SPINACH AND EGGS: LIVE ZOOM PERFORMANCE (2021)

‘Smash the fads, rip the mags, and break out those daddy bellies! ' OUTSTREAM FILM FESTIVAL

‘Gatekeeping of the stereotypes that exist within the LGBT community in terms how films dealing with LGBT representation show how queer people are meant to be/perform/behave/label themselves and put themselves in a box’

‘We want to make people think and Lee’s films do just that. He provides a unique perspective and even though his films aren’t explicit, they make you think about the body and about queer sexuality and about how society manipulates our perspective on both. Most of our customers are students and academics who want to learn more about the body, sexuality and society. We also have people who have never thought about different methods of sexual expression. We provide them with different depictions of the body and sexuality, both for education and artistic enjoyment. And Lee does it in such an artistic way!’ Adrineh, Arthouse Vienna

'We loved the themes running through your poem touching on masculinity and the self-discovery of sexuality.. We loved the pieces when we viewed them and their ability to tackle issues faced in the gay community. We feel that many of our readers will find these works relatable and hopefully, this can open up a dialogue to challenge body shaming and other issues in our community.’ Queerlings

‘If you want to get sold'. Oof heavy, love it’

'Very bruising, the scene is a foreign country, they do things differently there... this is brilliant Lee'

‘Love the sunglasses –pirates! – ‘include exclude’ is very sinister – barrier-like faces with their sunglasses’

'Interesting reflective critique as gay male art. Genius'

‘Intercreative with history.. love the resistance too- the energy of the 90s ‘

‘Wow, Lee. Vulnerability exported there. Fatphobia is insidious’

‘Feeling the gut punch. Sharp audio/images/language’

Man you’re on fire!!! (Quite literally in places 🔥) You’re literally taking the lecture performance to a whole new level! I love the bravery and honesty and the whole looking/eye thing - your power with it, it’s power over individuals (as in its all about how we look). You’re also a bloody good poet!!

I watched your performance at 5 last night via the link you sent, enjoyed it, intense and uncomfortable at times. That pub was my regular haunt in the mid 80s. My experience of "the community" is playing The Invisible Man these days.’

I enjoyed the mixture of the poetic imagery and the juxtaposition in the anger of the voice The anger pierced the imagery. I was thinking about rhyming slang where the meaning is underneath, if you see what I mean

‘Very intense/emotional/angry performance’

I love that you do writing which isn't delivered in poetry voice (which always feels kind of devotional and romantic to me, and sometimes it is not the time for devotion and romance, but angry and fucked-up-ness), anger, weirdness, play.’

‘I lived in Chelsea NYC in the 90s which was an epicentre of that kind of gay vanity. There was a lot of conversation about the Chelsea boy mentality that came up in your performance Lee’

SUMMARY:

Innovating the possibilities of media re-use, feeding-back and looping round of text, and the layering of the voices, my re-plugging the films into Zoom generated repeated multi-layered multimedia sociocreative live Zoom performances as colourful, immersive, textured, organic and disorienting montages of young queer experience told through my own personal autobiography.

As Deborah Findlater has suggested, ‘For many marginalised people, the gaze comes with a set of difficulties and issues. Bodies judged, watched, surveilled and projected on.’ Many gay men go to great lengths to achieve one and to achieve a certain overall body type. I am never going to fit into (gay) society’s ideals in terms of body image. Becoming more and more increasingly aware as a gay man of ideals of body image that the gay male community puts on itself (FIT, FAT, FIT, FAT, FIT, FAT).

Reminiscent of early guerrilla protest video art from the 1980s, SPINACH AND EGGS employs protest art, of modes of representation /chanting (NO BODY SHAME, NO BODY SHAME) within ACT UP and queer movements, of political campaign, including my own drawings of my own body,, and visual techniques used throughout Marlon Riggs' VOICES UNITED (1989). The narrative poetry highlights identity labelling and stereotyping within the gay male community, a subculture that can be very elitist and ends up reproducing the violence that it claims to be escaping.

