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Phoebe Collings-James arrives in Mexico

The artist and founder of Cunt Today goes head to head with Karley Sciortino about sex and bodily excess

Tonight will see the opening of a new solo show by British artist, Phoebe Collings-James, at Mexico City’s Preteen gallery. Collings-James is a multidisciplinary artist who works across painting, sculpture and video. In this show, titled “Blood on the Leaves Blood on the Roots,” she explored issues of bodily excess and the most primal self through her chewing gum works. Dazed caught up with the artist to talk about her new work, as well as her recently launched feminist website, Cunt Today.

Dazed Digital: Can you tell us a bit about your work in the show?
Phoebe Collings-James: They’re very slovenly pieces. They were messy to make--I spent a lot of time chewing and spitting out gum and rubbing it around, eventually creating these small works that merge into their frames. You can see drips of sugar within the pieces. They’re pretty from afar, but really disgusting close up. Although they smell nice, and very strong. My favorite is the juicy fruit.

DD: At first glance, the works look more like paintings than gum.
Phoebe Collings-James: Yeah. I had been making these very fleshy, abstract paintings for a while, and these came afterward, so it sort of makes sense. Similarly to the paintings, I see these as being about the body--sex, mushiness, slobbishness, and physical excess were all reference points.

DD: You recently launched the website Cunt Today, a platform for feminist interaction and debate. Can you tell us about the idea behind it?
Phoebe Collings-James: Well, Cunt Today is a feminist website that collects relevant information and current news, alongside original content. My original idea was to create a space online for people to discuss feminist issues, that promotes action and awareness, but that doesn’t have a particular viewpoint on feminism behind it. I wanted the space to be a mix of opinions and knowledge. Basically, I realized that over the years my attitude toward feminism has changed many times, and quite dramatically. But I think that’s OK. I remember watching Germaine Greer speak once, and she was discussing how much knowledge we gain through experience, through changing our minds, and through being willing to change our minds. Essentially, as feminists, we’re all on the same page--we all want things to be better--but we might not always be 100% right, which is why it’s important to listen and learn, as well as talk. Her ideas really resonate with me, and are one of my inspirations behind creating the platform.