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Cold, Blood & a TV Lounge

with Poppy Jackson

Poppy Jackson, Site SPILL Festival of Performance, London 2015. Photo by Guido Mencari

Poppy Jackson, Site SPILL Festival of Performance, London 2015. Photo by Guido Mencari

The cold would frequently tune me back to the body and away from my thoughts. Though I experienced the performance as waves of internal, then external stimulus that I came in and out of, as well as feelings of power then vulnerability.

The most arduous work I have undertaken was Television Lounge — SPILL Festival of Performance, 2014. Here, I stood for seven hours, facing the corner of the empty Television Lounge of Ipswich’s derelict police headquarters — where the TV set used to be located — whilst menstruating. From this piece I knew the physical and mental demands on my body would be very tough, yet also empowering and transformative. I had also had unplanned training for the piece from my job as a gallery invigilator, where I have worked for the last seven years to financially support my practice. In this role I stand or sit for shifts of up to twelve hours within Tate’s Galleries. I am a very active person so these times of stillness I find both challenging and valuable.

Poppy Jackson, Television Lounge SPILL Festival of Performance, Ipswich Police Headquarters 2014. Photo by Guido Mencari

Poppy Jackson, Television Lounge SPILL Festival of Performance, Ipswich Police Headquarters 2014. Photo by Guido Mencari

I view my body as an autobiographical archive.

During the eight total hours of Site, I considered my herstory that had lead me here. One of my intentions for this multifaceted work was to “undertake the challenge of presenting an embodied and self-authenticated female sexuality within a context where the ubiquitous sexualisation of this body is coupled with its devaluation. As such, the live female body will be considered activist”. I had worked with groups on young people in my home county of Norfolk on the female body in public space. Up on the roof I felt I had achieved the intention I set out for the work.

Poppy Jackson, Site SPILL Festival of Performance, London 2015. Photo by Guido Mencari

Poppy Jackson, Site SPILL Festival of Performance, London 2015. Photo by Guido Mencari

Before I settled into the work, I had to tackle some initial physical discomfort

that mingled with an emotional unease at acutely feeling the festival and public audience’s stares on my naked body. I began to use the “material” of the cold itself to resolve this, allowing it to bring my full awareness into my body that was dealing with it, through goosebumps and a gradual restriction of blood to my outer limbs. In the last few weeks before Site I had grown all of my body hair so that I could provide some small barrier to the cold myself, and on the mornings of the piece I consumed meals high in carbohydrate to combat the low temperature. I also researched the early warnings signs of the onset of hyperthermia so that I had an idea of my physical limits, as often within the intensity of live performance the will and spirit can overtake these.

Poppy Jackson, Constellation Fuse Art Space, Bradford 2015. Photo by Sarah Faraday / Mountain Scraps, Goauche, 2012 / Constellation Fuse Art Space, Bradford 2015. Photo by Sarah Faraday

Poppy Jackson, Constellation Fuse Art Space, Bradford 2015. Photo by Sarah Faraday / Mountain Scraps, Goauche, 2012 / Constellation Fuse Art Space, Bradford 2015. Photo by Sarah Faraday

I don’t think art should only be housed in galleries and just viewed by arts audiences,

so often make work for public contexts as my work deals with themes that are political and social. Yet of course this makes the process of the live piece even more unpredictable and adds far greater concerns about lack of control of outcome, especially due to the vulnerable place I am positioning myself in. I focus on trusting myself and my environment in this situation, trying to bond myself intensely with the world in the live moment in a way that will be transformative.

Poppy Jackson & Nina Arsenault, Lillex Performance s p a c e, London 2013. Photo by Marco Berardi

Poppy Jackson & Nina Arsenault, Lillex Performance S p a c e, London 2013. Photo by Marco Berardi

I believe performance art is effective as a medium

when a live audience in some way become a part of the performance too, going through the experience of the work with the performer together. Here, they could feel the low temperature even with their coats on, and so had physical connection with what I was going through. To have genuine communal and live experience on such a deep level is refreshing in our age of increasingly internet-based communication. Furthermore it provides clear moments of freedom from our heavily surveyed online activity and the prescribed behavioural rules of urban space.

Site & Symbol
Poppy Jackson & Maz Jackson, The House, London
22 / 25 June 2016

Site
Poppy Jackson, SPILL Festival of Performance, London 2015
Photo by Shona Hamilton and Guido Mencari

Television Lounge
Poppy Jackson, SPILL Festival of Performance, Ipswich 2014
Photo by Guido Mencari

Constellation
Poppy Jackson, Fuse Art Space, Bradford 2015
Photo by Sarah Faraday

Lillex
Poppy Jackson & Nina Arsenault, Performance S p a c e, London 2013
Photo by Marco Berardi

Poppy

Site
Inner Parameters (Corner Piece)
poppyjackson.co.uk

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