Stop Making Sense: Part 1 – Portals to understanding
This two part online series, curated by Camden Art Centre’s Freelands Lomax Ceramics Fellow, Phoebe Collings-James, looks to unravel what it means to facilitate and hold spaces for knowledge sharing. Mudbelly Teaches was conceived by Collings-James as an intersectional Black queer feminist space that seeks an intimate, reciprocal approach to learning. It is home to ceramics courses for Black people in London, taught by Black ceramicists & artists.
In Part 1, Collings-James invites artist, poet and dancer Serafine1369 and poet, artist, and tarot practitioner Daniella Valz Gen to consider how their practices of tarot, divination and performance can embody queer thinking around teaching in spaces outside and on the fridges of institutional structures. Rooted in spirituality, the artists consider how through these shared practices and spaces one can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and find relief from alienation.
The Freelands Lomax Ceramics Fellowship supports emerging artists working with clay. Between 2017-21, the Fellowship offers artists part-time six-month residencies at Camden Art Centre with an exhibition in the following year.
Supported by Freelands Foundation.
Phoebe Collings-James is a London-based artist who works across sculpture, video, sound and performance. Her works function as what she calls “emotional detritus”; they speak of knowledges of feelings, the debris of violence, language and desire which are inherent to living and surviving within hostile environments. Her recent work has been dealing with the object as subject, giving life and tension to ceramic forms. Through her project Mudbelly Ceramics, Collings-James explores her practice and research in ceramics using both wheel-thrown and hand-built techniques. During her residency, she will continue her study of ceramic form through an engagement with tenderness, eroticism and the haptic nature of clay.
Daniella Valz Gen is a poet, artist and card reader, born in Peru and based in London. Their work explores the interstices between languages, cultures and value systems with an emphasis on embodiment and ritual, through performance, installation, conversation and text.
Valz Gen is the author of the poetry collection Subversive Economies (PSS 2018). Their prose has been published in various art and literary journals such as Lish, SALT. Magazine, Paperwork Magazine and The Happy Hypocrite amongst others. They’re currently developing the next stage of their project (be)longing creating a series of immersive elemental rituals. Valz Gen runs monthly gatherings exploring the symbolism in Tarot cards in relation to a poetic practice within the container of Sacred Song Tarot.
Kelman Duran is a Dominican musician, and visual artist. Duran started taking music seriously when he moved to Los Angeles. Born and raised in New York City, Duran graduated from LaGuardia and moved to South Korea before studying at CalArts.
As a DJ and producer, he is mostly affiliated with LA’s Rail Up crew, HUNDEBISS Records in Milan, and Riobamba’s Apocalipsis label, who also recently put out his album, 13th Month. The creation of the record was inspired by indigenous moon cycles that Duran learned about while living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where he shot a documentary titled To the North.
While he sees his music as a purely emotional counterpart to his visual arts and film work, his artistic and scholarly interests focus on issues of racism, police brutality, and the interplay between disenfranchised groups and civil architecture.
SERAFINE1369 was previously working under the name Last Yearz Interesting Negro (2016-2020) and is the artist and dancer (++) Jamila Johnson-Small.
SERAFINE1369 works with dancing as a philosophical undertaking, a political project with ethical psycho-spiritual ramifications for being-in-the-world; dancing as intimate technology.
Their work is informed by research into movement and dance as a tool for divination, decoding messages from an oracular body – on personal/structural/symptomatic/somatic/psychic levels – to be processed through the medium of choreography. Always thinking about the metabolic – impact and exchange through/in/as movement. Their shows are stage/dreamspace/battleground, decompositions, atmospheric landscapes created through the live unfolding of the tensions between things that produce meaning.SERAFINE1369 has a relational, cumulative and often collaborative practice, gathering and transmitting information through working in various constellations, at different scales and in different roles to build spaces for communing/attuning/communicating through dancing, performance, listening and conversation; spaces that might hold the complex, multiple and contradictory, spaces that consider movement and transformation as inevitable, working to be unsettling situations of non-dominance.
They have presented work at ICA (London, 2018), Silencio (Paris, 2019), Transmediale (Berlin, 2019), Barbican (London, 2019), MDT (Stockholm, 2020), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2018), CA2M (Madrid, 2020), Café Oto (London, 2019), Sophiensaele (Berlin, 2017 & 2019), Mousonturm (Frankfurt, 2018), Fierce (Birmingham, 2017), Performatik (Brussels, 2018), La Chappelle (Montreal, 2020), Rhubarb festival (Toronto, 2020), Nuit Blanche (Paris, 2018), Baltic Circle (Helsinki, 2017), The Garden Museum (London, 2018), Tramway (Glasgow, 2018), BOZAR (Brussels, 2018) amongst others. Usually based in London they were Torchlight Artist at Siobhan Davies Studios from 2019 – 2021, won the Arts Foundation Futures Award for Visual Art in 2019 and are due to be in residence at Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin for 2021 (if and when they can get there!).
Long term creative team includes Jackie Shemesh (Light Design), Josh Anio Grigg (Sound Design) and Katarzyna Perlak (Photography). Regular collaborators include AGF HYDRA, Phoebe Collings-James, Fernanda Muñoz-Newsome and Shelley Parker
Sandra Jean Pierre is a freelance audio producer/researcher. She has worked with Somerset House Studios, Tate Modern, not/nowhere, Reduced Listening, Shanaynay Art Space and NTS Radio. She is also the co-curator and founder of Marasa, an online project exploring the possibilities given by sound and radio to contribute to renewed systems of listening, visibility and creation of knowledge. Marasa was featured in the ICA Daily Newsletter
Main image: Sounds 4 Survival performance at Cafe Oto by Phoebe Collings-James & SERAFINE1369. (2019), photography by Dimitri Djuric