14 MAY – 12 JUNE, 2021
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Our current artist residency sees REBECCA MOSS relocate her urban interventionist practice from rural Essex to the Potteries. Rebecca's practice critically examines heroic narratives through absurdist gestures, which can take a wide variety of forms across performance, video and sculpture. She is particularly interested in how interventions and gestures informed by slapstick comedy can speak to power through humour, and are intensified by a feminist perspective.

Over the course of 5 weeks, Rebecca will be walking and responding to this new (to her) setting, seeking out the glitches and incongruities that characterise the urban environment. Here are Rebecca's residency updates:

text by Rebecca Moss

In my last week in Stoke, Rebecca Davies and I hosted a feminist walk, loosely inspired by the Reclaim the Night protests of the 1970s. I commented to Rebecca that it felt great to share thoughts and research in such a direct way with an audience, and I really enjoyed the discussion it provoked in the group. The participants of the walk generously shared so many of their thoughts around urban planning, public sculpture, symbols of power and the future of wild spaces in the city. I realised how much I value a simple chat with people to broaden my awareness and understanding of a place.

In the window, I have left a majestic eagle sculpture, undertaking a struggled circle with a mechanism that I constructed from a bicycle wheel and a disco ball motor. I was reflecting on Unnatural Selection, and predator/prey power relationships. I have always liked the idea of a limp, tragic or somewhat ridiculous predator.

text by Rebecca Moss

This week I spent many hours in the studio, enjoying having such a vast room to bring a vast array of sculptural materials together, many of which were sourced from a local brownfield site. I have been thinking very carefully about the ideas of the writer Karin Reisinger, who suggests that ruined and derelict spaces are feminist in that there is an interaction on the surface of the material between human and non-human elements. I feel like I am finding ways to articulate the intuitive pull that I feel towards some landscapes and objects.

text by Rebecca Moss

This week I have been thinking about the specific characteristics of the landscape in and around Stoke-on-Trent, such as the remnants of factories and waterways in the postindustrial landscape. I found it surprising how much Stoke reminds me of places along the Thames Estuary where I have spent the last year walking, such as abandoned wharves that still have their former mechanisms to lift things on and off of boats.

One question I have been asking myself recently is how could these postindustrial spaces be reimagined from a feminist perspective? I have also spent a huge amount of time walking, and thinking about the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other. Following the footsteps of the mass protesters at Kinder Scout in 1932, I began to think about how walking could be considered a subversive and radical activity, emphasising the physicality and movement of the body in a space where its presence might ordinarily be restricted or censored.

text by Rebecca Moss

In the first few days that I spent up in Stoke, I was struck by how differently a place is experienced in-person, on-foot, rather than online from afar, and how it is an important part of my approach to physically interact with an environment with my body. I spent the entire trip walking and trying to identify and absorb the many fascinating elements of the landscape, within the urban environment and then further out towards the Peak District.

I was amazed at how the post-industrial legacy is still strongly evident in every street, and how there seemed to be a question mark hanging over the future plans for this architecture and the communities that once depended on specific industries. I began thinking about the difference between the highly contrived, artificial movement and management of the canal system and the rugged wildness of Hen Cloud.
I also managed to walk into a low bridge on the canal system and bumped my head, causing my hat to fly backwards off my head. An amused man on a narrowboat commented, “they’re a lot lower than they look.”

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