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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

HEADFUCK: Liv Wynter

March 28, 2016
Filling gaps in the digital art market, and questioning the authority of the spectator – Taylor McGraa looks in retrospect at Liv Wynter’s first solo show.

 

headfuck press (1)

Picture by Liv Wynter 

In the eclectic world of Goldsmiths Alumni, Liv Wynter is taking the stage by storm. Last year, Wynter left our campus with one finger up to the cautionary tales about Fine Art students ending up in Tesco, long before they ever made their big creative break. Since leaving uni, she has worked tirelessly around bar and retail jobs to ensure that her voice is being heard – and at the beginning of the year, she endeavoured on her first ever solo show.

Completely self-governed, self-organised and self-produced, HEADFUCK was the product of some very hard work, and also an example of Wynter’s innovative engagement with the future of digital art. HEADFUCK lasted thirty one days, and was made up of a series of one-to-one Skype performances, all starting at exactly 1am. Known typically for her impassioned pieces in witness of a larger audience, Wynter decided to take the medium of spoken word, and render it to a much more intimate level.

“The main intention”, Wynter told me, “was to simulate those moments you have in the dead of night, with that person you’re in love with or used to love. The moments that are hard and unbearable but beautiful, and that stay with you for a few days and change you a little bit, or change your understanding [of the person]”. The performance I witnessed proved to be exactly this.

The night following a short coffee and a chat with Wynter, I sat at my desk waiting for the clock to hit the hour. At one in the morning, I video called her, and as I sat in front of my laptop screen I had no idea what to do other than smile awkwardly, like when you’re observing something you shouldn’t really be looking at. I become the voyeur.

As Liv Wynter sat behind the screen, there was a sadness in her eyes that I recognised. Mascara was smudged under her eyes and she looked tired – she smiled sheepishly, starting her story about how she was sitting in a bar, the life of the party, before her ex walked in and anxiety began to suffocate. She struggled with her hard exterior, “I’m okay, I’m okay” she reassured me over the video call. I had been here before.

Although Wynter’s performance exposed a true sense vulnerability, as soon as I had made the video call, it was she – as the artists – who had the power. Before the performance, I had been told that I was not allowed to vocally respond to Liv Wynter throughout her piece, or contact her for at least twenty-four hours after the Skype session. I was rendered helpless – as we so often are when our loved ones cry for help. By fabricating this element into her performance, Wynter also effectively posed the question of our authority and privilege as a spectator of an artist. Exactly how Wynter managed to perform with such intensity and passion, every single night for thirty one days, was absolutely beyond me.

LIVWYNTER

Photo by Taylor McGraa

“It was fucking exhausting”, she admitted, “I did far too many of them drunk, or with one night stands waiting in the front room. It completely destroyed my sleep pattern; I was working full time too and it was entirely disorientating.”

How often is it that we forget the person behind the foundations of performance art. In telling me how she had to fit her pieces around her work life, social life and personal well being, Wynter humanised the figure of the artist. When somebody becomes their art, we can quickly lose sight of the honest amount of work that goes into their pieces. One way to see it is as a raw and honest sacrifice, which can be mistaken for a commodity.

“There was definitely times where I really didn’t want to do it, or when I’d had a bit much, or I’d fucked up and got dates wrong and ended up doing three in one night. But I have a lot of stamina and once I’d set myself the task I knew I was going to see it out.”

The tenacity of this artist is one to truly hold to account.

Wynter not only drew inspiration from real intimate experiences of the digital age, but also created an image of what she wanted to see in the future of digital art. Over our coffee, Wynter touched on the abundance of “cutesy cam girl” art that currently exists in the digital art sphere.

“[It is a form which] is totally valid and important and sometimes really successful”, she implored, “but I just felt like there was something else, something a bit more intense and confessional to be explored. Something a little less prepared and polished.”

Wynter saw what was – essentially – a gap in the digital art market. She has found a niche and new aesthetic, and filled it with everything she’s had.

Since HEADFUCK, the thirst for Wynter has soared. She has recently graced the pages of Polyester Zine, and has been name dropped in articles by both Dazed and ID. With a recent performance at the Sisters Uncut fundraiser, she is also becoming a rapidly recognised voice in campaigning for important feminist and LGBTQ+ issues.

HEADFUCK also secured Wynter a place on the panel for the V&A digital futures project, and this summer she will be carrying out her first ever residency in Liverpool. “It’s still a bit hush-hush,” she told me, “but I think it’s gonna be a big thing. The bookings are coming and I am grafting, so hopefully everything will become exciting this year!”

We wish only the best for this rising, radical Goldsmiths kid.

You can catch Liv Wynter at Late at Tate Britain: My Bed on April 1st, as well as in a performance alongside Liv Fontaine on April 19th for The Rebel Man Standard.