Every Wednesday around midday, we receive a talk from an artist. This week, we were greeted by Liv Wynter
…a queer working class female artist working and living in South London. Through her anarchic and punk exploration of language, rap and poetry, Liv uses sharp wit and home truths teamed with uncompromising honesty to create discussions around class, sexuality, gender, recovery from violent relationships and rebuilding yourself post trauma. Liv’s work is socially and politically demanding, and her practice sets her apart from others using text based work due its relentless and unapologetic demand to be acknowledged. Liv’s ability to wear her heart on her sleeve and leave her metaphors at the door means her work is extremely accessible. This allows her to move from established art institutions to youth clubs, community centres, to protests with ease but also raw conviction. Liv uses emotive language without fear and embraces ideas of hysteria as a subversive way to tackle capitalist and patriarchal ideas of how women should behave.
Liv’s driving force is creating community and using art practice to empower and energise marginalised groups, particularly young working class people and people dealing with trauma surrounding sexual violence. Her practice takes on any forms, and although it is rooted in performance, she considers skill sharing and workshops to be a vital part of ensuring the performances have a long lasting and progressive after effect. Her work is as ,uch about the communities that amalgamate together around it as the actual thing – be it a poem, a workshop or a political occupation. Due to outreach being such an important part of Liv’s work, she is often trying to question how we can bring into the gallery those that feel excluded from it. Liv believes the gallery should be an active community space. Liv’s involvement with political organisations and voluntary community projects further demonstrate her dedication to making sure she is putting into practice the things she preaches.
Source: Information email received before the lecture
(Apologies if this is a little ‘bitty’ – it was sometimes difficult to take the most important notes as there was so much that she said, that I felt I needed to write!)
Liv graduated with a BA in Fine Art, last year from Goldsmiths, and only started to begin writing in the second term of year 3 (so only just over a year ago). Before this, she was doing fabrics, but quickly turned to the alter ego of a rapper. Liv sold empty CD cases, fake shirts and advertised gigs that weren’t happening. Going into year three, on top of this she had a 50 hour job in order to support herself. However, she also had her escape of writing, and writing, and writing, wherever and whenever she could – even on the bus.
Liv felt, and still feels now, that her purpose is to go into spaces that everyone is accountable of. This happened with ‘Don’t Flop’, a very racist and sexist environment (Pedro vs Liv Wynter Don’t Flop Rap Battle). It is a very tense battle (Please watch!) and Pedro attacks Liv for being, well, female, and Liv throws this back in his face – along with a lot of weed.
She is also a survivor of domestic violence, something that comes across in a lot of her work, including Rated R and Body Apologies. She uses aggressive vulnerabilities in her work for her points to come across clearer and stronger. She has also been inspired by ‘He chose stars…’ (I think?) and read this in relation to her body and her. The point she made about this was that on YouTube, she never uploaded a video of herself and yet there is 3,470 results when you search up her name.
This was a series of one-to-one performances over Skype, every night for a month. (Again, I think) It is a story about seeing someone in a pub and not being able to leave. This was 31 shows with 4 people that she knew, then other from around the world, from LA to London. Only these people and Liv Wynter have heard ‘Head Fuck’, as she did the whole campaign on her own. It was performed everywhere and anywhere, in all manners of states, including in a toilet, or while being drunk. She did it in exchange for money, artwork and someone even bought her dinner. The whole idea toys with the idea of being untraceable after being all over the internet. Only the tumblr website now exists.
With the Royal Academy, she hated the show they put on (New Contemporaries) and what it stood for – you have to be part of the show in order to continue into the arts and be ‘great’ in the art community. Liv “ended up in a load of bullshit” doing things she didn’t want to do. She just wanted the YEAH moment. To fight back against the Royal Academy show, she travelled to Liverpool and did a group of shows with the theme of ‘How Much Are They Paying You’. This was free workshops and shows to fight back against the New Contemporaries as you had to pay to get in there and the Royal Academy would give you no money to stay, or travel in London to stay with the exhibition. She agreed that any student who signed up to the New Contemporaries and didn’t get in, could perform at her show and get refunded the £25 ‘membership’ sign up fee.
Liv has been motivated to actively use her work to build a community, and this has carried on where she has set this up. They still meet every Sunday and have an open warehouse for everyone.
She has also worked with Sisters Uncut and opened up a workhouse for women who needed a bed for the night. There are 1000+ empty buildings in (South East) London but there are only 26 beds for women seeking them at night.
Whereisanamendieta. This is a movement that Liv Wynter was involved in. She was in a fight with her husband and he threw her out of the window to her death. Her artwork was used against her in the trial to show that she was mentally unstable. Liv, along with many other women, protested when the new building of the Tate Modern opened, where some of her artwork is being held, and often displayed.
Liv often does workshops to re-perform her work and to ‘get it out there’ again.
She is currently trying to write this ‘thing’ about apathy. It is an argument about who has access to some of the things that are fundamentally provided. Movements and organisations come together to say how they’re good but also how they’ve fucked up – not everyone is perfect. She is organising another one at Goldsmiths about Black Lives Matter.
Liv has also worked with Kate Nash in Girls Rock London, however she is finding more often now that her performances are quite shocking, especially to the young audience. This has not stopped her from working with young people, but she is now re-evaluating what performances she does in front of them.
A few little random last bits of information; She is not writing as much as she would like, but would like to do a 6 month residency (she came straight out of Goldsmiths to this and hasn’t had time to process it all). You makes things that you can’t own or buy – her work only exists online or when she’s in the room. Professional work or personal work in university is hard but it can be done. Normally in art school, people are discouraged to make personal work – fuck it – if that’s what you love and that’s what you care about, push it. Very, very, very political.
Source: Handouts from Liv Wynter