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Doodlebug Selects Rosanne Robertson

The Mancunian artist on including a rouge Primark staffer in her performance art

Adopted Mancunian Doodlebug launched his career in ’95 with a performance alongside recording artist Mr Scruff. Moonlighting as artist and producer Michael Barnes-Wynters, Doodlebug facilitates audiovisual interventions, often live. His pick of the city’s emerging ones, artist Rosanne Robertson, follows a similar path of practising art and producing music. Robertson is also a member of band ILL.

My Dad helps me explore a lot in my work mainly to do with my working class culturally void background and ideas to do with risk taking and restriction

"For me Rosanne's very much a 'doodlebug', that is to say, a provocateur who tirelessly works across all platforms, creating work by any medium necessary and who works beneath the skin," Doodlebug says of Robertson whose recent exhibition, ‘The Philosophical Daredevil’, included a performance as a rogue staff member at Primark. We caught up with Robertson to discuss her evolving practice and why she includes her father in her work.

Dazed Digital: Your work’s been mostly about live performance. Is your video something new for you?
Rosanne Robertson:
I started using video to document and present process-based and live works. At the minute I feel like it is taking on a different role, I use it a tool to go through ideas that surround live works and as pieces of research themselves.

DD: How do you engage with morality in your practice?
Rosanne Robertson:
I’d been collecting objects for a sound piece and there were some ants in a little bottle and I took them to the studio – a little perfume bottle – and I left them there and I forgot them. I was trying to make a sound piece about death and then something died. I brought them back to life in the work by making them 'dance' to the vibrations made by the track. I don't think ants should have to die for art but I also don't think artists have a responsibility to be moral. I do make sure I have questioned myself enough to know that being 'unmoral' is useful and not just to be disruptive as I don't think that is worthwhile in itself.

DD: Do you often involve your father into your work?
Rosanne Robertson:
It first happened when I got invited to do a residency in 2010 called Boatelier. One of the aims of the residency was to engage with ‘non-arts audience’. I suppose what I wanted to do was kind of flip that on its head and put somebody in the residency. The relevance of it being my father was that he was the most 'non-arts' person I know. My Dad helps me explore a lot in my work mainly to do with my working class culturally void background and ideas to do with risk taking and restriction.

DD: So tell me about your father’s experience as an adopted resident.
Rosanne Robertson:
He was really inspired by the time he was there. About three weeks after that, every conversation my Dad initiated was about art. He was working as a bricklayer shortly afterwards and rang me with an idea about making a video about a wall. Its a massive thing that he has allowed himself to be less restricted and to think in this new way.