How do you describe your practice to those who are unfamiliar with your work?
My work is very collaborative. When I’m beginning projects, I don’t necessarily have a topic or issue in mind, it’s more about who I want to work with, and what kinds of relationships I want to explore. I usually start with a question, and then the project takes form through a process of exchange with others. My work is also very performance-oriented—I try to introduce performance as an element of ‘play’ when I’m working with people. I see my role as sort of a conductor of social circumstances, and then I translate those experiences into moving image.
What impact has the pioneering moving-image artist Charles Atlas had on your work?
I was first introduced to Charlie’s work through Hail the New Puritan, a fictionalised documentary about the dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. It blew my mind. The film presents a hybrid fictional reality, in which a real situation is documented using a cinematic storytelling structure. It really captures a special moment in the late ‘80s London underground club scene. Charlie once told me about how he was hanging out and partying with Michael and his friends, and how they shot the film in a very short period. It sounded so fluid with his life at the time, which really spoke to me in terms of how I also work.
I’m also deeply inspired by Charlie’s collaboration with Merce Cunningham and the many films that they made together. Their films evolved as they kept going and going, trying out different things. Charlie and Merce were wholly invested in this intense, cumulative experimentation, and they sought to find a unique language for their collaboration. I often think about those films in the context of my own ongoing collaboration with boychild.
Charlie is now a friend. I first met him when Stuart Comer, the Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), moderated a conversation with us for Frieze Talks, in 2014. Ever since then, we’ve stayed in touch. Just getting to spend time with him and hear stories about his life, I feel like I learn so much.