Raphaella Davies

18th Oct 2018

Hi Raphaella! Thanks so much for getting involved, we hope the tea is to your liking!

HEY!

The tea is delicious! Very calming, v pleasant 💖


1. Can you give us an introduction to your practice, interests and experiences?

So I find it quite difficult to not go off topic when talking about myself, apologies in advance if this is one very long, unstructured rant BUT among the chaos I have talked about most topics requested.

There are multiple versions/sides to my practice. Naturally everything merges and blends quite easily and everything is interchangeable. The mains points I like to talk* about are humour, accessibility (to the arts, to anything and everything. In general things are not accessible enough for people), perceptions on taste, social practice, absurdity, and television sets.

*Talk – speak verbally, research, make work about, converse, think about etc etc (all encompassing)

I’m interested in accessibility, which is naturally how my interest in social practice formed (while I was at university). Social practice is difficult to navigate, because a lot of the time organisations and individuals use it as a façade and get involved for the wrong reason. I must say though, I’ve met some incredible people doing and producing wonderful things through my involvement and interest in certain socially engaged projects. Notably OK The Musical, which is a fantastic project by Christopher Kline I worked on – take a look if you haven’t heard of it, because it’s bloody lovely – okthemusical.com.


2. Talk us through your working processes, what are you working on at the moment?

The work that I produce, curate and direct is as much a part of my practice as the work I create myself. It’s important to me that I take time to acknowledge this!

Currently my practice is mostly researching humour theory and this idea of taste. A lot of what I’m thinking about is the westernisation of these ideas and perceptions surrounding both of these topics.

Aside from my art I like hiking, dogs (my dog makes me so happy, often makes an appearance in my work), trying new things, singing (karaoke) and I have a particular like for really sad songs (lol).


3. Your bio says that you are based in Liverpool and rural Northumberland. How do you experience making and developing art in both these environments and what role does place play in informing your practice?

I like to spend a lot of time with my family, I grew up mostly in the city centre in Newcastle, my mum worked in data for most of my life, then she got ill and once she recovered returned to her own Artistic Practice. My Step-dad is also very creative, he is a 3D designer, used to design games but now he brews beer in a brewery and 3D designs/3D prints and does photography/filming freelance and for fun.

I’m telling you about my parents because about a decade ago they moved to a tiny village in the Northumberland. This is a community of about 300 people in a 3-4 mile radius, but a lot of people who live there are artists, makers, creatives or take the time to involve themselves in those space because they are accessible there.

I make time to be there because it’s such a beautiful, calming place that allows me to realign my perspective on things. To me, it’s an otherworldly place, concentrated with incredible and often bizarre people.

It’s great to go to Allenheads, because it’s really a place for me to just think about art, there are no other distractions (dog and beer, but both help). I often visit with the intent of going to the events there, of which there are many, thanks to Allenheads Contemporary Arts.


4. Can you tell us more about your research project Alius, and how the development of that durational performance piece is coming along?

So the development is gooooood, well boring to be honest. I’m sick of talking about it and just want to get going with it (I’m impatient at times though). I’m just about to put in the arts council application for this. If I get the funding I’ll be doing the project from January-August next year.

The project, and I’ll try be brief, stemmed from my being surprised at the area being so social. You’d expect that living in a rural space, and choosing to do so would mean more isolation isolation. It’s more social than any urban space I’ve lived in, and the community aspect is so incredible, tight knit and funny! Though isolation is prevalent, it’s more in line with the way to communities and society is structured in this area, isolated from the urban spaces in that the society there is different, It’s difficult to explain without writing an essay, but that’s what the projects partly for!

Alius (title is a work in process) will be a lot of research work, workshopping, focus groups, hiking/walking, talking, building and ethnographic studies.

The first two months will be set as preliminary research and ensuring I have everything I need for the project. The following 4-5 Months will consist of the project/performance taking place, I have set the boundaries in which I cannot travel outside of (unless I need to go to hospital or something equally as extreme, there is a contract though), and the first week I’ll be marking physically the boundaries of space, it’s approximately 5/6 miles of space that I’m isolated in. The last month is for evaluation etc. By physically isolating myself, and with my close relationships towards the place and communities that live there, I feel I’ll be in an interesting position to really look at the way people identify with rural environments and form communities that differ so much from being in a more congested environment.

There are three social ‘spaces’ I’ll be focusing on, the inner and outer village, the arts space and the Gamekeeping.

I’m really excited about this project as it’s one I’ve been thinking about for YEARS, and finally got round to developing/doing. These types of projects take time as there are a lot of people involved, but I’m happy that I’ll hopefully be able to get going with it very soon.


5. Who, where or what has you feeling excited at the moment? Who, where or what has you feeling concerned at the moment?

I’m an overly enthusiastic person to be honest, so most things get me excited! This project, and in general the next few years have me feeling excited. I know I have lots to give and I’m keeping myself open to new experiences etc. The current state of the art world (and world in general), like for most people, has me feeling concerned. So much space is exclusive and full of internalised elitist bullshit, with little room for POC, women, queer and disabled artists. Things are beginning to change though and there are some super inspiring people around, just remember to call stuff out where you can.


6. In your bio it also says that through performance and installation you utilise humour as a tool to encourage criticality and increase accessibility in the arts, can you expand upon that? What do you think is the relationship between humour and criticality?

