FACET provides a fresh perspective on contemporary Queer Art, a series of five exhibitions are happening this June at Deptford’s VSSL Studio, then continuing with four further exhibitions until January 2024. This new programme of commissions from invited artists offers exploration and celebration of queer culture in a community-focused space that opened in 2020 as a ‘site of gathering and creation’. Devised and curated by VSSL Studio co-founder Benjamin Sebastian, the inaugural FACET exhibition, running from June 1-18, presents a selection of Sebastian’s work in dialogue with that of fellow London-based artist Alicia Radage.
Radage and Sebastian invite viewers to explore the edges of queer identities through a mix of wearable sculptures, installations, paper-sewn tapestries, performances to camera and blood-drawn works on paper. In addition, both artists will present live performance interventions at the launch event on Friday, June 2nd.
Deconstructing margins between conscious and lesser-known worlds, both Radage and Sebastian are neurodiverse and, together, encourage a reimagining of numerous identity structures and relational systems, including (but not limited to) the categories of gender, sexuality, humanity and the neurotypical.
While distinct in formal approaches, Sebastian and Radage’s practices enact a convergence at the thresholds of esoteric, spiritual and more-or-other-than-human domains. As a result, visitors can expect to encounter a mix of formal, delicate art objects interwoven with attempts at interspecies communication as well as magical utterances.
Benjamin Sebastian says; “My work is all about relationships. Be that between materials, systems, entities, environments, objects and/or processes. It’s all about the relationship and time/spaces between things. This is why my body, or at least an echo of it, is present in many of my works, but the work itself is always about something more, else and other, just outside the frame of the material and subject. It’s about those things that remain slightly beyond our perception, language or grasp.”
In addition to the FACET launch event, VSSL Studio will host an In Conversation with Alicia Radage & Benjamin Sebastian chaired by Serpentine Galleries Curator Tamsin Hong Saturday, June 17, from 6-8 pm.
Benjamin Sebastian is a trans-disciplinary artist and curator. Their practice, in their own words, might be imagined as “A constellation of mirrors, reflecting aspects of the body, time and spaces they inhabit, or as world-making experiments, manifested through processes of bricolage, assemblage and ritual”.
Sebastian received their BA in Fine Art (HONS) from the University of Lincoln and is currently enrolled on the MA Curating Art and Public Programmes through Whitechapel Gallery & LSBU. They are Chief Curator & Co-founding Director of ]performance s p a c e [ (London and Folkestone) and Co-founding Co-director of VSSL Studio. Benjamin curated the well-documented PSX: A Decade of Performance Art in the UK, celebrating ten years of ]performance s p a c e [ which presented a ten-hour durational event with performances from artists including Anne Bean, Martin O’Brien, Rubiane Maia and Alastair MacLennan. Benjamin also recently spoke as part of Art, Memory & Place at Turner Contemporary, exhibited Working With Entities//Setting Intent at VSSL Studio and performed their three-hour durational work 3 Reflections² at the ICA as part of Joseph Morgan Schofield’s FUTURERITUAL season in 2022. In addition, Sebastian has contributed to a new commission from NIKE in collaboration with Greater Goods, highlighting the artistic potential and sustainability of circular economies, which is currently on display at Nike Town in London.
Alicia Radage’s practice manifests through performance, video, sculpture and sound. Their current research looks at the intersection between the neurodiverse experience and animist practice, looking to ways of communicating and being outside the neurotypical. Alicia has taught fine art and theatre courses at universities at both MA and BA levels. They have shown work in the UK and internationally, including Whitstable Biennale, MOMA Bogotá, Venice International Performance Art Week, GIANT Gallery, SPILL Festival, Perfolink in Chile, Parlour in London and Lithuania’s Meno Parkas. They have been supported by Arts Council England, the British Council and Shape Arts. Alicia graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2011 with a Distinction in Advanced Theatre Practice.
Alicia Radage says; “My work centres around remembering lines of communication between us and the more than human. My starting point is most often an impulse and the process from there develops and refines the work. Some objects found in the exhibition conjure the uncanny, in a play to ask questions of contemporary humanity. Within that framework I blend human and non-human forms to poke at where we’ve been and where we can go from here. Other bodies of work in the exhibition take their lead from the pushes and pulls of my own subconscious as well as our collective unconscious”
VSSL Studio, founded in 2020 by Benjamin Sebastian and Joseph Morgan Schofield , is housed in Enclave’s artist-run, non-profit infrastructure near the Deptford railway station on Resolution Way. Enclave hosts a community of galleries and creative organisations, championing experimental, critical and, above all, contemporary cultural practices. VSSL Studio has been a supportive home to multiple artists and projects dedicated to the holding and nurturing of time-based practices and their satellites. Most importantly, they are a queer-led organisation championing the development of queer art and culture.
Post June, FACET presents exhibitions from June Lam from August 10, Rocío Boliver this November, and Marcin Gawin in January 2024, as well as a group exhibition curated by Benjamin Sebastian this October. Each exhibition will launch with a special evening event and in conversations with guests throughout the FACET programme.
Top Photo: Marco Berardi © 2023
VSSL Studio is open from Thursday-Sunday, 12-5. Instagram @vsslstudio Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vsslstudio
FACET: A Series of Exhibitions Showcasing Contemporary Queer Art & Culture June 1, 2023, to January 28, 2024, https://vssl-studio.org/