Jojo Taylor: Avoiding Stuckness (with Emergency Chocolate)
The following recipe is designed for recent graduates or those seeking a new way of working. Give the strict routine of numerous deadlines the chop and toss more exploration, experimentation and play into the mix. These, after all are important ingredients for the instinctive artist-in order to keep generating ideas and move them on. Be prepared to peel back your eyelids and see your practice in a new light. It may be a recipe for success or for disaster. It is a risk. There is only one way to find out.
4 artists in residence on The Lifeboat Residency
8 fellow peer mentor artists
1 dollop of ACAVA
2 cups of Artquest
1 huge studio
1 pair of ill fitting roller skates
1 bar of emergency chocolate
Several pairs of gloves (with nails attached to the outside)
1 mentor per resident artist
20 fake eyelashes
1 video camera
30 bars of emergency emergency chocolate
A pile of treasure
A dose of Sods Law
1 clothes rack of weird shit
A handful of friends
1). Take the four artists whom have not all worked together before and place them into a wonderfully huge ACAVA studio space and see what happens…
2). Meanwhile, notice that one artist thinks she is in New York-(go figure). One is practicing voice overs whilst bent over in a very peculiar position on all fours on the floor, one watches strange movies in the dark and the other is rolling around face up on the floor as her attempts at roller skating have gone tits up…quite literally.
3). Set the temperature to -4 degrees. Make sure it unseasonably snows to create the extra coldness needed to ensure that the historic visions of struggling artists are met. This is a great time for emergency chocolate.
4). Slowly thaw the artists and check for Sods Law as at this early stage it can often be found lurking around door locks and you may not be able to get in for love nor money.
5). Gently mix all the artists together with 8 other peer mentor artists to ensure that each artist has the opportunity to chat and get to know each other in order to create a positive working environment.
6). Set aside a minute or two to ponder on how best to approach the use of the space, in order to try and make use of its full potential whilst simultaneously trying to reach yours.
7). Sprinkle a small amount of pizazz into the equation: Set yourself a rule; to make a new piece /work on a new idea every visit to the studio.
8). Continue mixing rapidly for 4 months, you’ll realise this is a really demanding rule, possibly stupid. This is a good time for emergency emergency chocolate.
9). Whip yourself into a frenzy, all things that you are now creating are mainly a result of this new rule and having to quickly observe the world around you-ready to interpret its performative nature:
On a night out – notice the doppelgänger of your mother. During your next studio visit sift through the wigs and create two identical outfits, take an unexpecting friend and place them in the costume alongside yourself and mirror each other. On play back you realise that you look more like a bad version of French and Saunders than a performance art duo. At this point it is possible to feel luke warm towards some of your explorations. The end results may grate on you and no amount of garnish in the film editing process will enhance its appearance. Put this down to experience. Or if you must – flambe’ yourself by dousing yourself in alcohol and setting yourself alight. (Not recommended, but if you do it – video it). Or better still – book a meeting with your trusted mentor!
10). Next, tip any ideas of stopping this new rule out of the window, you are now totally obsessed with not breaking said rule. Everything you are making is a result of your dedication to this rule. IT MUST BE OBEYED.
11). Parboil your brain by spending the days in between visits frantically getting inspiration via galleries, researching, online and in the library…Keep looking for props and make costumes so you are always ready for your next studio visit…as you must not break your rule! (Hang on a minute, I thought we were giving strict routine and deadlines the chop). Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
12). Stew for a while whilst dressed in weird shit, utilising the treasures around you, doing strange things, wondering what the hell you are doing-whilst videoing it. I highly recommend trussing yourself in a variety of outfits and use your body to move through the space wearing ridiculously high luminous pink heels.
13). Whilst your own red raw heels are recovering from the Luminous Pink Heel performance (and the Skate performance prior to that), lightly cover a friend in paint during their visit to the studio and ‘just happen’ to have some costumes ready for her and a performance piece that needs working out.
14). Stir your mind and take time to look at all of these ideas and work you have made. There will be enough here to work on long after the residency as there is not enough hours in the day to edit it all.
15). Consume emergency emergency chocolate.
16). Repeat steps 10-15
17). Serve yourself the remaining emergency emergency chocolate whilst sat on one of the chairs in a wig, gloves and lashes, still wearing the weird shit from said clothes rail, ask yourself this… Would I have made any of this current work if I had not been given this Lifeboat residency opportunity by Artsquest and approached my practice in this new way, with THE new rule?
I don’t believe I would have. I am asking myself more questions than I am answering, I am questioning if this is a really bad idea, I am wondering if I will make totally naff snippets of work that I don’t like, and sometimes in the natural peaks and troughs of confidence, I think I am on my way to making a wonderful piece of work. What ever happens (I haven’t finished cooking yet), it is a very interesting experiment, made all the more pleasurable sharing the studio with such considerate, talented and engaged artists.
Jojo Taylor is one of the recipients of the 2018 Lifeboat Residency. Lifeboat is a year-long studio residency, peer mentoring and career development award for MA postgraduates from University of the Arts London. The artists selected for the 2018 award are Sabrina Fuller, Davide Meneghello, and Mētra Saberova. The residency is funded by ArtsTemps and supported by ACAVA.