Placement this week took me to the Macrobert again, this time for Luminate a festival of events of which Buzzcut were producing three pieces of work. The range of events all happening under one roof was really inspiring, from discussions, to live art to large-scale dance productions. The three pieces of work, by artists from different areas of the UK, were all linked by the fact that they all looked at aspects of old age by exploring their relationship to their Grandmothers.
Will Dickie’s Memories of Suburbia, with his constricting and twisting movements around the objects on stage belonging to his Grandma, conjured up images of rows of houses in London’s suburbs and the feeling of claustrophobia. You were brought right in to the conversations with his Grandma, and her words bringing a harsh reality on old age; it’s no life.
Similarly, but with a brighter, playful mood, Laura Bradshaw’s 29:92 Phyllis explores her ancestry and the difference in the way she’s living at 29 compared to her Grandma.
Bristol-based artist Jo Hellier gave an insight in to living with dementia, and a touching visual expression of memory; you can’t hold on to it all the time. Sometimes you have to let some things go, to let others become present.
These pieces and the way in which they were made differ greatly from the kind of work I have been assisting on/ seeing reactions to with Rosana. They are less overtly political or in relation to a wider discourse, and although experiential sit with theatre at their core. I think it’s really important that artists engage in work that they wouldn’t make themselves. The gap between work which is autobiographical and has a feeling of tenderness, and work that is political and shocks perhaps even traumatises its audience is something I’m fascinated with. How can I make work that is political, and tests preconceptions, but is still embodied? That engages with my full self, that doesn’t purely come from cerebral thinking?
Part of making space for other artists is allowing yourself (as producer) to be exposed to work and discussions you may not usually be a part of.
Between artists and artist-producers there seems to be an inherent respect for each other. The producing artist knows what it is to try to make work, so knows first hand how they like to be treated by organisers and producers. Artists have respect for those artists who not only make their own work, but make it their priority to provide opportunities and new contexts for the work of others. I am constantly enlivened by the way Nick and Rosana consider the experience of the artists that they produce, going above and beyond the formal role of producer. Opening their home to visiting artists, for meals and accommodation, makes for a welcoming and hopefully enriching time in Glasgow.
I think the role of the producing-artist in the current climate of the art-world is bringing back the intimacy and grounded feeling that bigger arts organisations and elitist institutions often lack. In a time where the arts are constantly being cut, it gives me hope to feel like there are artists who just want to make the process of showing work a bit more human.