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Text JF. Pierets Photos Courtesy of Ayakamay
Artist Ayakamay explores the interrelationship between photography and performance. She simultaneously appropriates traditional Japanese cultural aesthetics and creates a dialogue with contemporary American urbanity and femininity, through the whimsical lens of her personal experience as a Japanese-American woman. A conversation about interactive performances, pursuing your goal and fitting in.
Can you take me through the creative process of your last performance GENDERLESS?
Charles Leslie, founder of the Leslie – Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City, asked me if I wanted to perform in their space because he liked my previous work, IDOL WORSHIP, and because he thinks I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. I felt very liberated after he’d said that. The title GENDERLESS comes from the fact that Ayakamay believes that there is no gender. I’ve been with women, men, and at one point I even had a gay boyfriend. I was curious to explore what being without gender meant to me. I know that biologically I’m a woman, but when you talk about your feelings, your soul, or something that you cannot see, it doesn’t have any gender. So I shot hundreds of portraits of myself, trying to express my femininity and masculinity. If you look at your face you can see both your mother and your father, I was splitting it up to figure out which part comes from whom. I discovered that one side of my face looks like my mother and the other like my father so I made photo prints where I mirror those exact sides. Therefor giving myself a more masculine, feminine or neutral face.
People often judge someone’s gender by looking at the face, since that’s the most identifying part of your body. By shooting my own picture and using make-up and facial hair, I realized that it was only about changing things on the outside. Inside, I’m still a woman in a woman’s body. I kept searching on what being genderless meant to me and at one point I even got confused and depressed because I realized I could not escape from my gender. Through the portraits I started creating I searched for a way to become genderless, if that even exists. The most significant thing I kept changing in the portraits was my hairstyle. So a few days before the performance I decided I had to have my hair shaved by the audience.The creative process was basically me, thinking I was genderless – which I was not – and then wanting to become that. Kind of looking for a utopian state.
Did the audience willingly participate?
They did, the audience took turns in cutting my hair and they were more emotional than I was. My performance is all about the third person. The audience comes in and they complete my work. The fact that people wanted to take my strands of my hair home with them, became very touching to me. For me, it was a successful performance because nobody stabbed me with the scissors.
Is your work always so intense?
I think my performances are indeed quite intense but they have a double layer. By making things very fabulous and gay, I try to make eye candy to get people’s attention at first. Yet in the end my work is very dark and contains a spiky message. One of my performances is that I dress up in a kimono with a big red wig. I don’t talk but when people ask me what I do, I ask if I can clean their ear. Some people say yes, some of them say “hell no!”. I’m challenging what people think. Some of them think I’m just a weirdo who will poke their brain out with the bamboo stick that I use, but somehow most of the people trust me and lay down on my lap. The performance causes a possibility of danger, but it is mainly about trust.
Is it you performing, or are you in character?
I never feel like it’s another persona. I’ve been moving between different countries because of my parents’ job and I’ve always had difficult times fitting in to each place. I always knew that if I made new friends, it would only last for 3 months because then we would move again and I had to be another person all over again. I know I could have just been myself, but I didn’t want to get hurt so I made it impersonal. So I tried to be someone who came and went, which is something I still do in my performance. It’s a way to express where I came from, a different line to communicate with people.
Is performing something you have to do in order to keep balanced?
I think so, yes, because I was always an outsider, never able to fit in anywhere. People were always asking if I was a man or a woman, if I was Japanese or American, and at one point I didn’t want to answer those questions anymore. They made me uncomfortable because I didn’t feel I had to choose either one. Going somewhere and creating a surreal and odd atmosphere through my work, makes people as uncomfortable as I am. Sometimes there’s a harmony and that’s when people enjoy what they are seeing and experiencing. So yes, I have to say that I do have to perform in order to fully be who I am. In fact I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember.
Is the world you’re creating a fantasy?
I think it’s the opposite. I live in that world but it doesn’t fit in real life. For me it’s a fantasy to have a lover, to go to a movie theatre, eat dinner, and to cuddle at night. Things that people do on a regular basis are things that I cannot relate to.
When looking at your CV, I read that you had a breakthrough in 2014. What happened?
