For April’s instalment of queeringborders, Xavier de Sousa and live artist Sebastian H-W go trainspotting from the comfort of Sebastian’s East End of London studio, right next to Stratford’s Olympics Stadium and the thoroughly imposing Westfield shopping centre.
The studio is right in the middle of council buildings and next to a railway, alongside which many private companies run their business and artists occupy old buildings that are no longer habitable. Somehow the surrounding area feels extremely cluttered but eerily quiet. The main point of distraction are the trains going by. We decide to allow the noise to fill the room and this interview, to interrupt us and make us pause. At times, this exercise becomes almost a wrestle against the noise and disruption; but mostly, it becomes complementary to the subject matter.
Stratford and the surrounding area is a particularly poignant setting, as Sebastian’s work straddles topics such as belonging, borders and that most white middle class phenomenon that a lot of artists find themselves in the middle of: gentrification. It’s an ever growing social event that has for decades enticed the artistic communities of London to move across the city in search of low studio rents and affordable housing, yet has had tremendous effects on the social-economic net of the city.
Throughout this chat, we explore identity, migration, relationship with our relatives and navigating a gentrified London through the prism of a self-defined British live artist of Mexican descent.
Sebastian H-W (MX:UK) is a Live Artist based between London and the West Midlands whose work explores identity, memory, technology, participation and the body, through cutting-edge approaches to creating live performances, audience experiences, action-based interventions and immersive installations. He has made work across a range of sites, spaces and places including grand theatres, white cubes, black-boxes, historic watchtowers, city streets, quiet canals, the palm of your hand, and deep inside your mind.
Sebastian is attending the IETM Porto Plenary Meeting as part of the British Council Theatre & Dance BAME panel of freelance artists this April 2018. He currently an artist in residence at Camden People’s Theatre programme ‘Starting Blocks’ developing a new work for their Sprint Festival 2018, and a GLYPT (Greenwich and Lewisham Youth People’s Theatre) Generator development programme for d/Deaf and disabled artists. Sebastian was a former founding member, performer and project coordinator of CLUSTER BOMB [collective], and curator/producer for their LAUNCH PAD showcase events of [collective] artists and allies (2009 – 2015).
Sebastian is an associate artist at ]performance s p a c e [, an ACME studio artist, studio technician for Alice Anderson and a performer for Geraldine Pilgrim Company and ZU UK among others. He has performed on both a national and international level including the V&A Museum, Artsadmin, Battersea Arts Centre, Chelsea Theatre, The Wellcome Collection, Camden People’s Theatre, Arnolfini Bristol, Tempting Failure Festival, Sarean Centro Cultural Bilbao (Spain) Meinblau Gallery and Gruntaler9 Berlin (Germany), Grace Exhibition Space NYC (USA) and UABJO Oaxaca (México).
He has been funded by Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, British Council in Mexico, Jerwood Charitable Commission among other public and private funded bodies. Sebastian received a First Class BA Honours in Performance Writing with Sound Practices from Dartington College of Arts and Falmouth University and an MA in Contemporary Performance Practices at University of East London.
Featured image credits: Sebastian H-W performing ‘Run City Run’ with CLUSTER BOMB [collective] part of the Nomadic Arts Festival ‘ Stroking the Pavement’ at Galleria 291 Est (Rome) Photo Credit: Rossella Della Vecchia