May 2, 2014 6:30 pm

Interview: Eddie Peake

At Frieze New York, the artist will be the subject of a solo booth at the Lorcan O’Neill gallery, which will include a performance

Eddie Peake was born in London in 1981. His practice includes painting, sculpture, installation, video and photography but he is most famous for staging performances such as “Touch”, a five-a-side naked football match at the Royal Academy.

At Frieze New York he will be the subject of a solo booth at the Lorcan O’Neill gallery, which will include a performance.

©Johnnie Shand Kydd

Eddie Peake

What can you tell us about the Frieze performance?

It will be quite different from any I have done before. Usually, the audience shows up at a specific time in a gallery and the performance lasts around an hour and has a loose narrative structure with a beginning, middle and an end. But this piece will last a minute or two and recur throughout the fair without any announcement.

Why the change?

I don’t think an art fair is the right context for a spectacle-type performance. I want a momentary, abrasive insertion that flares up and vanishes.

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Do you struggle to sell them?

No, inasmuch as I’ve never particularly tried to sell a performance! I don’t want to make any concrete rules about it, but I do like the fact that, to a large extent, performance works inherently defy that functionality, and yet feed off it too, because they can exist in the context of a fair, museum or gallery.

Some artists love to break free of those institutional spaces. Are you quite attached to them?

I’ve exhibited in a broad variety of contexts actually but inevitably the ones that garner most attention are established commercial galleries, fairs and institutions. Having said that, I do love the way galleries are so tense. It’s like a switch gets turned on when you walk in: “I am viewing. What am I viewing? What’s my position on what I am viewing?”. I find that fascinating.

Why are your performers so often naked or semi-naked?

A number of reasons, one of which is that I am interested in characters who are sexualised in a way that defies stereotypes. I love Prince, for example, and Ruby Rhod, the radio show presenter in the film The Fifth Element who seems like a flamboyant, drag-queen-style gay guy but everything he says is ferociously heterosexual.

‘Wall Structure’ for Frieze New York

So you like the contradiction?

But’s it’s not a contradiction! It’s totally normal. It becomes a contradiction because of the stereotypes that we impose on gender.

Why do you make art?

I’m not entirely sure but I often have ideas which could be anything from an image, a sentence, a mood, a memory, a movement, a space and so on, and then I think: “Oh that would be wonderful or beautiful or wrong. I want to do it!”

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