Can you describe your work in five words?
Colorful and adorned urban sisterhood
What is your typical process when working?
Each of our very different performances come together during our regular tribe meetings. We have a pretty special rapport together which allows us to collaborate equally on ideas and choreography. As such, routines and concepts form as a result of everyone’s input and everyone’s approval and mounting excitement! The costumes are essential in communicating our message to audiences because their initial arresting visual spectacle is the driving force of our performance: they grab and hold spectator interest, within which the performances play out. Though two or three of our (most textile-savvy!) members produce the bulk of our costumes, we have in recent years begun to form very distinct characters for which we all contribute ideas and effort both in terms of costume, body painting and performance.
The masks are especially important – we all regard them as a kind of ‘liberation lubrication’ when it comes to jumping out of our normal selves and plunging into our Sequana characters. The costumes and body paint employ a wild use of colour which always unites us even when the shapes and themes of individual costumes differ – colour is the lifeblood of the Haus!
What is it that attracted you to apply for the Winter Pride UK 2014 Art Award?
To perform at an awards ceremony is something Haus of Sequana has yet to do, Winter Pride is going to be a new experience for us and for the audience too. Environment really shapes our rituals, the history and architecture of Tobacco Docks is something we are excited to explore, perhaps we’ll swoop down from the rafters!
How do you feel your work responds to the brief ‘#Art Is…’
#Art is temporary escape….
And this is what Haus of Sequana hope to give audiences in whatever form possible – whether that’s short-lived entertainment or eye-opening inspiration. Our dream is for our performances to inspire someone who is strongly inclined to express themselves in a bare, naked, colourful way (surely everyone?) but feels that they can’t, to just go for it – because it’s important, amazing, and fun in a way usually reserved for childhood
We’d also love to get both women and men to consider women’s bodies from a fresh perspective, with a view to both redefine the meaning of ‘beautiful’ and which ‘boundaries’ one can cross before being considered ‘slutty.’
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
We have three primary influences and inspirations: tribal traditions, circus clowns, and the conventions of BDSM.
The clown-like elements of our costume and behaviour are inspired by that very clownlike ability to suspend the disbelief of adulthood with the garish silliness of childhood – another thing we reckon is sorely missing from today’s society! Unlocking those primal instincts to dress and act in whichever way one’s imagination conjures is extremely liberating (for our audiences, we hope, as well ourselves!).
The sexualised elements of our costume and performance intend – rather experimentally – to take ownership of the things that women have to deal with in everyday life within a fun, over the top, empowering context. We aim to get audiences to look at women’s naked bodies without toxic associations; more as beautiful extensions of ourselves that are not more or less beautiful because of how they fit into a scale of good to bad that has been defined for us. And being controlled and manipulated against one’s will – which features in our performances when we are hypnotised by the Queen, ganged up on by the rest of the tribe, or chained together – allows us to explore the darker sides of human sexuality and relationships within a safe and purely artistic environment.
What are you most looking forward to at Winter Pride UK 2014?
A new experience.
Interview by Alice Botham, Winter Pride UK Arts Co-ordinator