The fragility of life and the inevitability of death, all in a day’s work with Jeanne Mordoj in residency at Hackney City Farm.
The hens, cockerels and chicks at Hackney City Farm were being closely observed in August, not just by children and families in the final weeks of their holiday, but by the French theatre artist Jeanne Mordoj and her academic collaborator Tom Gould from Kings College.
She, still fascinated by all things with a yolk, discovered new ways of working with farm-found feathers and the honey made from Hackney bees along with other vital farm materials. He, continuing to investigate the world of Samuel Beckett in relation to eggs as part of his PHD, entered in Jeanne’s playful world where body and object transform themselves into something unexpected.
Inspired by the essential elements of the world that surround the farm (mud and rain as a textural medium, the heaving hairy surface of the Tamworth pigs’ chests, and the many human characteristics of a chicken – some grumpy, others forgetful or brooding), they developed a rare collaboration between academic and artist. His scholastic approach informed her creative practice enabling her to think deeper. Likewise, her manipulation of objects illuminated for him the legacy of Beckett in a physical way. One of the aims of this collaboration is to explore the way in which artistic and academic interest can enter into dialogue, she expresses ideas through performance and arts, whereas he does so through conceptualisation and language.
This was the first time that the farm has hosted a resident artist. They generously welcomed Jeanne and Tom into their yards and let them turn their education classroom into a studio for 10 days.
The Southbank’s Purcell Room was also used by Jeanne earlier in August as a 4 day wall based residency while she developed the huge drawings that feature in the second version of La Poème, Grand Format.
Jeanne is an Associate Artist at Crying Out Loud. These residencies are part of her ongoing development of a new piece which will be premiered in 2016/17.
Many thanks to Hackney City Farm and the Southbank for use of their spaces, to Ben Steele for his photography and film, and to KCI and the Institut français for the financial support.
Rachel Clare, Artistic Director, Crying Out Loud