My work is diverse, moving from a base in performance into visual art and fiction. Working across these different media and contexts seems to open up new possibilities and allows me to approach related ideas again by different routes, hoping to get closer to or maybe further away from the thematics and experiences that interest me – searching for a new perspective.
In performance and in art practice my work is often concerned with liveness and presence, with the unfolding of events in time and place. The place where things happens could be an LCD monitor or a computer screen, a stage, the space of a page, a gallery, a found site, a street, or some private space – a room or a car for instance – in which a person might listen to the radio or read a text. In each work or project something happens – there is an encounter, a process, the unfolding of an event and its implications and an exploration of the dynamic relationship between the work and the viewer. At the centre of many of the projects there is a fascination with rules and systems in language and in culture, on the way these systems are both productive and constraining. Many of the projects also stage or imply an event, an idea, or an object that is at the same time unravelled and assembled. The mechanisms and economies of this process – of exposure and concealment, construction and deconstruction, appearance and disappearance – are at the heart of what I do.
In my fiction I’m interested in finding new approaches to story and to character, as well as in exploring the limits and possibilities of language itself. I’m often drawn to very particular voices, and to collaging or creating collisions between seemingly disconnected narratives and worlds. Slang or blunt pub anecdote, for instance, might sit side by side in my writing with internet technical jargon, B-movie quotation or phrases from fairy tales as the collection Endland Stories (Pulp Books 1999) and the later work The Dream Dictionary (Duck Editions, 2001) established. My first novel; The Broken World, which takes the form of a slacker love story crossed with a guide or walkthrough to a non-existent computer-game, was published by Heinemann in Hardback in July 2008 and in paperback in September 2009.
In addition to working solo, many of my projects in art and performance have been collaborative in some way – I have led the performance group Forced Entertainment, based in Sheffield, UK since its inception in 1984. I have collaborated with the photographer Hugo Glendinning, with writer and curator Adrian Heathfield, and with artist Vlatka Horvat. I have also done projects with artists Asta Groting, Elmgreen and Dragset and Franko B, and with choreographers Meg Stuart and Wendy Houstoun, and with the dancer Fumiyo Ikeda, amongst others.
In terms of critical and academic work, I have taught, written and published extensively on contemporary performance and art. My book Certain Fragments (Routlege 1999) documents and theorises the body of work in performance I have created with Forced Entertainment. Between 2004 and 2007 I was a Creative Research Fellow at Lancaster University. In 2007 I was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dartington College of Arts, in recognition of my writing for and about contemporary performance. I am currently Legacy: Thinker in Residence (2009-2010) at Tate Research and LADA in London.
In recent years I have exhibited work at Sketch and Butchers (both London), Netherlands Media Art Institute (Amsterdam), Sparwasser HQ (Berlin), Art Sheffield 2008, ArtFutures (Bloomberg SPACE, London), The Centre for Book Arts, Canada and Exit Art (all New York), Kunsthaus Graz and Manifesta 7 (2008) in Rovereto, Italy. I co-curated and had new commissioned work in the Performing Sculpture section of the DLA Piper Series: This is Sculpture, at Tate Liverpool (2009) and took part in the Gotenburg International Biennale, What a Wonderful World (2009). In the same year I took part in After Architecture at CASM, Arts Santa Mònica, Barcelona and in The Malady of Writing, at MACBA, also in Barcelona.
For current activity please check the listings part of the site.