The imagery that you can see on screen are part of my personal archive of artworks (paintings/photographs/short films/drawings etc.) as an artist from the last 25 years. SPINACH AND EGGS was made with sound and moving image recordings I made on a Sony Ericsson Cybershoot K800i mobile phone between 2005-2006, magazine imagery and photographic stills and moving image recordings made between 2011-2019 on various iPhones including performance for camera. As well as pencil drawings that I made of my body/ self-portraits in 2019. There is so much humour in this work to critique and at times parody, for example, the line, ‘Mr Spinach and Eggs, stick your rules and regs in the hole at the back of the top of my legs!’ Using humour to address really complex issues here related to mental health because of increasing body image demands in the gay community and within society at large. I am the performer. A shadow of my disembodied fist performing moving up and down repeatedly; the fist is the spoken language of violence, of my anger/frustration.

As artist Clunie Reid commented upon this work: ‘What is brilliant in the work is that Lee is troubled about it, that gay culture is not straight forward. The drawings with the irony create a kind of troubledness about gay culture and discloses (Lee's) personal relationship to it’

The spaces that young queer people are creating for themselves are animated by a constant sense of self-policing, saying the right thing, being politically correct, body image ideals; feeling quite oppressed themselves. The gay male community is very controlling about what you should look like and how you should behave - why is that community stereotyping themselves? A niched community that is then even more niched. Certain subsets of gay subculture promote themselves as generating inclusive spaces whilst containing aspects that discriminate. Disenchanted with the antagonisms in the gay male community particularly towards labelling (giving gay men an identity such as ‘cub’. ‘bear’ etc.) and body shaming, my recent film, poetry and performance work seeks to bring about re-enchantment with the community I am part of as a gay man but at times which I feel excluded from.

SPINACH AND EGGS reflects on the kinds of role gay men are expected to conform to, where identity becomes something detached or external and how they can fit into that. It explores the idea of being codified by a set of occularcentric taxonomic principles that are meant to determine who you are as a person and how you function in a relationship.

Inspired by my experience of being amongst ‘cubs’ and ‘bears’ in the Kings Arms pub in London, this performance is in actual fact a ‘two fingers up’ to body shaming and labels by saying clearly: ‘Accept me or f*ck off!’. What function does stereotyping or strict boundaries to certain kinds of labels serve? Maybe it’s about being seen. If I can say that I am ‘this’ very definite thing. I can be seen through this kind of role whereas otherwise… We always think there’s a certain kind of playfulness with these roles, but its boundaries are policed so rigidly. SPINACH AND EGGS uses gay slang ‘bear, cub' and addresses power relations in queer subcultures and particularly within queer male spaces of conviviality which engage in processes of inclusion and exclusion.

SPINACH AND EGGS is not just intended for queer men, it is a call for action for all men, regardless of their identity and sexuality. All men, are under so much pressure to have the ‘body beautiful’ made famous in classical Renaissance art. These ideals are not real. They are made up and dictates that that every man aspires to them.

  • Lee Campbell
    Director
  • Project Type:
    Performance
  • Completion Date:
    February 14, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Darkroom Festival
    London
    United Kingdom
    September 26, 2021
    Official Selection
  • FilmPride
    Brighton
    United Kingdom
    September 1, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Gilbert Baker Film Festival

    December 4, 2021
    Official Selection
  • World Cinema Carnival

    January 28, 2022
    Official Selection
  • The Interrupters Presents: SISSSY FILM- ART- LIVE
    London
    December 16, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Queerbee LGBT Film Festival

    February 4, 2022
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Lee Campbell

Dr Lee Campbell is an artist, poet experimental filmmaker, writer, Senior Lecturer at University of the Arts London, curator of regular performance poetry night POW? Play on Words in South London and founder of Homo Humour, the first of its kind project on contemporary queer male film and moving image practices that explore humour and LGBTQ+ storytelling. His experimental performance poetry films have been selected for many international film festivals since 2019 including Queerbee LGBT Film Festival, The Gilbert Baker Film Festival, Kansas 2020 and 2021, HOMOGRAPHY, Brussels and STATES OF DESIRE: Tom of Finland in the Queer Imagination, Casa de Duende, Philadelphia, USA, 2020 WICKED QUEER 2021, Boston, USA, FilmPride - Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQ+ film festival, Brighton, UK, Splice Film Festival 2021, Brooklyn, USA and Darkroom Festival, London.
 