Until 2014 I was doing my performances, but making money helping out in photo productions. I didn’t earn very much but even if I hardly made enough money to pay the month’s rent, I realized that when I was stuck in one place, I was unable to see my future. In May of that year I decided to quit everything – I didn’t even have any savings – and go to Europe. Previously in New York I had met people from the Licht Feld gallery in Basel, Switserland. I wanted to be part of the art world so I needed to see more, show more, so basically my plan was to go to Switzerland and tell the people from the gallery I wanted to work with them. When they took me in right away, it was the beginning of my work being part of art fairs and being put up for display.
How is it being a woman in the art world?
I have the feeling that as a woman, you get judged more by what you are and how you look. It’s unfortunate, but if you’re discriminated as a woman, it’s the same thing as being judged upon the color of your skin. It’s all about the first look, isn’t it? And it happens all the time so maybe that’s why I keep continuing to perform, because maybe one day I can show that anything is possible. Also for women. I struggled quite a lot in my life and I have the feeling that if someone had shown me another way to let myself free, it probably would’ve been easier. So if I can be that person for someone, it would be great. Whatever you do or say, it always affects people.
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Text JF. Pierets Artwork Bubi Canal
Surrealism meets objet trouvé, meets performance art and photography. The art of Bubi Canal includes many disciplines, yet its common thread is the ability to make you happy. His work is positive, colorful and carries you along into this magical world filled with vivid creatures in geometric shapes and powerful imagery. Here is a glimpse into the disarming universe of Bubi Canal.
You’re originally from Spain, but moved to New York?
I was born in Santander, Spain, and met my husband Paul—who is American—in 2010 when I was living in Madrid. I ended up moving to New York in 2011. I can’t say it’s been easy to start over. I didn’t know where to find a photo studio and didn’t have any friends. But, New York is an inspiring place to live as an artist. People are very open and it’s a comfortable place to share your work.
Your work hardly has any reference to current hypes or trends.
My work represents a fantasy world, a universe where magic happens and where the sun always shines. It’s about what I feel and love, so you could say it’s a projection of my emotions. I’m an optimist and want that to be reflected in my work. My work changes as I evolve. It reflects the changes that happen in my life, like my interest in new technologies. I love applying their capabilities into my work.
You work with the people and objects that surround you.
My ideas are simple, and I find the most practical way to execute them within my means. I use myself or my friends as models, I shoot mostly in my neighborhood and my sculptures are made of plastic toys and found items. My work is an extension of my life. I can be inspired by a person, location or garment, for example. I’m always checking second hand shops for pieces I can use.
What inspires you?
Being open to intuition, ideas for my work come quite easily to me. I wait and see what comes up. I feel a connection to Japanese culture; I used to watch a lot of Japanese TV shows while growing up in Spain. I’m also a huge fan of Michael Jackson—his work inspires me tremendously.
What’s your work method?
I don’t have an image in mind at the beginning. I start working with a blank slate, so the end result is usually surprising to me. I enjoy myself and see where it goes from there. At times, I’ll start working on something and don’t even know what shape it will take. The end result could be an object in itself, or become a prop for a photo. Sometimes the idea turns out to be about movement, and then I’ll take it into the realm of video.
You must have a lot of fun.
I do. I look for the easiest way to create my work, so the process remains enjoyable while being effective.
How did your first solo show in New York come to be?
My work was featured as part of a group show titled Psychopomp, which was curated by Alberto Cortés and showed at the Munch Gallery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Gallerist Lillan Munch, the owner of the venue, asked if I’d be interested in doing a solo show. That led to Special Moment, my first solo show in New York. I was looking forward to people’s reactions, which were positive. I’m currently working on a new exhibition for the Digitaliseum gallery in Malmo, Sweden, as well as a publication about my work, with text by Jorge Clar, for Pupa Press.
What’s your biggest dream?
To inspire in the same way I’ve been inspired by the work of others. Ideally, my creations could be a catalyst for positivity.
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Text JF. Pierets Photos Belle Ancell
Belle Ancell is a queer community photographer living in Canada. Amongst her series there is “Unveiled”, portraits of the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In-depth photographs and representations of people who are, just like Belle herself, looking for a way to give back to and to strengthen their community.
Why choose the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as a subject?
Because they are so beautiful. I used to see them around and at first I thought they were drag queens, or performers, clowns. I didn’t realize they were philanthropists who contribute a lot of their time and money to the community. As an order, they take their commitment very seriously and are actually taking vows for life. I just wanted to do something to honor them because I don’t think a lot of people understand who they are and the importance of what they are doing. At least I didn’t.
