Ceramics Research Centre – UK

Past PhD Researcher: Philip Lee

Philip Lee lives in the UK and has been performing with clay since 2003. He has a BA in Ceramics from the University of Westminster (2001) and an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins (2007). Philip Lee is a performance artist whose essential material is his own naked body and earth materials. His work is the result of an obsessive investigation into the nature of bodies. Live performance is central to his work. His body is covered with clay and pigments, transforming it so that it hovers in a space between human and object. Venues for his work have included The Courtauld Institute, Matts Gallery, The Nunnery Gallery in Bow, South Hill Park, the Design Museum, and LAB New York. Recently, Philip Lee has performed at the ceramics and glass research conference at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland (April 2011) and the ceramics research conference of the British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent (October 2011).

Philip Lee is researching into live performances that involve the use of unfired clay. His own work forms part of the research, and analysis of the processes of planning, execution, collaboration and reflection provide ways to approach the analysis of other artists’ work, which in turn impacts on his own performances. There are a number of artists (Kazuo Shiraga, Jim Melchert, Satoru Hoshino, Miguel Barceló & Josef Nadj and others.) whose art practice draws on both material practice, normally associated with crafts such as ceramics, and the conceptual traditions of experiential, time-based live performance art. These artists do not appear to be part of any group or movement and have yet to be investigated rigorously, although some have been described as ‘conceptual ceramicists’. Philip Lee’s research explores how his own work and that of these artists contribute perspectives on live performance practice, including on collaboration, liveness, how to document and archive performance, and theoretical contexts. A current project and exhibition, Do You Remember It… Or Weren’t You There?,enquires into whether contemporary art made in response to a live performance can create in the viewer a sense of the liveness of the original performance. Can ekphrasis (the conjuring up of the essence of a work of art, by another artist, in another art form) convey a sense of what it was like to witness a live performance, and therefore have a memory of it?