Fierce Festival 2019 / Birmingham, UK / 15 – 20 October

What the current six on Platinum got up to in September…

Artists on Fierce’s artist development scheme, Platinum, continue to demonstrate their potential with projects both within and beyond the Fierce fold. There are currently six artists on the program, with a further six to join them in the New Year. The application for the next round is now available.

One of the most positive things about this current cohort is the sheer range of practices among the group; from playwrighting to graphic design to VJing… discovering the overlaps within the group has been one of the richest aspects of their working together. What follows is an overview of how the Platinum artists have contributed to the Fierce Interrobang 2 that took place in Wendsbury in September – and other projects they are developing over the coming months. Cody Lee Barbour contributed with ‘Clocks & Pine Cones’ – a collection of A4 pieces of paper folded down into quarters. The texts were piled by the bar for audiences to pick up and take away with them. The texts ranged from gnomic in-jokes to observations of everyday life, such as CIGARETTES IN A GLASS OF WATER or A COLLECTION OF HEAT. Companis presented Gag, which they described as an ‘intimate moment in the form of a gob-stopper sweet and some suggestive literature’. The audience were asked to read aloud a passage from Irvine Welsh’s Porno, gob-stopper in mouth, alluding to sexual acts such as gagging. Something as simple as sucking a sweet and talking with a full mouth potentially becomes a sensual act as the words are read. Companis play with the notion of intimacy via shared saliva and the potential voyeurism of recording the encounter that is done alone in a booth, making this a simultaneously stimulating and an embarrassingly funny experience.

Later in September Companis presented Bawdyville, ARC @ The Vaults, various artists had been invited to occupy different vaults, there were experiments from Graeme Rose, Kindle and food artists Blanch & Shock among others. Earlier this month Companis continued their investigations into food and performance with Bone Dinner inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s Bone Meal (1971). Companis collaborated again with food designers Blanch & Shock, artists Juneau Projects and jeweller Elizabeth Short to realize this event. Jaskirt Dhaliwal took inspiration from dating agencies themselves, inviting attendees of the Live Art Speed Date to have their photographs taken in a readymade photo-studio. Jaskirt’s contribution was very much in the cross-disciplinary spirit of Platinum, extending her work y exploring the performative aspect of what she’s been doing. Meanwhile Arzhang Pezhman took his personal experience as the basis of his performance… “with a date of birth that isn’t my own and a name that sounds made up it’s never been easy to be honest, and often mistake being explicit for the truth.” He trialed ten minutes of autobiographical material that revisited his Iranian heritage alongside his homemade childhood special FX videos; in doing so he opened up rich questions around authenticity, memory and identity. Leon Trimble contributed to the Interrobang with a VJ set: performing music to found footage of lightning storms – which was incredibly effective and evocative of coming apocalypse. Finally Louis O’Grady continued to explore ideas he toyed with in Interrobang 1. He rewired a clock so that it span at triple speed with cartoonish effect. Although Louie’s background stems from musical composition he has focused on playful kinetic sculptures while on Platinum. Last month Louis had a work featured in up the wall live art festival and is currently enjoying a month long residency in the Netherlands. The Fierce Team eagerly await applications from artists across the region, who will hopefully match this diversity of practice.