Are you a part of the order?
They made me an Angel. An Angel is someone who, in some way, has contributed to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It’s an honorary title and a way for them to thank me for the project and the portraits.
The project is your way of giving back to the community, can you elaborate?
It’s to give back, to highlight and to acknowledge certain aspects. I love my community and I truly think there’s not enough imagery out there that is positive and beautiful. I want to put that out into the world by documenting our lives. I didn’t know anything about queer history when I was younger. Not via schools, not anywhere. Now, as I’m getting older, I’m starting to learn more about the activists that paved the way for me to sit at my job and be completely ‘out’, to be queer and feel more or less safe. So yes, I think it’s important because there is still so much work to be done.
Talking in terms of ‘we’ is a very recent development since you didn’t come out until you were 32 years old?
And until then I had absolutely no idea. I was 32, living in a tiny town in Canada where there was nothing but stigma, negativity and homophobia. There was no queer content available in the late ‘80’s, nor were there any movies or TV-shows on the subject matter. I didn’t know where to find the reading material and the Internet wasn’t as evolved as it is now, so there was absolutely no way for me to find those queer artists. I slowly clued in via a same-sex couple that moved into my village. All of a sudden it just clicked. So I can say it took me a while to wake up. I wasn’t self aware and very, very much in denial.
And all of a sudden you find yourself in a community.
I feel so fortunate; I wouldn’t change this for anything. We’re minorities, however you interpret it, so we look out for each other and support each other. We have our own culture, art, music, and it’s an amazing feeling to be part of that kind of queer movement.
You use the word queer. What’s your personal definition of the word?
I discovered the word queer about 15 years ago and it just clicked. To me it’s everything I am. I’m not lesbian or gay; I’m queer. Finding the exact language to describe your community is an ongoing discussion, but I feel confident with the word. That some older people feel uncomfortable with the term – because it was used violently against them – is something I try to respect in our conversations. But it’s evolving every day, everything is changing, language is changing and I’m open to everyone’s perspective. There are a lot of people who are working hard to make space for everyone and trying to find the right language and even working on their own prejudices. Because we’re all human and we all have misconceptions. It’s an evolution and we all need to be open to listening and caring.
What would you like to achieve with your work?
I’d like to be remembered for contributing to the community. Documenting it, showing the beauty of the community, the challenges. I’m currently working on a series called ‘Aging Out’ and it’s about LGBT elders and the unique challenges they face as they age. People are starting to realize the value of connecting with our past. We need that. Recently I was at a circle with LGBT people from all different ages, ranging from 20 to 70 years old, and we all told our coming out story. It was exciting to discover that although there were differences, there were also many commonalities. I feel like it’s my purpose to use this gift of photography to make all the wonderful things that happen in our community common good. Yes, these personal projects are definitely the core of who I am.
Text JF. Pierets Photos Courtesy of Ivan E. Coyote
On the day of this interview, New York passed a civil rights law that requires all single-users restrooms to be gender neutral. A decision of great impact on the daily reality of trans people and a life-changing event for Ivan E. Coyote. The award-winning author, renowned performer and lecturer considers themselves a gender failure; failing the gender binary which has equally failed them. A conversation about language, engaging with an audience, using the pronoun ‘they’, and toxic masculinity.
You stated, “I have failed the gender binary and it has failed me”. Can you elaborate?
The gender binary is one of the most effective power structures ever created and is used to perpetrate horrible things upon each other. The process of indoctrination begins as soon as the parents find out what the gender of their child is. They literally start talking differently, using a different tone of voice, and expecting different things from boys and girls. Meanwhile there is so much more to the reality of gender than just men and women and there always has been some version of people like me in every culture. If we acknowledge that fact and respect it, the whole thing will break down. We would be chipping away at the foundation of one of the biggest systems that we use to oppress people and especially women. Because even in so-called westernized societies, we still socialize young women differently, we still tell them what they can and cannot do. I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that more and more people are emboldened to come out of the gender closet and that I am a problem that is not going away. So if we, as a society, say that we have human rights for everyone, then we have to decide what that means and act upon it. It’s going to be good in the long run; it will make the world fairer, more truthful and more authentic.
What changes do we have to make in order to create such an ideal world?
