February 3, 2023

A conversation with Lisa & Lucy

Lisa Jeschk & Lucy Beynon
Lisa Jeschk & Lucy Beynon

Saturday morning, Brixton Village. What  could be better than a coffee, a crêpe and a chat with two promising artists?

Lisa Jeschke & Lucy Beynon are two live artists with a theatrical background. Are they a duo, a collective singularity or what? Perhaps it would be better to ask them directly.


Let’s start from the beginning. When, where and why did you start working together?

We started working together in Berlin in 2008, after some previous student work in the UK. Perhaps because we wanted to think about what it might mean to make nothing, to make idiotic and non-virtuosic and terrible and foolish work. But probably this is just an explanation after the fact.

How do you think your creative process differ from that of a single artist or of an artist collective?

It has enforced a sense of obligation to (1) not to display the relationship between us or create any opening for biographical readings and (2) not ever elevate one of us over the other or over the audience in a moment of what could be idealised as a spark of productive liveness. Instead, we’re structurally forced to be as reduced and dead as possible. This often means that the only deliberate movement which occurs at all is that of the mouth. We just stand in front of the audience like the Twin Towers. The audience might attack us at any point or we might attack them and really nothing happens. But there is a strong sense of the possibility and reality of harm in a static, harmless situation.

Written words seem to have a big role in your practice. Could you explain your relationship with them?

It’s not so much written words as spoken words. There is a strong focus on a violent linearity (and objecthood) of oral speech imposing itself upon the room in a movement that creates and punctures and annihilates a heavy, totalising block of time. Time is revealed as plastic: it is to some extent destructible. Also, words work as an element of a poor theatre to the extent that everyone, audience and performer, carry them around all the time without the necessity of buying or organising them first. While performance generally appears like an asymmetric event, the potential of uttering words and sound is, to a degree, distributed equally, i.e. the audience has words at its disposal to the same extent that the performers do. Their use can really mark a performance as interruptible. Any audience member can at any point dissent and throw in a remark which it is impossible to ignore – as an act of reforming or deforming given partitions of the power of speech within a performance space. So words seem to work as objects which are heavy and clumsy and violent while also being light and trivial and invisible in performance, and they provide a site of [violent?!] contact between performers and audience.
Lisa Jeschke & Lucy Beynon
Lisa Jeschke & Lucy Beynon
What about the objects you create, are they part of your performances or are they a separate practice?
You’re referring mainly to ‘Five Live Performances’, a series of drawings which, as the name already indicates, we would also consider as performances. Perhaps as performances in which we’ve finally managed to completely absent ourselves as ‘human actors’ to establish a greater sense of reduction of personality or self-expression. At the same time, the excruciating sense of the failure to absent ourselves is something that can only be enacted if we’re present as performers. So with the objects, we feel like we’ve given ourselves an easy way out. We’ve disappeared rather than failed to disappear.

Last time I saw one of your works, we were invited to a terrorist attack at the X Marks the Bökship. Do you consider your practice political?

Yes. In theatre and performance, ‘the political’ is often displaced, as if the site of politics was somewhere else and not in the form of the performance work and its contexts. For us it is a formal politics. That particular performance is not so much a terrorist attack, but rather it exists in a state of terrorism. Sort of like the difference between dominance and hegemony. There is no clear terrorist/state or perpetrator/victim binary to impose on the performer/audience. Rather with relentless and static tension that piece violently concentrates all attention into a rigid form.

To conclude, tell us something about your next projects and where we can see you again.

The next event in London will be Showtime Festival on 15 June, where we’ll show a performance called ‘he’s dead / he’s dead / i’ve shot him in the head’. There are also some events coming up elsewhere and you can follow us on https://lisajeschkelucybeynon.blogspot.co.uk/

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