Jamila Johnson-Small

Visual Arts - Shortlisted 2019

Jamila Johnson-Small’s formal training is in dance and, since graduating in 2009, she has been finding ways to ‘upset’ this training as a statement about expectations of the performing body and its audience. With this approach, she presents work that acknowledges and mobilises the body as a site of politics, trying to destabilise and unsettle illusions of knowledge, achievement or development by incorporating work with forms in which she is an amateur.

Her work navigates states of overwhelm and alienation, utilising density and simultaneity to create environments, i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere (Fierce Festival, 2017) was the beginning of this practice of working with and through intensities: ‘a meditation on...the responsibilities of blackness and queerness, the pressure to ‘take space’, the feeling of being possessed by other people’s fantasies’.

Johnson-Small is interested in using the concept of a choreographic space to facilitate ‘immersive spaces of potential’ for both performer and spectator, considering it to be a certain kind of social space, for exchange and not-necessarily-verbal communication.

Jamila was also shortlisted for the 2017 Awards for Live Art.