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Arvida Bystrom

This new zine takes art out of its comfort zone

Eleanor Hardwick just co-curated this 25-artist strong zine on metamorphosing

Former Flickr princess, Rookie clan member and self-proclaimed multimedia dreamer Eleanor Hardwick's at it again, co-curating the upcoming zine Shapeshifting alongside Olvia Aylmer. Metamorphosing art is the name of the game in this 25-artist strong, self-published feast for the eyes with a dose of music on the side at next Thursday's launch event. Featuring works from Dazed favourites Arvida Bystrom, Girls Get Busy and Petite Meller, we caught up with Eleanor to find out more about taking art out of its comfort zone, rejecting pigeonholes and putting verbs over nouns.

Why did you choose the theme shapeshifting?

Eleanor Hardwick: The concept goes back to looking at human's close relationship to cycles of the elements, we can take lead from these natural changes in the state of matter and apply it to deconstructing gender, focusing not on the solid forms at the start and end, but the inbetween unknown; letting ourselves not be defined as nouns, but as verbs. 

Olivia and I wanted to see how this concept could be interpreted by other artists of different mediums and decided to make the zine. I think it's a fascinating theme as it can be applied to so much; about trying to constantly re-evaluate yourself and not allow yourself to be categorised. I think it's something that every artist subconsciously thinks about.

How does that tie in with the performance element of the launch?

Eleanor Hardwick: It actually all started with the piece that I'll be performing with my band Moonbow. We have more of a performance art setup (combining sound with visuals, set design, choreography and osmology), and the title for our performance for the night is "Evaporation/Equilibrium." The idea is that the music, set design and visuals starts as water, which is a feminine element in tarot, and feels like it slowly evaporates into air throughout, which is a masculine element in tarot. The scent and liquid we spray everywhere during the performance also slowly evaporates and transforms. I'll also be performing back-to-back with my boyfriend's band, Cardinal Fang, who will be doing a conceptual sound-based performance on the same theme of shapeshifting.

What's your favourite feature from Shapeshifting?

Eleanor Hardwick: That's hard! I do love Emma Daman Thomas (of Welsh band ISLET)'s written piece "How To Be A Wife And Mother In An Avant Garde Rock Band" as it really embodies this idea of breaking rules, which is the idea of shapeshifting. Petite Meller's mini essay on Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of multiplicity is also really fascinating; I love her talent to apply such complex concepts to really fun music. There's also a beautiful poem by Kate Giritlian, which describes various actions taking place, but does not define the nouns that do these actions. I really like how it feels like the story can be applied to the reader's own self and vision.

Tell us a bit more about the exhibition with Ben Giles and how that ties in with the zine.

Eleanor Hardwick: Ben's going to do a collage installation called Metamorphosis at the event that's pretty closely linked with the work he has in the zine too. Mirren Kessling (who also did my band's visuals) will be showing some short films on the theme too.

Shapeshifting launches Thursday May 29 at Freud, Jericho in Oxford. Limited first editions of the zine will be on sale at the event with one-off handmade covers by Eleanor, with the next edition available online.

Full list of Shapeshifting contributors:

Arvida Byström, Becca Thornton, Ben Giles, Beth Siveyer (Girls Get Busy), Cardinal Fang, Celia Edell, Charlotte Sykes, Digby Taylor, Eleanor Hardwick (Moonbow), Emma Daman Thomas (Islet), Greta Bellamacina, Kamal Rasool (Flamingods), Katie Giritlian, Laura Makabresku, Lauren O’Neill, Lauren Poor, Mike and Claire, Mirren Kessling, Moonbow, Olivia Bee, Petite Meller, Rachel Louise Hodgson, Rosalind Jana, Saga Sig, Shriya Samavai and Tallulah Fontaine.