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Poses past, part V – Mud Circles

11 November 2012

At the beginning of February 2012 an email titled ‘Performance Shoot’ arrived. The artist Adam James needed bodies. Borrowing the mailing list built by JocJonJosch for Existere, he outlined plans for a series of performances building to a grand finale in summer: the Mudhead Dance. The first performance would be Mud Circles:

“In a nutshell, the shoot will involve a group of twenty masked naked participants walking in various circle patterns. This performance is for camera only, so apart from a very small crew there will be no public or audience whatsoever. Obviously you will be masked so you will maintain your anonymity in the photograph. The nude part will be quick, and will only happen once we have first practised the circular walking method, involving odd ways of walking, various speeds, simple patterns and repetitions. Once this is finalised, the masked nude version will take place. As all the performers will be wearing full head masks that I have been making over the past 6 months I think visually it is going to be amazing.”

The purpose was to create a looping film that could be used to promote the main event. I signed up, and on 25 February made my way to the V22 Studios to participate. It was a clear sunny day, but bitterly cold. More so in the vast warehouse space where the shoot was to take place after the sun had dipped below the horizon. First of all we were called down in sets of twos and threes for individual shoots before reassembling as a group for full practice and performance.

The hardest part (excluding the endurance of cold) was navigating in a circle whilst wearing nothing but a heavy misshapen eyeless headpiece. On the plus side it was a pleasure to work for Adam, and the group of performers he assembled had some wonderful characters. It was during a conversation on the roof of the studio, looking out across London skyline, that I resolved to put my life model work on a proper footing for the year ahead.

The Mud Circles crew (I’m in all the photos below so use that clue to pick me out):

Circling:

In close-up:

The film, presented as a triptych…

Mud Circles video triptych (Vimeo)

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