One of the things we need to do in order to make a better world and in order to completely allow people to express who their real true self is, is unraveling the concept of unexamined toxic masculinity. It’s poisoning our society, and some of the biggest sufferers under that regime are men and boys. They are expected to perform this ideal masculine dance that is both not possible and not healthy, but still we continue to put that unrealistic nonsense in – for example – movies. A man has big muscles, fires guns and gets the girl in the end. Our boys are lost with those kind of role models. If we take that apart, and give women the right to their own bodies and education, a lot of things would change. I’m not interested in a gender revolution just so we can all wear what we want, that would be a nice byproduct, but I’m talking about liberation for women and men and everyone else. I’m not even sure if I can wrap my mind around how fundamental a change that would be. I know I can only affect my little corner of things, and part of that is fighting for my own human right to just be, and to go through the world. Step by step.
Is your personal use of the pronoun ‘they’ a part of those steps?
‘They’ is the pronoun I feel most comfortable with. Is it perfect for me? No. For years I struggled using the pronoun ‘she’ because that’s what I was raised up with. It’s hard to describe how uncomfortable that feels if you have never experienced it. In my book Gender Failure I try to describe it as somehow being carved away at. Often, the media can only understand trans people if they still “fit”: Trans people are all right as long as they look like Caitlyn Jenner and the only thing they want is to become a woman. I don’t want to be a man but don’t feel like a woman either, and that’s a difficult place to be in, yet that is my authentic self and there is nothing harder than spending an entire lifetime trying to cover up your authentic self. Using ‘they’ was not an easy decision to make and it still isn’t, because after 11 books, multiple awards, 3 films and 6 live shows, some people still reduce me to nothing but a pronoun. They’re falling back on these grammar rules, which are not even actually correct since the use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun goes back to the 16th century, to Chaucer and Shakespeare, who both employed it. Language changes all the time to incorporate the people who are utilizing it. And that’s what it’s supposed to do. 15 years ago ‘Google’ was not even a verb or a word. Now we’re using it all the time and it’s even in the dictionary. It’s been incorporated because there was a need for it. So I’m sure that when somebody really digs their heels in, it’s not actually grammar that is the problem. They are resisting that change because it makes them uncomfortable, and it has nothing to do with language.
You are called a queer author, does that match with how you identify?
I’m situated in an interesting place on the gender spectrum but when I speak to people to whom my work resonates, it’s often about much more than just the queer themes. I also write about working class dynamics, for example, or about big families, or about the Yukon, where I come from. All those things are an important part of who I am. But I do mostly write things that are drawn from personal life, which obviously colors and flavors my non-fiction work. It wouldn’t be accurate to remove myself from those experiences but labels tend to limit both our readership and us. What makes me want to write is the ability to increase the narrative. To put more stories about queer life out there, about those of us who don’t really align with the gender binary. At the same time I resist being put in a box. I’m a writer. Period. There is a place where those labels cease to be effective but if I’m only writing stories for queer people, it’s not going to increase us being understood by those who are not exactly like us.
Is that the reason why your prose is very accessible?
I don’t know, I think it’s just my style, my nature as a writer. I was an electrician while I was working on my earlier writing career so I don’t consider myself an intellectual. I’m a storyteller. My aim is to have things resonate with people so that they can find some personal truth, some way of relating it back to their own story. Dressing it up and making it complicated, especially when it doesn’t need to be, is not engaging. All that intellectualized stuff would get in the way of the level of engagement that I am looking for in a reader.
Is performing a way to be closer to your readers?
I started live storytelling before I got published so it was always a part of my art practice. Sometimes when I pick the right story, in the right order, in the right place and I approach it with the right heart, I have these moments of spiritual connection between the audience and myself. You can have this moment of looking inside each other’s hearts – seeing a glimmer of the true humanity of the other person. It doesn’t happen all the time but those moments are pretty magical. I realize that a lot of people are never moved by their every day job so I try to be grateful.
What’s your motivation for speaking in high schools?
One of my main motivators for speaking in public high schools is because my cousin Christopher, who I was really close to growing up, committed suicide when he was 21. I think he was gay, but we don’t know and we will never know, but he was a misfit and was horrifically bullied all the way through school. I think it’s very important to talk about how we treat each other and how that affects us. I know that’s hard to believe when you’re 15 years old, but all those things don’t disappear when you graduate. It’s a moment in our lives where we’re learning to believe or not believe in ourselves, it’s the moment when we decide if we matter. So I try to have a one on one about school bullying and respect on a Friday afternoon, in a gymnasium of 600 kids with the attention span of a music video. I can tell you; it’s not a job for the faint of heart.
