The LOTUSLAND project and collaborative unit is a site of enquiry regarding queerness. Founded in 2015 to explore queer world building and the assimilation of queer culture, LOTUSLAND has been exhibited in Cambridge, Belgium, and London. LOTUSLAND was initially inspired by artist Jack Smith and his DIY aesthetic in his durational performances in his NYC apartment. Smith’s movies (ie- ‘Flaming Creatures’) led him to become the ‘Daddy’ of queer film and performance art. LOTUSLAND gained its name through Smith’s manifesto-like writing entitled ‘THE CAPITALISM OF LOTUSLAND’:
Could art be useful? …art must not be used anymore as another elaborate means of fleeing from thinking because of the multiplying amount of information each person needs to process in order to come to any kind of decision about what kind of planet one wants to live on before business, religion, and government succeed in blowing it out of the solar system. Let art continue to be entertaining, escapist, stunning, glamorous, and NATURALISTIC – but let it also be loaded with information worked into the vapid plots of, for instance, movies. (1997, p11)
Along with exhibiting installations, producing performance and video work, we curate live queer events, and invite other artists to produce work and play with us, which enables them to explore their own artistic practice.
Always envisaged as a largely collaborative performance orientated improvisational journey, our most recent iteration funded by the Arts Council, LOTUSLAND ESTATES, started its journey as a literal representation of Estate Agents for artists. It was exciting to see how the core group evolved into facilitators for artists to collaborate with us, allowing the public to engage with the possibilities a creative space can generate.
LOTUSLAND ESTATES delivered an exciting and varied series of events and collaborations that exceeded our expectations over 23 days. We collaborated with over 15 local and national artists; workshopped with youth groups such as Circuit Cambridge; additionally we worked with university groups from two local institutions: Cambridge School of Art (CSA) and Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts (CSVPA). Our reach included visitors from age 2 to age 90 who all engaged and joined in in the art dialogue and creation. Many of these relationships will now go on to inform our practices and forge new creative partnerships. The project was also featured on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire as well as BBC Look East (West).
Throughout our LOTUSLAND projects, we have managed to introduce disparate communities to each other and facilitate a space where different people can work creatively together and learn from each other in a free, non-judgemental environment. We had sound artists, puppeteers, painters, performers, food artists, researchers, non-artists, academics, etc all working alongside and cross-pollinating with exciting ideas. It also brought a much desired lightness to the issue of the importance of creative spaces in urban planning and new developments, which is a pressing issue facing many artists both in Cambridge and nationwide.
Hoberman, J. and Leffingwell, E. eds., 1997. Wait For Me at the Bottom of the Pool : The Writings of Jack Smith. London: Serpent’s Tail.