Artist Interview: Eliza Scott

After another tumultuous winter for the arts community, Performing Lines reached out to some of our associated artists to touch base. In this series of interviews, which will be published throughout October, we spoke about lockdown coping strategies, how each artist’s practice and perspective has changed over the past year, and where creative work fits in the middle of a pandemic (if at all).

Today we hear from Eliza Scott, an interdisciplinary artist working across performance, drag, sound and film.

 

As many have pointed out, art and culture that we can access at home has been the saving grace of lockdowns. What are some of the things you’ve been reading, watching, or listening to?

I’ve been getting really into short stories over lockdown. Specifically those of Grace Paley, Joyce Carol Oates and Ali Smith. I was lucky that right at the beginning of lockdown, I hired a bunch of Ali Smith and Joyce Carol Oates books from the library and they’ve really kept me going. I cannot recommend their work highly enough.

Joyce Carol Oates’s book of short stories, The (Other) You is brilliant and flips perception and storytelling in such an innovative way – I still find myself thinking about some of the stories in that book.

I have made my way through the entire discography of Ali Smith. The seasons quartet, and the context in which is was written, is such a refreshing take on artistic practice AND Brexit (what a combination). It’s like living through someone processing their circumstances in the most imaginative and stream of conscious way.

I’ve also been making my way through the essays of Hanif Abdurraqib, in Little Devil In America and They Can’t Kill us Till They Kill Us. His poetry is outstanding, and he encapsulates the visceral feeling of listening to music so potently. He is a phenomenal wordsmith. There is so much amazing music coming out this year!

Little Simz’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert IS. EPIC. Stop everything you’re doing and listen to itright now.

I’ve fallen into the melancholy trap of Maple Glider’s, To Enjoy is the Only Thing. That album is a little world I like bask in.

Babitha’s EP, Through the Light is so refreshing. I haven’t stopped listening to Adrianne Lenker’s Songs (and Instrumentals) or Punisher (Phoebe Bridgers) since they came out. Plus new Big Thief too.

Has this been a significant change in how you engage with art?

Definitely the way I approach consuming it. I don’t usually binge, but I have found my need to fill time differently – I’ve been noticing which shows and books actually feed me, rather than make my brain switch off. I’ve been trying to take time to process what I’m taking in, as I find it can all turn into sediment pretty quickly.

 

One of the upsides of extended isolation is that it’s now socially acceptable to wear our pyjamas outside. What’s the most iconic piece of lockdown street fashion you’ve seen, or what is your absolute go to comfort ensemble?

I really hate to admit this, but my friend gave me an Oodie the other week… and I rarely take it off. It’s so cozy and disgusting. I feel like a little gremlin when I wear it.

Sourdough starters are so lockdown 2020. If you could pick one outlandish skill for
everyone to suddenly get into, what would it be?

I think if everyone learnt to juggle the world would be a better place.

 

There does seem to be a bit of pressure to use our time productively. We keep seeing
this very factually suspicious meme circulating, claiming that Shakespeare wrote King
Lear throughout a plague. Have you found this expectation of creativity in lockdown to
be a realistic standard?

It’s not realistic. Also, the amount of pressure we put on our creativity OUTSIDE of a global pandemic (without funds) is already pretty unrealistic/unhealthy. Add lockdown to it: what do you get?

THIS meme:

I won’t lie, I have pretty bad boundaries when it comes to switching off from my creativity/process/art. I’ve been completing a residency from home all of lockdown, and to try and help, I created a masking tape square in my living room. Usually I would be going to a rehearsal space, now I’ve got my little square, which stares at me when I sit on the couch and watch Ru Paul.

Healthy? Who knows.

Though I’m sure not just creatives are dealing with that working from home imbalance. I have to remind myself to stop and take stock of what I’ve got, and be okay with where I’m at each day, otherwise I’ll burn out, which I did the first time round in lockdown.

Eliza Scott is an interdisciplinary artist working across performance, drag, sound and film. The nature of their work is experimental, queer and intends to shift away from the conventional narrative. Their practice integrates technology and sound into live performance – through the use of loop pedals, live-feed and audio-trickery.

View their full artist profile here.

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