Spill Writing

En Masse, a collective beginning


The following texts emerged from a process of collaboration between the Spill Writers; they exchanged texts, asked questions that emerged from them, and were then invited to respond.



What might bind us together, as a people of SPILL Festival, is a commitment to a shared life, a vision of a better way of being together. We can be a stronger, safer and more permissive community. As groups and cultures travel and diffuse through international migration, we realise we are not a fixed people with one history, one story, or one language, but we can be drawn together as a people through a process of constant invention and reinvention. In reaction to exclusionary Nationalistic rhetoric, Kwame Anthony Appiah in his Reith Lecture on Tuesday morning suggested that a people is created through a commitment to creating a ‘common life together’. In the wave of right-wing nationalism that is surging across Europe, a pluralistic, accepting and loving space can seem fragile. But perhaps in the Festival we can prove this is possible. – done




Work leaves it stain on you in a way you can conjure up the feelings, pictures, atmospheres and empathy. Like any experience, you can feel a bit alarmed, bemused at your initial reaction so reflection is part of the natural process of thinking which isn’t an inhibitor and that kind of self reflection is important for the reader as it humanises the writer. All that certainty can be a bit dull.



To be self aware of how you are looking at something is to be shared with your reader. I don’t think that’s personal bias, I think that’s honesty. When writing about any art is to be subjective anyway. A piece of work written about today will hopefully be different when written about again a year later. I think subjectivity should be embraced!



My recent encounter with queer feminist theorists , and Renate Lorenz at this moment in my practice has led to an interest in disrupting linear, normative representations of time in performance. I come with an interest to develop a queer, feminist durational mode of seeing as writing strategy. I tend to ask, what does the work generate, how does it speak outside of itself, in what ways do the images ignite other thoughts, affects and histories and what strategies do they utilize to do this?

I think that collaborating- introducing what could be very differing voices into a singular text, could be incoherent, formless, jarring, and invite multiple propositions for the reader. I am interested in how this could be a generative strategy, but obviously this would require experimenting with the text, and exploring different ways of writing with each other. Some ideas: placing texts side by side, cut-up, additions to someone else’s text (like an exquisite corpse).



In order to understand Live Art in form, it may be essential to understand the interaction with body art and performance art. It seems odd perhaps to separate these art forms so distinctly when there is a need for one in order to understand the other. It could be questioned whether the work that is produced from those making live art is inclusive to those that are only involved within the live art community. Its inability to be commodified, due to the small scope of financial benefit that is on offer for those makers/performers/producers, creates an inclusivity for those that are able to support themselves through other ways, for example, creating art that fits within a different, mainstream viewed sector in order to provide for experimental non-profitable work.



I begin the piece with notes, with stream-of-consciousness;

I often write very quickly; I deliberately look for a rhythm in what I’m experiencing.

I wrote the questions in anticipation of thinking about En Masse, and imagined them read aloud.

The deliberate flow, interruptions and alliteration are intended to try and create a level of meaning that sits beneath the words, like music.


I’m new to thinking about performance art, although in my practice I’ve experimented with combinations of code, live data-processing and infra-red feedback to create live visuals from performance. I’m drawn to the ‘what if’s’ of experience, and performance art possesses an immediacy that is not easy to document. More specifically, the lens I’m considering when writing about SPILL is the ‘man-made-murmuration’; an assumed, invisible conversation between audience and spectacle.


– Phoebe, Mark, Michelle, Jackie, Claire and Lissie