I think humour and criticality have a really important relationship.

Humour and wit is often put down as being unimportant or insignificant undervalued in serious conversations or situations, but when people take control of comedic value they harness the power to reinforce and/or disrupt cultural norms.

It offers people a new way of thinking about situations, pushes their perceptions and therefore develops a more critical way of thinking.

I've found in my personal situation, throughout my life, education and professional environments, whenever i felt out of my depth i would always turn to wit and humour to help me reach, understand or learn. Often this is seen as a coping mechanism, but with that comes negative connotations and it doesn't have to be negative if its helping someone understand, cope with or access things. So because of that, I try to allow humour to be more of a resource for people to harness (or encourage people to understand that humour can be this resource), within my practice.

In an ideal world it would be nice for humour to play a part in our education system, more formally. Teachers use wit and humour in the classroom to engage pupils and help them better understand their teachings, so why isn't this more formally recognised?

On that note, humour isn't necessarily accessible for everyone and this needs to be taken in to consideration too, but almost everyone will have their own type or form of humour and it’s being able to understand the levels and different languages to use in different situations in order to create a malleable educational tool.

Also laughter is great, makes people feel good about themselves and can increase the longevity of life hahaha.


7. Leading on from that, who or what is making you laugh (critically!) at the moment and why? (side note: we’d recommend a great Irish podcast called Mothers of Invention)

I mean it doesn't take much to make me laugh and it's interesting because even though I talk about using humour to think more critically I tend to be critical about things that I find humorous and use it in a different way with my own education. On that note I love watching talk shows and morning chat shows, I'm obsessed with games, sets and scripting of them, eg Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, Eric Andre, Lip Sync Battles, SNL and all the British Equivalents, that kind of thing.

There are lots of artists that I find funny, but memory is so shocking that i will most likely have forgot hundreds. Some off the top of my head are Rachel McLean, Rhona Foster, Cory Arcangel, Maurice Doherty.

Most recently I went to Tai Shani’s ‘Semiramis’, their work is incredible, so layered and enticing. Though I found it was full of quite dense text and is developed from Christine de Pizan’s 1405 proto-feminist text, the characters narratives that have been created were interwoven with feminist and queer theory, science fiction, sensation and was so great and allowing the audience to imagine a post-patriarchal future. Best of all the work got me to laugh and cry and listen to Beyoncé.

Maybe not the most accessible, with the density of the texts, but it was so layered and aesthetically pleasing with weird and mystical sculptural installations that it’s accessible in other ways.

In general, I listen to a lot of podcasts too, sex positive, feminist, general comedy ones mostly, and that’s exactly why I like them E.g Dan Savage – Savage Lovecast, The Guilty Feminist, No Such Thing as a Fish, Guys We Fucked…

THANKS FOR THE PODCAST RECOMMENDATION BTW, if anyone has more please message me.


8. Are there any books or authors that you find yourself coming back to time and time again, if so what are they and why?

The books that I keep reading and re-reading at the moment are mostly just relevant to me trying to be a better person hahaha. I recommend Chidera Eggerue’s ‘What a Time to be Alone’, very beautiful and has been helping a lot (follow her on instagram too @theslumflower)! Also Reni Eddo-Lodge’s ‘Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race’ if you haven’t already read it!

I’ve recently read The Power by Naomi Alderman a couple of time, which I bloody love, it’s like a reverse Handmaid’s Tale, matriarchal society 💖. These kind of books influence my practice naturally, as they influence my behaviour as a person.

Books that I refer to a lot for my practice though include a selection of obscure things, a fair bit of Samuel Beckett, Psychology Research Journals, a book called The Humour Journal (v good for looking at cross-culture use of humour) and Ha! The Science of why we laugh.

Again, If anyone has any recommendations, then slide on up in to my dm’s!


9. Congratulations on your solo show goRGE; your glitter addiction is destroying the environment. Tell us about the show!

My show goRGE was fun! Well it was supposed to be, I was mostly just questioning or fascination and need for glitter and shiny things, it was a 3 screen film and installation, with a ‘build you own glitter’ station. Turned out to be brutal though, with the character and writing delivery, funny and awkward.

The film took the form of a breaking news broadcast and took a ‘this is the history and why everything is horrific but here’s some comedy’ kind of narrative.


10. If funding and resources were no object, is there a particular work or project that you would like to realise?

I think I would just really enjoy being able to sustain my practice and allow myself the time to research, develop and maintain without having the constant financial pressure. That would be nice ay?

I’d definitely love to build some absolutely stunning (subjective use of the word stunning) and LARGE sets/installations, an in depth, very immersive look in to taste and senses. There would definitely be lots of fur and metallic fringing.

I love designing sets on SketchUp that are sort of 70’s-90’s style chat and game shows, so I would to build those IRL.

There are a couple of research and social projects I’d love to pursue, that delve a little more in to humour across cultures, so you’d most likely find me in Japan (Osaka and Akita) and China, and a few places in India also!

OH, I would also definitely own my own chain of art/karaoke bars with curated rooms built upon different themes, one of my bigger dreams!


Hope you enjoy my rantings 💖


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Raphaella Davies is an artist, producer and total babe based in Liverpool and Northumberland, UK. You can find them on insta @raphaelladavies and at www.raphaelladavies.com.