Florence Peake was interviewed by Millie Walton of Apollo magazine on the occasion of her exhibition, Enactment, at Richard Saltoun Gallery and FACTUAL ACTUAL: Ensemble at Southwark Park Galleries in London.
In her work, that disconnect is often made visible through moments of chaos, such as when a performer in Factual Actual comes crashing through the space tangled up in stretcher bars, but it is also felt in a series of paintings and sculptures currently on display at Richard Saltoun Gallery in Mayfair. The body as depicted here is anything but stable – fragmented, twisted, bulging limbs tumble through space, while reclining sculptures made from loosely applied plaster bandages and wooden sticks appear either half-formed or decomposing. Messiness across mediums is a joyful rebellion for Peake – a way of pushing against traditional notions of femininity.
‘I feel great reverence towards the feminist performance art of the 1970s, where gesture was enough – this ephemeral, very transient act that can’t be captured – but I don’t want to fall in love with that,’ says Peake. ‘Like almost every young person who gets into performance art, that’s where I started: covering myself in paint and doing a sort of Yves Klein cliche thing. But now I’m wanting to take that gesture and turn it into something else so that it’s not stuck in its own history.’ All the works at Richard Saltoun are the products of performative actions. This fact doesn’t necessarily mean that they were made in front of an audience, but rather that they were painted, drawn and sculpted using choreographed movements, such as pressing her body onto the canvas. They are records of this process, but they also ‘take on their own autonomy,’ as Peake puts it.
To read the full piece, please visit Apollo's website.
Enactment is on view until 8 July, 2023.