The Tetley presents a digital showcase of new moving image works by KP Culver. These emerge from Culver's participation in Tetley's Associate Artists' Programme (TAAP). As part of this body of work, you can also see a set of print editions in our shop.
K.P Culver (b. 1992) works in a range of mediums that include performance, text, video, and sculpture. Culver explores how we inhabit or pass through spaces formed from social codes and histories. From these departures of shared experiences, Culver uses a sense of playfulness and questioning to engage the viewer and welcome collaboration.
Ask KP Culver questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by 9am on the 30th of January. We'll upload a Q&A on the 31st of January.
Works are best viewed full screen, so follow links through to YouTube.
The Office Choir, KP Culver, moving image (2020).
Music produced by Matthew Broadley.
Audio/Music description note: Repetitive and melancholic music is played through the duration of the film. Starts with simple Piano introduction, developed piano plays with additional instruments then fades out with solo guitar.
Bringing together text, performance, and music, Culver focuses on how karaoke sits within office and popular culture. As an activity that often happens with colleagues, karaoke can enforce further relational tension or unison of workplace politics.
The text is activated with a change of colour; in karaoke, this gives the performer cues for the words, alongside how and when to sing them. However here, the idea of instruction and performance becomes disrupted. The words focus on the monotony of work and emotional labour. Blue Monday is given to the third Monday in January, as a day most likely for employees to call in sick.
Fly With Me, KP Culver, moving image (2020).
Audio/Music description note: Slow and metallic audio plays, intercepted by silence when text is shown.
Prolonging the moment of daydreaming, which takes us on the periphery of spaces. Here, the words are interruptions to idle thought, bringing you back down to reality.
Throwing a paper plane is a disruptive but childlike action, which is slowed down and lingers in the air as an invitation to follow it.
Set of Two Prints:
Available in The Tetley Shop
Can you talk about the starting point for this work?
I had already been creating work around office spaces before I started making the videos. At the beginning of 2020, I was working with a wonderful dancer (Alessandra Cali) and focusing on live performance but of course with the pandemic that had to be put on hold. The next step for us would have been to test performances to camera, so the idea of film was already in my head somewhere.
Even with the removal of a physical office, the language and co-worker dynamics continued and crossed over into people's domestic space, in a way it brought things forward about that space that I had been trying to deal with over the last few years.
I kept thinking about Blue Monday being a specific day in the year, which I wasn't aware of until I had started working as a receptionist for a large company after graduating from University. Every year since it seems to gain more attraction and if you research it, apparently this was started by a company as a marketing strategy to get people booking holidays in January. To me it just summed up so much irony, so that became my anchor for both the works.
How do these works link with your current practice at the Creative Campus at University Centre Leeds (Leeds City College)?
There is some crossover, with my residency I am more concerned about working with the students and focusing on what their experience of college is. It's a lot more collaborative and centred around pedagogy but the idea of what it means to occupy a space and the relationships or interactions within it are present. I am very thankful to have their support through such a difficult time and the students are amazing to work with.
Can you talk about the process you use to create the writing within the works?
Between March and September I was mainly writing as that seemed like the best place to focus my practice, even if it was just a line a week but I have so much from over the last few years that it came together fairly quickly. When I started to think about creating something publicly through TAAP, I was wondering how I could get the texts to become less static.
For 'The Office Choir' I was thinking about the repetition of the week and song structure. I knew I wanted to play on karaoke because it is very performative and holds so much energy and tension. I came up with a melody and worked out how the words would fit then my partner (Matthew Broadley) who is a musician brought it to life for me.
'Fly With Me' was almost the opposite way round, I wanted the text to cut and interrupt what was going on. The energy for this one is much lower, I didn't want to fill it with as many words. They are there to bring your attention back down to the screen and your surroundings.
Which is your go-to Karaoke song?
Believe by Cher.
Do you think this year's past experience of Covid-19 may have changed how we view 'The Office Choir'? If so, how?
It brings up lots of questions about work and labour that we can all recognise, even if you don't have an office job. There's almost this sense of nostalgia to be back in the office but I think that's more to do with human interaction because it is social, you are sharing this space with your colleagues and it's where you spend most of your week. Last year highlighted a lot of problems but I hope the video brought some sense of unity or relief.