the gallery. This can work much better for pieces that are perhaps more direct or humourous, as it removes the need of having to work the piece out and lets the audience instantly appreciate the performance as a whole. For example, 7 Year Itch was quite clearly about being in a relationship and not having sex with your partner anymore.
So, I guess that anyone can relate to that?
Edward: Exactly. If you look at groups like night classes, studying first aid, or Latin dance, everyone feels free to move in a certain way that they would never normally do in front of other people, but because this certain space, be it a college room or a dancehall, has been specified as an official location for this class and therefore these movements, people find it comfortable to do this kind of performance.
So, what is it that you are setting out to achieve with your work?
Lucy: We try to blur the boundaries of what people expect from a performance art piece, like in Twist, where we present people performances in places where they are not expected to be. By blurring the concepts of what an audience expects you open up a whole new avenue of possibilities that people can relate to, especially with ideas and experiences from their own lives. Our performances are often quite short, or consist of a short set of actions that are then repeated, which is a different approach to a lot of other video and performance artists. We feel that a performance piece will have maximum impact if it’s kept succinct and concise, rather than dragging it out.
If you want to see more of Lucy Beech and Edward Thomasson’s work, visit their websites and blog.
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