You are a role model for many; did you have one when you were younger?
Not exactly, but there were a lot of woman in my family who challenged the rigid ‘70’s gender box and therefore inspired me as a young human. Yet if I have to name someone, it would be Annie Lennox doing her Elvis drag at the Grammy’s in 1984. It got me on another planet.
What would you say to a young kid who looks up to you?
I have struggled with depression my entire life and one of the things that gets me through the harder days is knowing that these things cycle in and cycle out. And things get better when you actively work to make them better; when you seek out a community or build a community, when you take action. I tell kids at school that art, writing and music got me through school and through life. You need to seek the things that make you feel good. You need to seek them out and you need to do them, and then you need to do them again. Not because you want to be the best but because the act of doing them is life affirming, constructive, therapeutic and joyous. Feeling good comes with a qualification and it involves some work on your part.
Ivan has a new book, Tomboy Survival Guide (based on the stage show) coming out with Arsenal in Fall 2016.
Text JF. Pierets Photos Courtesy of Virgin Xtravaganzah
As an impersonator of the Virgin Mary, performance artist Virgin Xtravaganzah talks about how Mary actually loves the gay community and that people got it wrong in the books. That God doesn’t care whether you’re gay or straight; he just wants you to be a good person and get over these trivial limitations. A conversation about working from an outward place, the joy of performing and identification with an icon.
You’ve just returned from some gigs abroad. You’re quite busy these days.
It’s been quite a big year in terms of my development on the scene. Last year I won a drag competition and started to perform the Virgin Xtravanganzah persona on a regular basis. It seems like people very much respond to the character.
Why do you think that is?
I think because it’s intriguing. The story of the Virgin Mary, the legend, is very much built into our psyche, even if you are not a Christian. To see that kind of icon impersonated by a drag queen with a mustache, is quite attention grabbing.
How did you come up with the concept of impersonating the Virgin Mary?
I was, as I call it, casually raised Catholic. I was never baptized but I went to a Catholic school so as from a very young age, I got acquainted with the Bible. I’ve always been very drawn to dramatics and loved the over-the-top archetypes in fairytales. I had a similar feeling about the Virgin Mary. She was, and still is, a mysterious creature. Did you know that there are only 14 lines in the Bible about her? We don’t know anything about her and still, she’s everywhere: she’s on the altar and in paintings, as well as there are millions of statues to light a candle in front of. She has such a presence in the church yet she has no voice. So I thought; what would it be like if she was a modern day 14 year old girl? What would she sound like if she were growing up today? So I gave her this American valley girl accent and I started to create an identity.
Do you identify with your character?
I do, yes. I like to put myself into a 14-year old person’s mind frame, approached by the creator of the universe who said: “Would you like to have my son and be immortalized for the rest of all eternity?” Would you dare to say no if it were you? The point is that we will never know what went through Mary’s head, her internal monologue, when that happened. She definitely didn’t know what she was getting into. I think that’s something a lot of people can identify with. Everybody is young at one point and makes decisions that they look back on and question if that was actually what they wanted to do with their life. In my incarnation of Mary, she has become a drag queen and came back to earth to do all the things she didn’t really get to do as a religious icon.
You’re very thorough when it comes to your drag identity.
My drag is very different from a lot of other drag queens since many of them work from a different place than I do. They work from an inside-out kind of way; they take something from deep within themselves, put a magnifying glass on it, and that explosive image is what becomes their drag. Whereas for me, I’m not the Virgin Mary, obviously, so I took a character outside of myself and experimented with what happens if I internalized and regurgitated that. This became my drag character. It came from an outward kind of place instead of something coming from the inside out.
You are a trained actor. How did you become a performance artist?
I’m originally from Oregon, USA and I came to the UK to study drama. I’ve always been an attention seeker and I’ve always liked being watched doing silly things in a very broad context. I really thought acting was the thing I wanted to do but over the years I got a bit bored. I felt it was something else that I wanted to offer, something that didn’t come from somebody’s script or from a casting director. As an actor you’re always at the whim of somebody else’s idea. I can play Hamlet, but I did not create Hamlet. I didn’t create the Virgin Mary, but I did create Virgin Xtravaganzah and she’s an original concept. Through her I can be more authentic as an artist then I can be as an actor.
