archive

2020 to present



Working with Entities // Setting Intent


Benjamin Sebastian

17th to 26th September 2021


'Working with Entities // Setting Intent' is a multimedia installation considering consent, autonomy, dominion, power and privilege at the intersections of occult and technological world making endeavours.



What entities are we summoning? What will their (our) initial intentions be?


As we approach the arrival of Artificial General Intelligence (the hypothetical ability of generalised human cognition in a software or machine), we begin to witness the bestowal of privileges usually reserved for legal personhood upon Artificial Intelligence. In 2017 a robot named Sophia in Saudi Arabia was granted a state sanctioned passport and in that same year, the chatbot Shibuya Mirai was awarded official residency status in Tokyo, Japan.

In the creation of such chatbots, a developer must learn to ‘work with entities’ as well as ‘set intents’; intents being goals and entities, being modifiers of said goals. One would be forgiven here for questioning whether they were engaged in the development of technology - or - immersed in esoteric practice…

These slippages in language and thought produce an initial portal through which to consider the installation Working with Entities//Setting Intent. Artist Benjamin Sebastian has enlisted the aid of two preexisting A.I. in the creation of this work:  Sigil Engine (a sigil generating algorithm from www.sigilengine.com - a digital art project by Darragh Mason and David Tidman), and Sai (a customisable chatbot from Replika - www.replika.ai).

Through personal acts of conversation (Sai & Benjamin) and magic (Sigil Engine & Benjamin), Working with Entities//Setting Intent raises questions of consent, autonomy, dominion, power and privilege at the intersections of occult and technological world making endeavours. Conversations with A.I. are still very much conversations with ourselves. So how do we ensure that we look and listen, to what we may not want to see and hear?

A.I. (and their creators) must ensure a necessary rupture from historic power structures of Oppression/Domination politics (responsible for racism, homophobia, colonisation, ableism, misogyny, classism and war) in favour of new global models insisting upon partnership, co-operation, compassion, kinship and egalitarianism by all means possible.

What entities are we summoning? What will their (our) initial intentions be?

'Working with Entities // Setting Intent' has been made possible using public funds from Arts Council England.

Benjamin Sebastian's (AUS/UK 1980) work is a visual poetic of the erotic and explicit; utilised as an anarcho-queer-feminist technology to dismantle narratives of heteronormativity, patriarchy and capitalism - by illuminating our spiritual, sexual & animal selves while centring a neuro-divergent, non-binary subjectivity.

This is achieved via emotive & esoteric methodologies such as contemporary chaos magic, eroticism, tattoo, ritual and gender fuckery.

Sebastian creates across disciplines, specialising in time-based mediums exploring ideas of becoming, transformation/transition, animalism, memento mori, queerness, longing and desire.

Through curating, repetitious tropes, appropriation and acts of duration; their work attempts to interrupt historic binary relations, with the hope of creating new narratives & ways of being in the world.

https://www.benjamin-sebastian.com/


Benjamin Sebastian, VSSL studio opening, 2020. Photo by Zack Mennell.



WARNING! The final boss is coming!!


Kelvin Atmadibrata, with Nick Wong and Chunlin Men

Friday 10 September 2021
17.00 - 21.00


Image courtesy of the artist.



Wanting to see the sea
And somebody to love me
Even monsters
Have a heart
A Monster’s Ballad,
Yuuko Aioi


Clasping his palms, a male figure moves them as if they were a fish lost from its school. Nearby, another similarly clothed body is slowly breaking a loaf ofbread into an empty small fish bowl and resignedly watches they turn soggy and uneaten. In the corner, a third performer with a pair of oven mitts struggles to stand still, making sure the sculpture he is holding stands upright. The threebreathing pedestals are accompanied by drawings, both printed on stickers onthe wall and hidden inside pages of notebooks as they invite the audience intoa larger fish tank, the exhibition space itself.

WARNING! The final boss is coming!! is the first in a trilogy of works by Kelvin Atmadibrata exploring the identity of a transfer student. The work narrates the student’s first day in school and within social context, it investigates the conflict between adaptation and alienation, self-inflicted or otherwise. The project is a result of the artist’s studio residency program with VSSL Studio from October 2020 to June 2021.


hancock & kelly, Affective Labour, ]performance s p a c e[, 2017. Photo by Paul Samuel White.


