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Artist of the Month is back in its special January edition! It’s been a while since I wrote introducing an artist I admire and respect, and to compensate I have not one, as it’s usual, but three personae in this month’s series. I introduce a playwright / multidisciplinary artist Jennifer Farmer, artist, performer and photographer Samuel Overington and last but not least, Coffee and Sponge – composed in collaboration by these two talented creatives. Are you with me?…

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I come to their studio near Unit 3 Projects gallery in London which is airy and light flooded. Both artists have their own independent creative practice, but also work together in a fresh and unique way. They create pieces that are both epic and intimate, permanent and transient and all this together with public. This cross art form company was founded in 2010 and it mixes up and plays around with many mediums, adapting from project to project. I associate with them the evocative tools, actions and unusual materials connected to their art such as spices, rice, drawing instruments, eating, poetry and performance, dance and tomatoes; I can’t wait to tell you more – let’s celebrate and look at ‘expressions extraordinaire’ by Coffee and Sponge!

 

EATING OUR WORDS

Illustrational image. Photo by Silvia Krupinska.

Illustrational image. Photo by Silvia Krupinska.

I’ve had a pleasure to take part in the première of the performance in the Eating Our Words series in June 2011, at The Old Police Station, SE14 6LG, London, in CEL(L)EBRATE GOOD TIMES- PERFORMANCE NIGHT with many different artists! C+S performance was advertised like this: ‘With a corridor as a canvas, Coffee+Sponge première their work EATING OUR WORDS, where layers of flesh, memories and food bear witness to our existence. Marking on, around and with our bodies using as materials the raw ingredients from our past and future, invites people to share their stories about food with Coffee and Sponge.’

I picked a box of ground cinnamon and described a personal cinnamon story, (it all started for me, through loving it in the Strudel my grandmother would bake). Coffee and Sponge in exchange told me one of their powder-food-based-stories, while they dusted each other with the brown powder and drew on their bodies with fingers. (Some images on Coffee and Sponge Facebook page.)

As a note I’d like to add, that the site of The Old Police Station (the cell areas for prisoners in fact) added this weird accent to the performance, as some viewers would sit in the cells and poke their heads out to observe. This was only one of the places where Eating Our Words was performed, and I’m sure that each of the sites have their own atmosphere that adds to the art.

 

EAT LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING  

Eat like No one's Watching poster. © Coffee and Sponge

Eat like No one’s Watching poster. © Coffee and Sponge

EAT LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING,

like there are no rules,

like there are no manners, 

like there are no consequences, 

like there are no judgements, 

like no one’s watching…..

…Is a widely toured performance by Coffee and Sponge shown live at the UK’s finest festivals such as Hot August Fringe Festival, Supernormal Festival and PLAYGROUP Festival, including an international residency in Hartberg, Austria. Coffee and Sponge created a black velvet booth or they call it ‘Luxury Banquet Chamber’, where they placed a tasty variety of foods, starting from cream cakes, sweets, cereal box still in its box, to burgers and other moreish snacks, and this foodie experience, one at the time, people could enjoy and literally ‘Eat like No one Was Watching‘ for as long as they wanted. No one was looking in deed, and whoever entered had a total freedom and privacy of choosing what they wanted. There was a vanity table at the end, with a hand-wash, some mints and a hand cream, to take away any left overs from one’s face and hands and soothe those hands. This mind-blowing performance has stayed undocumented, to preserve and protect it’s quality and total honesty about it. More about projects here

 

WALTZING TOMATOES 

© Coffee and Sponge

© Coffee and Sponge

This is a ground breaking film and performance by Coffee and Sponge, produced as their top project in 2013. They (in short) dance around with tomatoes between their touch points of their nude bodies. It has developed from their drawing salon, dancing with tomatoes and from then on it was performed life. As Jennifer (Coffee) told me, it was for them a very visual, emotional and fulfilling piece to create. I also asked about the importance of wearing costumes / or not in this case. And they told me that they use their naked  bodies as canvas. Everything else is a costume, hence raising more problems if wearing one. If they do wear a certain costume, it in deed is very specific and well thought through. This film was premièred at On Site in Unit 3 Projects in London, during the open studios On Site. I must mention Coffee and Sponge’s participation in exhibition CONTENT at ATHICA (Athens Institute for Contemporary Art), USA from September 7th, 2013 – October 26th, 2013 . This was curated by Darin Beasley, who approached them and commissioned them for this piece to be finished in it’s final form, the film.

My introduction to this creative duo (whom I’ve known for a few years now) is coming to an end. I’ve picked up some tips on this amazing research of their work myself. Samuel (Sponge) told me, for him it is ‘all about learning to trust simplicity’. Their ideas carry that simple element. They have a sense of beauty and connectivity with the world and themselves, which is original and refreshing. I’m very much looking forward to Coffee and Sponge performances in 2014, but one thing you can be sure of. There will be spice, there will be movement and there always will be silent theatrical atmosphere in their work. Follow their work and subscribe to their newsletters here and tell me, If I’m wrong.

All this talking about sponge and coffee made me somehow hungry, so I’m off to the shops to buy some, with hope you enjoyed my post.

All the best, Silvia.

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