Can you put all your creativity into one character?
I can. I love the performative art form and I’m just as much a writer as I am a drag queen. I write all my own material, I sing live instead of lip-syncing and I take pop songs and rewrite them to tell the story of the Virgin Mary in a comic sort of way. Basically I’m the Weird All Yankovic of Catholicism.
Is the art of performance limitless?
In it’s potential, it is, but there must be limits in the way you approach it. If you set out to just explode your soul all over an audience, there’s not going to be any structure and people might not understand what they are seeing. I find there is a limit and structure to performance art and I don’t believe you can just do whatever you want; there has to be some kind of boundary to be set for yourself. However, once those boundaries are in place, you can completely lose control. If you only set out to lose control, it’s actually more limiting. You have to make choices in order to be professional and in order to tell the exact story you aim for. Not just give birth to a vision but to give that vision a language, so that people can understand. Art that doesn’t do that becomes vague.
Is it important for you that people understand the context of the performance, because of its religious theme?
To be honest, I’m surprised that I haven’t had more backlash. We’re talking very few comments on social media. Maybe it’s because I try to base as much of my work as possible on my intelligence. I do not make fun of the Virgin Mary and I don’t set out to be blasphemous. Because by the end of the day, the things that I stand for and the things that I talk about in my songs are about how she actually loves the gay community and that people got it wrong in the books; that God doesn’t care whether you’re gay or straight. He just wants you to be a good person and get over these trivial limitations. If you set out not to have prejudice, it wouldn’t matter whether you’re a Catholic, a Muslim or a Buddhist, and we should actually all get along. So if people are really listening to what I’m actually saying, and hopefully most people do, they’ll notice that I’m far from offensive. Yes, I have foul language sometimes, but that’s also part of the character; not wanting to be the good girl all the time but to be human.
You’re living in the UK, could you do this kind of show in the USA, where you come from?
I have no idea to how receptive America would be to what I do. I don’t know because I never tried and it’s one of my goals to go to New York next year and actually see how people feel about my work. The Brits are very open to – I’m not going to say intelligent art, because that may say I’m intelligent – but intellectualized art. They’re very receptive to wit and to humor in particular, they don’t take things very seriously. Now America, with it’s very fundamental religious foundation, is different, and in many ways I think Virgin Xtravaganzah would be more controversial in a place like America then it would be in Europe. I also feel that the London attitude towards drag is much more free than in America, where it’s considered female impersonation. I like it more to be androgynous; to use my mustache and my skinny frame instead of being a copy of the Ru Paul’s Drag Race contestants where everybody has the boobs, the hips and the wig.
Are you inspired enough to give the character a long lasting life?
I am! I was actually just talking to my husband today that I could actually see Virgin Xtravaganzah as an old woman. There are some drag queens – and I’m looking amongst others to Dame Edna – who are older. They are artists who managed to keep the art of drag alive, far past what many drag queens have been able to do. When I get older I think it would be really interesting to see the Virgin less as a teenager but more as an older and wiser woman.
It sounds like you very much enjoy what you are doing.
I do love it, it was an original idea that hadn’t been done before and it makes me very happy. Joy is really powerful, even if everybody talks about how good art always comes from depression. If you enjoy doing what you are doing, people respond to it, always. It’s like magic.
What would you say to a 14-year old person, living in the middle of nowhere, who’s very inspired by your work?
I grew up in a very small town so I know exactly what you are talking about. If you’re living in the middle of nowhere and really want to be an artist, it would be very easy for me to say that you should move to the big city and become a great artist. It would be easy to say, “follow your dreams, do what you want to do”. No doubt that’s an important part, but you also have to understand that life is working within the confines and the limits that you have. There’s always specificity and there’s always complexity, and the more specific you can be with your dreams and aspirations, the better. I came to the UK to go to drama school and I spent years out of work as an actor. I was working in a call center and I was very depressed; I knew I wanted to be a performer but I was constantly looking for somebody else to give me the opportunity. Whether it was my agent or a director, I was constantly looking outside of myself for someone to figure out who I am. It was only when I hit rock bottom that I realized I wanted to do something because it was fun. And that’s when things started happening. So, before anything, find the idea. Whatever that idea is. Find that vision, find that fantasy, whether it’s performance art, writing or painting. Find it first, and then go for it.