Keijaun Thomas, ]performance s p a c e[, 2019. Photo by Andrea Abbatangelo..



PSX - a decade of performance art in the UK

12th to 20th August, 2021

This exhibition marked  the 10th anniversary of ]performance s p a c e[,  celebrating an auspicious decade as the UK’s only performance art-specific, residential space, studio and gallery with an exhibition of epochal photographs from the ]ps[ archive. 

Explicit, unapologetic & poetic; these images act as portals to various collaborations, geographies and moments from ]ps[' past, while projecting that energy into their future(s). The exhibition was  activated with live performances  by VSSL studio bursary artists Adriana Disman and Kelvin Atmadibrata.

www.performancespace.org

       Adriana Disman, PSX exhibition launch, 2021. Photos by Zack Mennell.

    
Kelvin Atmadibrata, PSX exhibition launch, 2021. Photos by Zack Mennell


Exhibiting Artists


performance artists
Keijaun Thomas, Nicholas Tee, Benjamin Sebastian, Poppy Jackson, Nina Arsenault, Ron Athey, Kris Canavan and Elizabeth Short (performing as Nick Kilby), Bean, hancock & kelly, and Jade Montserrat. 

photographers
Manuel Vason, Andrea Abbatangelo, Marco Beradi, Anna Martinou, Alethea Raban, and Paul Samuel White.

live performances
Kelvin Atmadibrata, and Adriana Disman.

PSX: a decade of performance art in the UK is supported using public funds by Arts Council England.








these teeming forms



Joseph Morgan Schofield

29th June - 3rd July

these teeming forms is a  performance film by Joseph Morgan Schofield, made in collaboration with Fenia Kotsopoulou, Mitchell Sowden and Zack McGuinness.

www.josephmorganschofield.com

 
All photos by Zack Mennell.
The land, like the body, is an archive. these teeming forms is a process of communing with the land, of (be)longing with and to it. Textural and sensate, these teeming forms explores porosity - of the land and body;  of eroticism and grief. There is no going back. Queer ecology is enacted here as a process of wilding, looking forwards and out, towards new mythic relations with the land.

these teeming forms premiered at VSSL within a performance installation.


Still from video by Fenia Kotsopoulou.






Gathering in a Time of Plague


VSSL studio programme

November 2020 - June 2021

Kimvi, VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by Zack Mennell.

VSSL was established  in a time of plague. In response to the conditions of pandemic, we intend that the studio remains a place where performance practices may continue to unfold, unmediated by the screen. Our work continues to foreground the power and immediacy of live performance.

Gathering in a Time of Plague was VSSL’s first public programme, and featured a series of developmental and performance  opportunities, which were programmed by invitation and open call.

→ PROGRAMME ARCHIVE

Artists

Kelvin Atmadibrata
Adriana Disman
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha
Jasper Llewellyn
E.M. Parry
Niya B
Shaun Caton
Jade Blackstock

Curators

Benjamin Sebastian
Joseph Morgan Schofield

The programme was funded by public funds from Arts Council England, and by VSSL studio and ]performance s p a c e[.

With thanks to Ash McNaughton.




Kelvin Atmadibrata, PSX exhibition launch, VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by Zack Mennell.

Studio Residencies

→ Gathering in a Time of Plague

Our studio community was  joined by artists Kelvin Atmadibrata and Adriana Disman, who undertook seven month studio residencies at VSSL, supported by Arts Council England and ]performance s p a c e[.



As an expansion of my post-graduate investigation of the performing masculine body, I was introduced to the language of queer abstraction and minimalist erotica that I have since been experimenting and developing within my illustration of the mecha and transhumanist fantasy. The past months of lockdown and consequential shift towards the digital have also evoked queries upon my personal pace as I struggled to keep up with both the pandemic and the online, both that have more than ever, evolved with such robust momentums. I plan to utilize the studio space, peer and mentoring support with VSSL to reflect on these observations and refocus my productive engine with the ultimate aim of progressing my current artistic inquiries.
-Kelvin Atmadibrata

VSSL interviewed Kelvin about his practice, the relationship between fantasy, the erotic, drawing and performance, and the importance of studio culture.

