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Mel Brimfield’s lively and diverse visual art practice takes a skewed and tangled romp through the already vexed historiography of performance, appropriating theatrical and mainstream entertainment formats and genres to appraise the use and value of received cultural hierarchies. Drawing together multiple institutions, agencies, curators and producers representing a broad spread of disciplines, her work is the result of intensive collaboration with a rolling cast of actors, composers and musicians, designers, choreographers, dancers and singers, resulting in photographic, film and large-scale live performance works.
‘I’d reached something of a welcome hiatus after 5 years of back-to-back production of projects when I moved into Somerset House Studios. It’s been a chance to review and extend my modes of collaborative practice, and to find and test new partnerships and subjects without the constrictive structuring necessitated by tightly themed commissions. As an artist working independently, it can be challenging to engineer the sort of interdisciplinary support and presentation structures I need for my script-based performance work – being part of a visible community of similarly hard to categorise artists adds legitimacy!
Citing Somerset House Studios as a production partner has definitely been instrumental in setting meetings for an ambitious multi-region project I’m building, drawing together theatres and galleries in 4 cities in a network of co-production partnerships to support development of a major touring solo exhibition. The show will comprise multiple film installations. Specifically, through the Somerset House Studios Kings College scheme, I’ve recruited a team of prominent neuroscientists from the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neurology to support the research for the project – they will collaborate with me to develop a large Wellcome Trust bid in partnership with the research department at the Royal College of Art.
Looking forward, I’m working on establishing an interdisciplinary education project for postgraduate and PhD students with multiple universities, working with resident Somerset House Studios artists to mentor and support development of collaborative work at an early stage of training. I’m hoping to present work in development towards the exhibition series as a number of live events, and am having a number of conversations with resident artists about possible future collaborations.’
– Mel Brimfield