Bold Tendencies and the Summer of Love

Bold Tendencies and the Summer of Love

Artist Paloma Proudfoot speaks to us about her solo and collaborative practice and commissioned artwork for Bold Tendencies 2022.

Artist Paloma Proudfoot speaks to us about her solo and collaborative practice and commissioned artwork for Bold Tendencies 2022.

Paloma Proudfoot, Grief is recognised as a friend (detail), 2022. Photo: Deniz Guzel. © Bold Tendencies. 

Phillips is proud to partner with Bold Tendencies, a not-for-profit organization which supports developing artists and helps them realize site-specific projects and live performances from what may very well be the coolest art space in London: the rooftop of a former Sainsbury’s car park in Peckham. Founded in 2007, Bold Tendencies has for fifteen years now transformed the site into an inclusive and expansive space that welcomes artists and the community to experience award-winning programs ranging from educational series to concerts, dances, immersive visual art exhibits, and much more.

On view now through 17 September is Love, a summer-long program featuring works by Martin Creed, Rhea Dillon, Nan Goldin, Paloma Proudfoot, Dominique White and Gray Wielebinski. We caught up with Paloma Proudfoot, whose commissioned artwork engages with the season’s theme of “speculating on the future of love, care and intimacy and asking what love looks and feels like in the 21st century,” and whose work demonstrates Bold Tendencies' ongoing mission to encourage bold collaboration and expressive use of public spaces. 

Paloma Proudfoot with the present work. 

PHILLIPS: Tell us a bit about your work in the Bold Tendencies exhibition.

PALOMA PROUDFOOT: The structure is based on a mediaeval transi tomb: a two-level structure that presents the effigy of the deceased as if asleep on its upper bier, and below, as their imagined decomposing corpse. In my own experience of seeing a dead body, I found that my attention to simple activities of eating, breathing and moving suddenly sharpened. The stillness of the body accentuated even the smallest motion, a chill of a breeze through the window or belly gurgle. By abstracting the living figures to emphasise mechanical qualities — such as with pipes and wire work, almost like a switch board or plumbing network — I wanted to convey that acknowledging the presence of death can enhance wonder in the mostly unnoticed internal choreography of the body at work. The symbiotic relationship between individuals - both living and dead - is conveyed in the fiery glazes of the living that merge into one another and flow towards the entwined dead figures below.

The title for the piece, Grief is recognised as a friend, is inspired by an eponymous drawing by German expressionist Käthe Kollwitz. This title prompted me to think about what grief might look like if it was represented as a friend, acknowledged as an expression of love and allowed time for. In contemporary society, the slow and unending process of grief is at odds with the late capitalist emphasis on productivity and work, and so it is convenient to present grief as something to be feared and pushed to the side. I hope my piece might encourage contemplation of the generative potential of grief.

P: How does collaboration factor into your practice?

PP: I have an ongoing collaboration with choreographer Aniela Piasecka, with whom I am also part of a collaborative performance group called Stasis. I also collaborate with Lindsey Mendick as the artist-duo PROUDICK, as well as a number of other one-off collaborations. My sculpture practice explores the body and my background in clothes making, so these different threads allow me to connect these elements in a more explicit and live context through costume-making, performance and installation. My collaborators offer me a perspective outside of my own experience and question my assumed methods of making things, which encourages me to push myself more in my solo work too. They have skills in different mediums and knowledge, which I find exciting to learn from. I find so much satisfaction in working with people with a different perspective or background; and finding a meeting point in the middle, however tough it might be. Outside of the work, and most importantly, they are all my friends and have offered a huge amount of support and much needed pep talks. I am very lucky!

Paloma Proudfoot, Grief is recognised as a friend (detail), 2022. Photo: Deniz Guzel. © Bold Tendencies.

P: Do you find that the intimate nature of your work  particularly the exploration of the human body and desire — takes on new dimensions in the context of a public exhibition?

PP: Yes, definitely. While this is my first outdoor commission, I am familiar with being sensitive to how work changes in a public context from my performance work with Stasis, so it was exciting to think how these factors would shape my sculptural work. This challenge of bridging the intimate and the public is partly why I was drawn to using the structure of the mediaeval transi tombs. They are simultaneously particular to the person they memorialise but are also intended for public display and to convey a more general memento mori. My work looks to bridge these two worlds of personal experience and intimacy with a more open proposition about how we might encounter and communicate grief differently, especially if we lift the taboo surrounding talking about death. I hope this provides the viewer with space to contemplate how these ideas might relate to their own experience.

Paloma Proudfoot, Grief is recognised as a friend (detail), 2022. Photo: Deniz Guzel. © Bold Tendencies.

P: How have you seen your work develop in the last few years?

PP: I like to think of my work developing in more of a cyclical than straightforward manner. I notice myself coming back to similar themes or topics but (hopefully!) incorporating new skills, ideas and personal experiences with each cycle that give these on-going interests new meaning or insight. More specifically, l'm excited about developing and getting more confident in my drawing, which has been laying the foundation for more ambitious ceramic compositions and narrative works, including my commission for Bold Tendencies and a large-scale ceramic frieze for the exhibition, off the beaten rack, which runs until I8 September at Kunst im Tunnel in Düsseldorf.

P: What's next for you?

PP: I will participate in a residency run by Ainalyan Space in Meteora, a magical looking rock formation and pilgrimage site in Central Greece. The residency will result in an exhibition at the Museum of Geological Formations of Meteora. Later in the year, I will be exhibiting in Peckham again with a solo show at Bosse & Baum.



Discover More from Bold Tendencies > 

Discover More from Paloma Proudfoot >


Recommended Reading

In Conversation with Bold Tendencies' Hannah Barry >

The Art Lover's Guide to Rio de Janeiro >