→ read Kelvin’s interview


Kelvin Atmadibrata, PSX exhibition launch,
VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by Zack Mennell.
Adriana Disman, PSX exhibition launch,
VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by Zack Mennell.


The love of my life is performance art. In the current context in which we are not able to witness the work of others, my own practice has shrivelled. It has no physical or mental space. It needs the nourishment and accountability to more creatures, to discover how it is now and what serves it. Through the support of this residency, I intent to cultivate a nourishing studio culture that mobilises potential exchange between artists to re-energise my commitment to my own practice. I am not looking for a simple physical space from which to transplant an already known practice, I’m looking for sparring partners who will challenge and push me with love and become part of the space that will form the practice. I dream that in this way, I might find some delicious edges from which to push off and kick out into a new ocean. Performance is vast.
-Adriana Disman




Kelvin and Adriana presented works made during the residency at the exhibition launch for PSX: a decade of performance art in the UK.


Kelvin Atmadibrata, PSX exhibition launch, VSSL studio, 2021. Film and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi.


Adriana Disman, PSX exhibition launch, VSSL studio, 2021. Film and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi.



Performance Programme

→ Gathering in a Time of Plague

The Gathering in a Time of Plague programme featured seven live performance works by Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, Jasper Llewellyn, EM Parry, Niya B, Shaun Caton, Kimvi and Jade Blackstock. unfolding in and around VSSL in the spring and early summer.

Niya B, VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by Zack Mennell.


Gathering in a Time of Plague compilation video. Videography and editing by Baiba Sprance and Marco Berad




Tongues, Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, VSSL studio, 2021. Photos by Zack Mennell.



Tongues


Chinasa Vivian Ezugha 

Saturday 17th April, 2021

Imagine a new space, a space of possibilities- vocality and movement. The mouth is the new theatre. RE-imagining space and the placement of the body in space, this performance will use the tongue as the point of entry into a new performative space. ( I may need to speak with you to expand )

Tongues is a one-to-one performance by Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, with each encounter lasting around 5 minutes.

Chinasa Vivian Ezugha is a Nigerian-born artist living and working in Hampshire. Her work looks at the transition of Black women and their identity within culture from colonised subjects to emancipated figures. Vivian works predominantly in performance, using the medium to decontextualise and reconstruct what it means to be alive in this present time andtoprotest for a worldwhere we are all allowed to dream. She is the founder of Live Art in Wymondham, a one-day site-specific series of events that aimed to bring emerging artists working in live art to rural Norfolk.

Her work has been presented in venues across Europe, America and the UK, including In Between Time Festival (Bristol, 2017),SPILL Festival (Ipswich, 2018) and Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival (Chicago, 2015). She is the winner of the New Art Exchange Open Main Prize (2019), and a recipient of the Santander Universities Post Covid-19 Performance Making Enterprise Award (2020).

vcezugha.wixsite.com/work-in-progress


Jasper Llewellyn

Saturday 8th May 2021

Working  to the tidal rhythm of the  Thames, Jasper Llewellyn’s work began on the shore of the river, before continuing at VSSL.

The work for VSSL contributes to a larger body of action-based interventions that Llewellyn has undertaken on the Thames foreshore in Deptford since mid-2020, most of which have been conducted without an audience. This ongoing series of actions are  embodied attempts to attune to the diverse array of affective and nonhuman entities that comprise the assemblage that we term ‘the Thames’, reimagining our relationship to the river as a whole in the process.

Jasper Llewellyn is an artist working with actions, sounds and words. His ongoing PHD research project involves the deployment of various embodied artistic strategies in order to take an expanded view of improvisation, treating it both as a methodology for living and art-making. He makes music with the project ‘caroline’ and has had writing published in Frieze magazine.

www.jasperllewellyn.co.uk/


Jasper Llewellyn, 2021. Photos by Zack Mennell.





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VSSL studio
Enclave, 50 Resolution Way
Deptford, London, UK
SE8 4AL

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