In 2022, Lee’s films have screened/will screen at prestigious events/festivals including REELpoetry/HoustonTX, Houston, USA, Living with Buildings II, Coventry, UK, Beyond Words curated by Gabriel Sosa, Fountain Street Gallery, Boston USA, Micromania Film Festival ,The Football Art Prize, UK-touring exhibition to Touchstones Rochdale, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Scream Queer Film Festival, Rome, Italy, Splice Film Festival 2022, Brooklyn, USA, TRANÅS AT THE FRINGE - International Screening of Experimental Films and Videopoems, Sweden, Post Pxrn Film Festival, Warsaw, Poland and FILM.ART Festival, Innsbruck, Austria. He has a solo exhibition of his poetry films, See Me, in July 2022 at Fountain Street Gallery, Boston, USA.
 
Lee has been interviewed numerously about his current film/performance work including interviews on BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey with Kathy Caton for Out with Kathy, KMTV (local Kent-based TV station) interview feature about Bona Polari! solo exhibition, Daniel Hess for To Tony Productions, Tim Kirk, Matt Skallerud for I Love Gay Today/Pink Media LGBT, Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With – Lee Campbell (March 2021) BBC Radio Kent- Interview with Dominic King for The Dominic King Show January 2021. His film work has received critical acclaim with recent review features of his film work by Francesca de Luca in Cut Frame Magazine and James Clark in Lost Creatives.
 
His live Zoom poetry performances have been showcased at events including Disturbance#2, Ugly Duck, London, Theatre Deli, London Festival ECRÃ Edition 5, Rio de Janeiro, the Immersive Storytelling Symposium, Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham and Rise Up! Reconnect. Rebuild. Recreate 10th International Digital Storytelling Conference, Loughborough University. In October 2021, Lee headlined Forum+ Incite! Lee currently performs regularly at poetry events across London including Poetry Shack, Mind Over Matter, Poetry LGBT, The Word Zoo, Mother Wolf Club, Gob Jaw and Paper Tiger Poetry where he won Best Poem of the Night (September 2021). Lee presented a one hour solo poetry performance at Brighton Fringe 2022 in 2022. Lee was one of the invited performance poets for Bold Queer Poetry Soirée, Above the Stag Theatre, London in June 2022.
 
His poem ‘Clever at Seeing without being Seen’ was recorded for Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK. Publications of his poetry include The Atticus Review, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Untitled. Voices, Gob Jaw Anthology 2019-2022, Issue Two: Wasteland, Powders Press, Issue One: First Times, Powders Press, Otherwise, You Are Here - The Journal of Creative Geography and Queerlings – A Literary Magazine for Queer Writing.
 
Lee has a long history of curating performance and fine art exhibitions internationally. For example, between 2005-2008, he curated All for Show, an internationally touring film showreel of emerging and established British moving image artists whose work exposed the banalities of everyday life through humour, self-introspection, and serious play. In 2020, Lee curated Radical Ventriloquism at Kelder, London. His most recent curation is Homo Humour which this year has screened at Metal, Southend-on-Sea, Open Eyen Liverpool and FRISE, Hamburg, Germany. Lee runs a regular monthly experimental poetry /spoken word night, POW! Play on Words, at The Bridge House Theatre in South London where he is currently curatorial poet in residence. In January 2021, he curated a set of queer poetry evenings for BBC Radio.

RECENT SELECTED AWARDS:
2021 Honorable Mention, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2021 Best Psychedelic Fantasy film winner for 'See Me' (2020), Retro Avant Garde Film Festival NYC 
2021 Semi-Finalist, Serbest International Film Festival 2021
2021 Honorable Mention, Splice Film Festival, New York
2021 Nominee for Best Original Concept and Best Atmosphere Independent Horror Movie Awards 2021
2021 Honorable Mention Award for 'See Me' (2020), Screener Short Films 
2021 Best Kent Film nominee for ‘Peer’ (2020), Margate Bookie Film Festival
2021 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2020 Semi-Finalist (3rd place winner), Splice Film Festival, New York
2019 Special Mention Award, London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Collage is such a tired word. SPINACH AND EGGS proposes a new way of thinking about collage as a term by creating a bridge between video and performance. What may it mean to remediate, excavate and bring back to life a personal archive of paintings and drawings and mobile phone recording made over the span of 25 years through the medium of moving image and then remediate that remediation through the medium of live performance via Zoom?

