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Utopia Portals Jessica Ashman

Focal Point Gallery
11.00 am to 5.00 pm

We’re pleased to announce the forthcoming launch of a new moving image commission for Big Screen Southend by artist Jessica Ashman. Awarded through a call for submissions in 2020, Utopia Portals will launch on 13 February and continue until 24 April 2022. The film will be screened daily on Big Screen Southend from 11am to 5pm, or available to watch online.

Utopia Portals explores utopian concepts of belonging and ‘unbelonging’, from multi-disciplinary artist Jessica Ashman. Inspired by the Ashman’s first trip to her ancestral homeland of Jamaica, Utopia Portals uses a mix of animated loops, mobile phone footage and soundscapes recorded during her time on the island to create a series of short filmic ‘glitches’ of reality that reveal various forms of surreal hidden worlds. The piece is inspired by the idea of ‘heterotopia’: a concept put forward by the French philosopher Michel Foucault to describe certain cultural spaces that are somehow ‘other’: contradictory or transforming in nature.  Utopia Portals delves into the dreams, desires, nightmares and reality of a “homecoming” to a home you are not connected to.

Jessica Ashman is a London based artist working in animation moving image, music, performance and installation. Her work focusses on creating experimental narratives that explore gender, identity and race. Her work draws on the wider stories of the Black British diaspora communities she was raised in, especially the histories and oral testimonies that have been lost or hidden in these communities. Science-fiction narratives and the meta-physical theories these narratives present are also influences on Jessica’s practice, especially when it comes to world-building within her moving image work.

Ashman also teaches her practice with workshops that explore cultural identity, belonging and histories of oppression, having worked with the Tate, ICA and Wellcome Trust. She has an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art and is an associate lecturer in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths.

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