ANIMATE x QUAD Presents: Identity…


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Derby QUAD & Cinema
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Identity… is an exhibition at Derby QUAD that features moving image work by four artists: Jessica Ashman, Jake Elwes and Me the Drag Queen, and Nina Thomas, and is a collaboration between QUAD and Animate Projects.

From diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, the work of the exhibiting artists references a range of themes including trauma and how this can lead to a sense of hope; how lives are shaped by a particular culture industry and workers; and the place of AI in modern society.

Whilst the artists make work that is distinct in subject, style and approach, they have in common a personal and political interest in ways in which marginalised lives can be affected by, othered, and be responsive to, the world in which we live. Their work explores, respectively: Black, deaf, and Queer histories and lived experience – questioning and challenging misconceptions, reclaiming discriminatory histories and revealing bias; but presents work that is ultimately proud, celebratory and hopeful.

Each artist film will be screened at set times through the exhibition opening hours, each day.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Derby City Council.

Animate Projects is a Derby based agency that works across animation, the visual arts and film, supporting artists and engaging people with their work and process.

QUAD is Derby’s Cultural Hub providing contemporary art exhibitions, film, cinema, integrated digital media work and a range of educational and creative activities that is inspirational, innovative and inclusive.

Artist Works:

Jessica Ashman

DAWTA, 7 mins, 2021

Hold Tight, 1 min, 2018

DAWTA (2021) tells the story of a young Black woman, running away from a pivotal moment in her family history. Guided by two elders, she discovers a safe, future utopian planet for Black women through a mysterious superpower. Inspired by Black science fiction author Octavia Butler, and by Jessica’s own family history of migration and trans-racial fostering, DAWTA combines experimental animation techniques and live musical performance to create a sci-fi narrative of interdimensional time travel, questioning the possibilities of imagining better futures for the Black diaspora.

Produced by Abigail Addison at Animate Projects, and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the film is part of a multi-layered project which includes an audio-visual performance and EP release from Ashman’s music project, Spirit Sigh.

Hold Tight (2018) explores the importance of Carnival across the UK and how its celebrations provide an important connection to heritage and identity for younger generations of the Black Caribbean diaspora in Britain. It is a journey into the feeling of belonging, through the rituals of Carnival attendance and the power of bass.

Commissioned by Animate and Anim18, with support from Arts Council England and the BFI, and presented in the QUAD/V21 Artspace virtual gallery.

Jake Elwes and Me the Drag Queen

Welcome to The Zizi Show, 2 min, 2020

The Zizi Show – I Am What I Am, 3 mins, 2020

Zizi & Me – Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better), 5 mins, 2020

Making of The Zizi Show, 6 min, 2021

Zizi & Me is a double act between a drag queen Me The Drag Queen, and their Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) deepfake clone of Me The Drag Queen.

It is part of the Zizi Project (2019 – ongoing), a collection of works that explore the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and drag performance. Facial recognition algorithms (and deepfake technology) have difficulty recognising trans, queer and other marginalised identities: the Zizi Project, through cabaret and musical theatre, challenges narratives surrounding A.I. and society, exposing how, whilst Drag challenges gender and explores otherness, A.I. – often mystified as a concept and tool – is complicit in reproducing social bias.

Nina Thomas

PLACE SETTING, 12 mins, 2023

PLACE SETTING interviews, 30 mins, 2023

PLACE SETTING refers to a set of tableware for dining, and also resonates with how lives are shaped by a particular culture, industry and workers. Nina’s new film explores themes of loss, memory and community, and what it is to live in and work in a hearing world, in the context of the ceramics industry in The Potteries. Nina researched local archives in Stoke-on-Trent, and met with deaf former ceramic industry workers; interviews with ex-Potteries workers, Malcolm Johnson and Anne Cartlidge, are shown alongside the film.

PLACE SETTING was commissioned by Animate and British Ceramics Biennial. It was shown at the British Ceramics Biennial in 2023, and tours to LUX, London, in April 2024.

The project has been supported by Deaflinks, The Willows School, Spode Museum Trust, and Stoke-on-Trent City Archives. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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