Innovating the possibilities of media re-use, feeding-back and looping round of text, and the layering of the voices, this multi-layered multimedia sociocreative performance live Zoom performance is a colourful, immersive, textured, organic and disorienting montage of young queer experience told through my own personal autobiography. ‘Never seen anything THAT immersive on Zoom!' one audience member recently commented.

The key underlying principles in early video art were the body and the performance object and that was the thing that signified its liveness and differentiated it from the history of cinema /avant-garde film. The parts of the performance presented as a back projection performance comes from the history of video art (Vito Acconci, Valie Export, early Nam June Paik, Robert Morris’ film Mirror etc.) where the camera becomes like a mirror or a viewer that can be controlled. The video being live and able to feedback on itself is similar to my Zoom usage here.. On one hand the work is like a flashback 45 years but now bought into the present due to the now unprecedented familiar use of Zoom as a desktop communication tool in 2020/1 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Zoom attempts to put bodies in a room (at a time) when you can’t have bodies in a room. People have become much more familiar with it to a point of fatigue in terms of amongst other things, how it promotes a disembodied embodiment. In this Zoom explosion, primary importance has been given to the face and the way that we are looking at each other now even to the naming of an app like Facetime (similar model to Zoom just different name) and not as Matthew Noel-Tod, when in conversation about this work, wittlingly remarked, called ‘Backtime’. The face is hugely significant in all this technology so me turning my back is a simple yet powerful reversal of that. Reading me as well as hearing me. A recent viewer suggested that my turned back appears almost demonic. Whilst it could be said to turn one’s back on an audience is a deliberate act to conceal oneself or block the audience, that’s not what is happening here either. A friend commented upon seeing the performance that her favourite part was when I turn around to check if the audience are ‘still there’.

The performance really pushes Zoom’s visual aesthetics as a means to frame, act as a visual container and play with different levels of order and chaos through the visual confinement achieved. With my back turned to audience, my back operates like a screen/projection surface, exploiting the fragmented-ness and inaccessible feeling of turning your back to the audience.. Green screen effect employed with a constant repetitive video being played ‘projected’ onto my back gives the impression of text and imagery superimposed over my body, that I am wearing text/imagery like a garment, that of a body that has been layered with fragments of text/images/ history. Sounds that can be heard throughout the performance are textured, glitchy and uncomfortable deliberately to give a sense of layers which in turn gives the painful impression of things (the many bodies that feature) being skinned. My back turned to the camera/to the audience constantly comes in and out of the green screen; my body that keeps getting subsumed and emerging again. Whilst some viewers have comment that they thought I was really controlling the green screen, but I have no control; as the green screen progresses, the body seems to disappear more and more as more and more layers on the surface.

Containing so many visual and audio clashes and dizzying sound levels for texture and difference, the layering subsides in places and towards the end and the taunts are heard more clearly. Whilst there are moments throughout the performance where I make everything super clear and then I go back out, this is a performance where the importance and clarity of hearing an understanding is deliberately obscured/ intentionally difficult to decipher; an intentional confusion to suggest that the audience many not understand what's going on. Whilst audiences may or may not pick up on all the many references here, it is intended that they will, at base level, have a sensory/elusive view of the work, as one viewer recently described ‘a block of amazing visual and auditory input’.

Whilst it could be said to turn one’s back on an audience is a deliberate act to conceal oneself or block the audience, that’s not what is happening here either. The audience is never sure what is live, what is pre-recorded and what is playback of what has been recorded during the live performance. Pre-recorded sounds playing in the background on iTunes shuffle which I react to there and then in the moment of liveness. Some viewers of documentation of the performance have mentioned that they are completely unaware that they were watching documentation of a live performance. Some have suggested that the writing on my back is happening live too. Whilst the green screen background acts a base, each live iteration containing so many levels of improvisation means that the performance can never be repeated twice. Its duration is important (beyond the initial early iterations of this work at approx.. 5 minutes); through a length(ier) the viewer is shown the complexity of the layers, what’s in them and how they interact, and they are being show that again and again and again and it’s never the same.