Olivia Norris

7th Feb 2019

Hi Liv, thanks so much for participating - we hope you’re enjoying the coffee!

Dear Oisín and Astrid, Thankyou so much for asking me (feel v lucky) and for the delicious coffee. I haven’t been drinking it recently so feeling jazzy.

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

Do you ever get that feeling when someone asks you about your practice and you’re like ‘I DONTT HAVEEE ONEEE’ and then you chill and you’re like oh yeah I do. My practice is between dance and movement based performance and ugly figurative paintings. My loves are drag queens, transgressive women, BODIES/ embodiment, baldness, tension, tongues and awkward movement.

2. What are you working on at the moment? Can you talk to us about your working processes, where do you source and how do you begin to choreograph your ideas?

I actually just finished a dance film at the end of last year called Sissy Fatigue. It was such an amazing/ hard project that feel like I need a bit of down time before the next thing. I am hoping to get it online soooon – so will share with you. The ideas for the film came from discovering the sensational music of Bully Fae Collins online and watching Sasha Velours lip synch final where she does a wig pull to Whitney’s ‘So Emotional’.

I guess my working process begins when something keeps coming into my head – whether it’s an image of a bald woman, a man frying eggs and crying or the words bread makes you fat! Then from there I’ll usually know whether it’s a painting/ title/ performance starting point. My painting process is pretty haphazard to be honest. I like to get it out as quickly as possible and clean it away, like being sick. I would like to be one of those calm artists that work very methodically – but perhaps they don’t really exist.

3. You shift between mediums, from performance to video to paint - is there a consistent narrative running through the works or do you find that that alters as you move from one to the other? Are certain ideas more easily explored in certain mediums?

I don’t really think of performance and film being that different. Obviously the outcome is but the things I want to film are also the things I want to perform. I think performance is more generous and exciting in a way but you can have a lot more control in the film which feels nice to really know what people are seeing/ reading (plus it has a longer lifetime). Yes I think the themes/ narratives are very similar in my performance to my painting but the painting medium draws it into something more immediate and simplified.

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

Good question – I like asking people this. Erm. I was very excited by finally finishing and screening the film Sissy Fatigue alongside some other beautiful artists films. Bully Fae came over from LA and performed their album 'Defy a thing to be’ after the film was screened. I was so excited/ nervous/ overwhelmed I couldn’t really talk to anyone. Me and Bully hung out the rest of the week and had a silly/ lush time – it was the perfect way to end it all.

6. You work collaboratively a lot, do you draw a significant distinction between this and your own practice or do you see it all as one big party?

Haha, I love ‘it’s all one big party’ maybe this is the next painting title! I love collaborating, and exploring the space in between people and working to get rid of ego is exciting/ cool but I think we all need lots of solo time too.

7. Leading on from that, how do you describe your role within a collaborative working group such as STASIS?

It’s hard to describe our roles as we don’t really talk that much about them we just get on with making. Aniela is definitely the powerful engine and Paloma is mother of all things costume related. Me and Isobel bring our own unique things and we all enable each other to do things we are scared/ excited by – being louder, weirder and uglier.

8. Are there any books or authors that you find yourself coming back to time and time again?

MIRANDA JULY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9. You spent some time in Vietnam and exhibited there, can you tell us a little about that experience?

I did! I was super lucky to stay with legend friend Lily Pugh who put me in touch with Nu who ran Chaosdowntown, a queer art space/ hostel. It felt like the easiest/ most natural way of having an exhibition. I simply asked and they said yes. (probably because Lily had put the groundwork in for me – thanks babe). I ended up showing some paintings and a sound piece where I got people to lie in a bed next to me whilst they were listening to it. I was really interested in vulnerability/ intimacy at that point and thought the bed was a great place to explore this. But, in reality I think I made quite a few people uncomfortable by not knowing if I was going to jump out at them at some point.

The craziest part of the trip was learning about how censored art/ literature/ news is in Vietnam. Art which does not portray the communist party and its leaders favourably is censored, together with works containing nudity and sexuality. And all art exhibitions are required to have an official permit from the ministry of culture. As you can imagine the people running Chaosdowntown were pretty rad and it felt super humbling to be welcomed by them.

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

That is a good question. I feel like I have got so used to working with so little that I forget to dream big sometimes. I would like to choreograph a huge flashmob with like a hundred people. I would love to do a world tour with Stasis and I would love to work with the filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos – I just love his films!

the letter U is the dirtiest key on my keyboard


Olivia Norris is a dance and visual artist based in London. You can find her at www.olivianorris.com and on instagram: @o.k.norris