Meet the artist: Sophie Fenella

Sophie Fenella was the winner of our inaugural Dynamite commission and will be performing her poetry installation ‘The Archive’ at the Saboteur Awards, along with Antosh Wojcik. We asked her a few questions about what to expect on the night.

How did your idea for the ‘The Archive’ come about? Were there any particular influences?

Sophie Fenella: I have been interested in the idea of attempting to document a live event through performance since reading Archive Fever by Derrida, and becoming aware of the inevitable failure of trying to create an accurate representation of a live event in words. I guess this idea came from reveling in that failure, and using the gaps between the live and the recorded event for creative experimentation. There is also an incredible archive at the University of Sussex, where I studied, called the Mass Observation Archive, which also inspired this installation.  when I was studying at Sussex my tutor introduced me to The Mass Observation Archive which specializes in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains documents created through social research conducted in 1937 -1950, interviews, diary entries, letters, that serve to represent that period of time.I think there is something quite clinical about attempting to record a passage of time in this way, and that clinical approach combined with Derrida’s concept of the writers inability to accurately record a live event, inspired me to create this installation.

Can you tell us a little about what to expect on the night?

SF: I will be working with another poet, Antosh Wojcik. Together we will document the awards in poetry. we will create personalized poems for the audience members to take home with them, which will be based on the events of the evening. To do this, we will need to interview the audience, so come find us! We have a lot of questions that need answers.

Should audience members bring anything to the awards for you?

SF: Bring open minds and open hearts, also words, we will ask the audience to contribute to a collective poem that will be written throughout the night. Also, bring answers, we have a lot of questions.

This isn’t your first poetry installation – what attracts you to this medium?

SF: I am interested in ways of creating performance poetry that goes beyond reading a poem on a stage. I think the performing arts and poetry have a lot to lend each other, and I am interested in ways of creating ways of experiencing poetry that are active and participatory.

Any exciting projects in the pipeline?

SF: I am excited to be performing at a festival in Germany in June, in a performance that combines WWE wrestling with cabaret and circus! I am also working towards creating more poetic installations in Berlin.