5 Questions with Leah Clements

Operating a multi-disciplinary practice that incorporates video, performance, installation and constructed encounters, Leah Clements addresses the role of the audience within contemporary art, hunting for underlying power structures within small gestures. The young Londoner has recently opened her first solo show at VITRINE Bermondsey Square, that switches between activated and deactivated states, which are reliant upon external factors. 

How would you describe the environment that you have created for You Promised me Poems?

It’s concerned with the aesthetics of intimacy, and also an evasion of that intimacy, as most of it is only accessible at times.

How does the exhibition switch between an activated and deactivated state — are most visitors likely to experience just one or the other?

The main work is activated when the window becomes filled with condensation. This only happens every so often, so you will probably only see it full or clear — but it is possible to see it transitioning. I hope some people leave with a sense of disappointment and others a sense of belonging to something exclusive, with one experience allowing the other.

How do you balance the physical and non-physical within your work?

I don’t know if I’d separate them. The performance at the private view for example was a person talking about pain*, but now that exists as an audio file where that body is no longer present, although it is in the sense that it’s being spoken about. Also, there are speakers installed in the space – they’re going to have a visual effect as objects too.

Do you think the art world is more open to interdisciplinary practices now than in previous years? 

In some ways there is still resistance to these practises, in many art schools in the UK for example students still have to specialise in one pathway, but there are a lot of places springing up where this is more open, and I feel that where event based work has perhaps in the past been more likely to exist as supplementary material it is maybe now being given a bit more room.

What can you tell us about your performance on 22 August?

As with the rest of the show, it’s interested in intimacy, specialness and disappointment. There will be a personality test for viewers to take on an iPad or on their phones, which only I will see the answers for, then what happens next for each person depends on their answers. It will involve Bermondsey Square Hotel…that’s about all I can say!

*Performance carried out by Barbara Monteiro from an interview with Susana Monteiro

You Promised Me Poems is showing at VITRINE Bermondsey Square until 30 August 2015. There will be a performance at Bermondsey Square and Bermondsey Square Hotel on Sunday 22nd August 2015.