Student prize winner Victoria Williams reflects on IBT17

Written by Victoria Williams

Victoria Williams winner of the IBT17 Student Prize from the University of The West of England

Experiencing IBT17 for five full days and nights, attending at least twenty-five talks, performances and conversations, I felt incredibly immersed in the event, like I had travelled out of my regular Bristol to another Bristol. At first it was a bit scary, amongst mostly unfamiliar faces at the symposium, but this feeling soon went away as I met Emily and Simon, swapping thoughts and feelings of excitement about the week ahead, learning about their practices and what performances they planned to see, all of us delighted with our Kim Noble prints!

I felt moved and motivated from the symposium, re-enforcing my resolve to continue my interdisciplinary artistic practice as a tool to challenge the current status quo but also high-light what connections and empathy exists among us. We cannot go back in time; we cannot unf**ck anything, but we can communicate, we can collectively take steps like James Leadbitter (J&J) in transforming Broadmoor with empathy; we can acknowledge climate change by preparing for disaster within communities, as with Refuge Arts House relief centre in Melbourne, we can use art to trust each other like Karim Sulayman in Central Park and to be honest with ourselves like Selina Thomson.

After seeing such a high concentration of performances, it has taken me some time to digest the festival, and I will probably still be doing so for a while, like a very full python. The performances that struck me the most, appealing to my interests in construction and fluidity of identity were Dickie Beau, Lost in Trans, Johnsmith Live: Whateverbeing and Rachel Clerke and Great White Males in Cuncrete. Fearless in pushing boundaries and themselves, the combination of live and electronic music and Beau’s brain-melting use of projections has left me with vigour to learn and understand more technical skills that I can employ with my interactive performances to create jaw-dropping little universes, not to be afraid to think big and challenge myself.

In Conversation with Lone Twin, Forced Entertainment and Residence highlighted the difficulties faced of existing as an artist and the importance of respect and belief within a collective. After graduating, I plan to stay in Bristol (I’m not finished with you yet!) and form a collective with friends and peers from my Fine Art degree to support each other and show the respect I feel for their work and excitement in possibilities of collaboration. As I lay, somewhat fragile and hungover, in the undergrowth of Arnos Vale faced with my own mortality (French and Mottershed), quite enjoying the whispered descriptions of my decomposing body, I thought about how art doesn’t just exist within the confines of a gallery or theatre stage, it is ubiquitous. By dragging art out of its exclusive white cubes, by making it accessible, inclusive and using it as a magnifying glass to bring to the forefront uncomfortable realities or hidden gems, we can make connections and conversations. I want my practice to involve community interaction, I want there to be Beastie’s everywhere, subverting suspicion and fear.

LOST in TRANS- Dickie Beau © Paul Blakemore