Frame 61

Leila Ziu

Frame 61
Leila Ziu

"These interactions celebrate the human in the tangible world. I enjoy working with the gesture of the body exploring how it navigates the space around it."


Your video performances consist of interaction/improvisation with objects, could you tell us about these performances and the meaning behind them?

The recurring theme in my work is participation; staging myself in the work to seek a more direct experience and physically be a part of it. Not separating artist and artwork.

The work takes influence from:

Not needing permission or a lucrative application to fulfil the work and act of making.

Indulging in the tension between the search for meaning and the meaninglessness that arises.

Challenging my human absurdity to control and perfect; seeking and embracing when clarity emerges from chaos and confusion.

Communication of the human spirit, intuition and conditioning.

Failure of the human to deliver and be the ‘best’

Preciousness and obsessions of art making.

These interactions celebrate the human in the tangible world. I enjoy working with the gesture of the body exploring how it navigates the space around it.

I use a set of tools to explore and communicate - immediacy, interaction, improvisation, embodiment, intuition and sometimes sound. Working with improvisation reduces the endless possibilities. I find I am less satisfied when I have more choice; the more individual options the more possible it is to regret and imagine the alternatives.

So I film interactions that explore possibilities in a sequence form; a continuous unedited piece. They usually commence in an arbitrary manner letting the physicality and my interpretations guide me. Sometimes the actions do become senseless, useless and other times we are in harmony but I want to show it all.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you been a practising artist and where did you study?

I studied my BA in Graphic Design at Manchester School of Art. Like many others I felt confused as to whether I was more an artist or designer – communication is key in my work and thinking but my ideas seemed to work better when I had my own reasons to play.

I spent some time questioning the privilege of being an artist and it’s purpose/role in the world – I was brought up in London by a Spanish mother and Libyan father; my father was very politically active in regards to the situation in Libya at the time. Early experiences opened my eyes to some harsh ‘real life’ conditions that people were going through. And then there was me, a young British girl wanting to be an artist and make artwork in these current times – I celebrate this freedom but also feel confused and struggle with it.

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

Currently I am able to spend 3-4 days a week on my work. The rest of the week goes to putting money in the bank. Establishing this balance and keeping the two separate is quite important for me at this moment in time.

I have a studio desk space where I edit videos etc. but my ideas and thoughts seem to come when I’m on the go. For the shooting part I either have an idea in mind that I wish to explore so borrow a studio space or, a location will inspire the work taking a guerilla filmmaking style approach – like recently driving through the Pyrenees mountains in France and pulling over when I saw a location that sparked something.

A chair, a plinth and a cardboard box. Video studies 01

Red: Video studies 04

Do you prefer to perform in front of a live audience or do you like displaying your work via projection/screen? And how do you think this changes the work?

The context and history of the screen is so rich in its depth of communication – there are so many elements to play with to manipulate the message and how it is perceived.

Sometimes the work takes influence from this screen culture. Recent video work with artist and performer Maëva Berthelot explores this. Finding film sets in the ordinary and shooting performative to camera improvisations exploring images fed from showbiz, pop culture, advertising, music videos, the female image on screen and allowing them to take over momentarily.

The method of the work means there is always an element of live performance, however it is usually delivered to the camera (and some passers by). I have only participated in one live performance in a gallery space, ‘Vacuum’ a four-hour improvisation with sculptural garments by Nadine Shaban.

I am very interested in developing live performance works that seek a more direct experience with the viewer and with myself. Something I hope to develop further this year.

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

Recently I went to see Voodoo by Project O, a collaborative project between dancers/choreographers Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamila Johnson-Small at Sadler’s Wells.

The two performers had a sense of stature about them but felt like two beautiful tragedies, of which I felt a responsibility in causing somehow. There was an attitude that refused to give us (the audience) what we wanted and made us question our perception right from the start. They had a story they wished to tell us but we needed to participate and share a collective experience in order to access it.

Aggressive, moody, disrupting, futuristic, a communication of the invisible, it left me feeling quite uncomfortable and lingered for a few days… I have a lot of respect for the work.

Hands: Video Studies 02

Black: Video Studies 01

How do you go about naming your work?

Usually by the month and year it was made.

By the prominent colour or materials used…

When collaborating ‘Locations with…’

It’s always quite factual I guess.

The work is temporary and only truly exists when being made, captured as a study through the lens.

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

I aim to keep developing and exploring new ways of working.

I really enjoy collaborating and inviting others to participate in the work to celebrate and enjoy the making process together – I would like to work more with artists, non-artists, movers, makers, musicians, friends, mums, shop-keepers, Uber drivers etc.

All images courtesy of the artist
Publish date 01/08/2017