Myths create magical art performance at The Gallery DMU

The story of a mythical Leicester community has been unveiled as part of a series showcasing the work of some of the most exciting British performance artists.

The Gallery at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is one of just four UK venues to be hosting work by British artists as part of the fig-futures programme. Every week throughout November, a different artist takes over the space creating a new show which is open to the public for the rest of the week.

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Nothing Human is Strange to Me is artist Ben Judd’s collaborative work which tells the story of a mythical ancient Leicester tribe through music, dance, stories and costume using singers and performers to play the community. Themes of belonging, community and customs were intertwined and explored.

The Gallery was transformed for the piece, which drew a packed crowd to the preview night on Monday. It will be open to the public free from today until Saturday from 12noon to 5pm.

Visitors will be able to watch a recording of the performance, see the costumes and artefacts – borrowed from Leicester Museums - which suggest finds from an archaeological dig to uncover this community. Pick up headphones and listen to author Rod Duncan tell stories of the tribe on this site.

Ben recruited fashion designer and part-time lecturer Jo Cope and writer and part-time lecturer Rod Duncan to be part of the team working on the project.

Rod, a published author known for his fantasy writing, created a whole history of the tribe. He said: “This has been a really fascinating project. I do a lot of what you call world-building, I create imaginary peoples, imaginary societies and that perfectly dovetailed with what Ben was looking for.

“Tonight was the first time I had seen the production and it was really moving, strangely moving to watch. It starts so gently and leads you in.”

FF ben and jo small

Jo Cope, who is a conceptual fashion artist, said she took her inspiration for the clothes from handmade, primitive crafts. She said: “A lot of the garments have a real handmade feel, there’s a simplicity to them because I wanted people to imagine that this tribe had actually made them.  

“It’s been hectic but really exciting to be involved.”

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Ben said the inspiration for the piece had come from his previous work around communities. He said: “In my practice, I’m really interested in communities, and connections and how people form groups in different ways.

“It came out of a lot of intensive research. I came up to Leicester a lot, I spent time in the city, and it is also a direct response to the site. I’m interested in using the space at The Gallery to its full potential, thinking about different ways the performers and audience can move through the space.”

Works by each exhibiting artist will also be gifted to DMU’s permanent collection so they can be enjoyed by art lovers for many years.

Supported by Arts Council England, Art Fund and Outset with six partnering institutions and public collections in the UK, fig-futures presents 16 fig-2 alumni artists outside London.

Posted on Tuesday 13th November 2018

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