This is the last in our series of blog posts leading up to the December Mostra, our first exhibition of this academic year. The final artist we interviewed was Jennifer Taylor, Creative Wales-BSR Fellow 2017-18, whose performance will take place at the opening of December Mostra at 20.00.
There seems to be a relationship in your practice between photography, sculpture and performance. Could you talk about that?
Throughout most of my practice there has always been the feature of the stage set. Previously, I used to create spaces, construct environments, and photograph the vacant ‘sets’. Recently though, there has been a shift in my practice and the focus has now moved from the curated ‘set’ to inhabiting and performing within the constructed stage.
A lot of your pieces present figures in different geographical locations. Is there a particular reason you chose to spend time in Rome?
Rome has become a very important city to me and has really influenced my practice. I am drawn to the intensity of the city and the architecture; the Baroque churches and the visual impact of frescos filling every surface.
Rome highlights to me the temporality of time. The city, with its vast number of existing remains, gives a very tangible link to the past through their proximity. I am particularly drawn to the apocalyptic timelessness of the ruins.
When planning my initial proposal for the residency, my original idea was to film inside the catacombs of Rome. However, physically being in Rome and talking with fellow residents has ignited a new very different idea.
Do you have any particular projects in mind?
Yes, since coming to the BSR I have been inspired and drawn to the Ancient Roman festival of the Lupercalia (this was an annual Roman festival which placated evil spirits and purified the city, bringing health and fertility).
I shall be performing my own live interpretation/re-enactment of this ancient ritual on the front steps of the BSR. I plan to recreate the lost Lupercal and the associated rituals.
How has being resident at the BSR informed your choice of project?
I initially became fascinated by the Lupercalia festival after the tour of the Forum with Cary Fellow Robert Coates-Stephens. Discussion over teas and dinners with other residents at the BSR, in particular Kresimir Vukovic (Rome Fellow – working on early Roman mythology) has helped my idea develop and evolve.
This project will be a live performance at the mostra and I hope to involve other BSR residents in the performance. I think that having humanities scholars who have studied these ancient festivals participating in the performance will bring a very different energy to the show.
Your project seems to focus on festival, ritual and performance, tell us more…?
Festival and ritual have always fascinated me. Following a residency in Brazil last year, in the period leading up to the Carnival, I have been thinking about the ways that rituals and festivals can overturn society and reverse roles in the city during the festival period.
I am also interested in reconstructing rituals from the distant past that only exist in stories and legends.
What are you most looking forward to about performing in the Mostra?
I am excited about bringing different people together in a unique moment, where it is possible to step outside of normal familiar behaviour. I love the unpredictability of live performance and the new scenarios and relationships that emerge, in response to the audience and the tension of the live moment.
Jennifer’s performance will take place at 20.00 on the opening night of December Mostra. The opening will take place on Friday 15 December 18.30-21.00. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 23 December 2017, closed Sundays.
Interview conducted by Alice Marsh (Communications & Events)