Cradeaux Alexander: 'The artist-as-actor really comes into the fore here, when I take on iconic
Cradeaux Alexander is a London-based multi-media artist.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and concerns behind your art practice?
Construction, phenomenology, artist-as-actor, persona, the spaces
between making and observing, audience and event, writing and directing as practice… the list goes on and will probably never end.
Your practice seems to embrace various mediums, how do you connect all these elements together?
Beginning my practice as a performer has influenced all of my subsequent work, and I can trace my interest in constructed spaces and narrative from my initial work with live performance, theatre and writing. Working in a visual art context is different from working in the theatre it’s true, but my interest in the spaces between language of all sorts is one strong connecting force, and it’s not incongruous to adapt this underlying concept to all media, including my non performance-based work. When I embark on a new piece I begin with what I want to convey or think about, and how that eventually emerges, say as either a piece of theatre or a sculpture, comes about through improvisation which determines the best medium for that particular thought. My bronze banana peels (recent work ‘Slip’) convey the same slippage that some of my theatrical and performative writing does, just in a different medium.
There is quite a lot of humour in what you do. Can you tell us a bit about the work you created for the Coutts Sculpture Prize for example?
That was one of my first outdoor site-specific pieces – I used it as an opportunity to expand my writing practice in the form of garden plaques situated around the grounds. The site was a garden, occasionally opened to the public and privately owned, and the acquisitors were Sainsbury’s and Coutts Bank, so I felt like I wanted to have a bit of fun with what might be seen as a somewhat over-privileged prize and exhibition. Also I wanted to reinterpret the space I was working in, and create some knowing humour within the place and situation. ‘A Path of Unusual Morals’ is one of the signs I made for the place, and I think that sums up that particular intention well. Others were more whimsical (‘A Lake of Unparalleled Kindness’ comes to mind, though now that I think of it that might also be read as gently ironic…).
What about your work for Luxe, how did your interest in theatre come about and what are you trying to share with audiences through these performances?
Theatre came first for me, and my work as a professional theatre-maker came into its own in New York when I was artist-in-residence with Mabou Mines theatre. People interested in experimental theatre will know their name and impact, and they certainly had one on me – I left my acting work at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and met and worked with a lot of theatre artists working in an experimental mode in downtown New York, including Richard Foreman and the Ontological-Hysteric which became something of a second home for me. I developed my own company in that time, and I continue to work with LUXE as a company which has two strands, one being re-interpreting and re-discovering modern theatrical works, and the other as a space for new writing. Recently I directed the UK premiere of Picasso’s 1939 play ‘Desire Caught by the Tail’ at Bow Arts, and even more recently directed ‘Funeral Meats’, one of my own pieces of new writing at King’s Head Theatre. My work with LUXE is interested in expanding the theatrical form and creating new conversations around topical ideas.
What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice?
I am happily engaged in a new work called ‘Cat House’ which is bringing together many of my concerns both formally and conceptually into one space. It is a series of moving image works set in a theatrical structure which reconstruct horror heroes and heroines in a kind of cinema-meets-theatre-meets-installation environment. The artist-as-actor really comes into the fore here, when I take on iconic roles like Carrie and Pinocchio and other classic tropes of horror and mythology. Threat/terror/eroticism/falling/fleeing/disrupting/regendering/orgasm – just a few states I’m exploring. With films like ‘Carry’ (after ‘Carrie’) and ‘He Nose’ (after Pinocchio) and ‘Go Go Boy’ (after generic woman fleeing from evil in the woods), I am seeking to rethink representations of terror, gender, psychology, entertainment, and contemporary mythology. Apart from this large project I am newly engaged in drawing and painting, experimenting with literal ‘between’ spaces of paint (transparency, etc.) as a means to keep nuancing my interests in perception and phenomenology.
You can find at more about Cradeaux Alexander at www.cradeaux.com and his next project will be CAT HOUSE at Dyson Gallery, early 2018.