My article on Myra Breckinridge and decadent trans feminine allegory was republished in the Volupté 5yr anniversary issue
I recommend reading the rest of the issue esp the new translations of Lesla Ukraynka's ‘Your Letters Always Smell of Withered Roses’ and Davíð Stefánsson's 'Delirium'.
Your commissioned work is set to investigate ritual manifestation with five collaborators. Can you tell me more about your understanding of ritual as a device to create new realities in the world?
JP: One thing I remember growing up was thinking I had a gift to see the sky behind the clouds and I wonder if my practice is now an extension of this gift. It definitely feels like I am uncovering lost or unknown knowledge. The uncovering or retracing of this knowledge often will involve a form of repetition and this becomes a powerful tool to enter into a trance-like state or a state of being that removes you from your physical body and puts you into your spiritual body. I found this through some of my earlier work, where moments of repetition would allow me to not only enter into a more familiar space but also uncover the hidden elements of that familiarity. Repetition allows the energy of this discovery to summon the power needed to move the ritual to a space that transcends both choreography and movement.
Joshua is a finalist for the Keir Choreographic Award, his work work As Below, So Above will be shown at Dancehouse this year.
JHA: I love that idea of a body that’s stepped out, or transformed. That’s probably most obvious in the works made from burnt out underwear I think. I'm really inspired by neoclassical sculpture.. I'm a bit rusty on my art history to be honest, but I've always been really obsessed with Bernini's veiled heads and hands in marble. For a lot of these works I also think about this place I visited when I was in Germany, in Dresden. It was an old castle – it's probably historically important but I just completely ignored all that information – and it had a nymphaeum, something inspired by classical Greece. It's like a grotto for water spirits, full of sculptures. Some show people turning into fish.
AT: I think I once saw a copy of that big, famous Bernini sculpture of Daphne becoming a tree in London.
JHA: Yes exactly. These works, and the neo classical reference, also make me think about scale. I would love to make them huge or monolithic in some way. But there are parameters built into the medium of ceramics. They are already tempting impossibility in their fragility and the way they are made. So in installations I try to put things together in a way that makes them feel big when you’re standing in a space, like it’s one large fragmented work that you’re inside of. I like the nymphaeum because of the way the sculptures, and fountains, and mouldings all come together to create the grotto. I was also thinking about Green Men, which are these small motifs that are often on the mouldings of buildings, showing the face of someone that's turning into leaves. Some of the works from the Verge show were called Green Man I and II.
AT: Yes I was looking at some of the names you chose. One of them is called Lily of the Valley which I sort of fixated on, because in esoteric traditions Lily of the Valley is like a Rose of Sharon, these exquisite, valuable blooms that grow in dank and secluded places. The highest of the high and the lowest of the low. And that work is sort of reaching or striving upwards, which is...
JHA: It's very that.
AT: Yes, it's very that. I guess they all are. I was going to ask as well... has anyone ever said the phrase 'dirty laundry' to you, or spoken about airing it?
JHA: I'm actually sitting in amongst all my dirty laundry right now. It's been raining for so long in Sydney that we weren't able to do laundry, so dirty laundry feels like a big part of my life right now.
AT: Mouldy Sydney.
JHA: Dank. Wet. The work is essentially made from dirty laundry actually. I lot of them are made from Paris my partner's old T-shirts. I'm always just asking if there's anything she wants to throw out, and she really likes to tell people that they're her old T-shirts. All of my work actually feels like random stuff from my house. I think in 2020 I went through a phase where I was like, I don't want to do art anymore. And I decided that I was just going to be like a 'bedroom artist', showing old clothes or whatever.
AT: But also, because the works are textiles, or once were textiles, they have a perverse relationship with fashion.
JHA: Yes. I've been working at this consignment store called Revivre for so long that it's actually become, really embarrassingly, a significant part of my life. It was never supposed to be that, but I'm still there. So fashion is something that I am interested in, but also, not, at the same time.
AT: You mean you're not interested in it because of this sense of circulation and commercialism that surrounds it? It's interesting because this consignment store that sells revalued clothing pieces then makes its way into your practice, almost like a way of dealing with that circulation of art objects in the same way. Even as a bedroom artist you are sending these quite personal effects into the public realm.
JHA: That part of it is something that I've been thinking about and wanting to articulate more, but not quite sure how, yet. How do those two things come together... the public and the private... I don't know. I don't know really how to talk about it, but it's like... they just do.
Full text here.
Jana's works are available for purchase through Suite 7a.