Studio intro

A photograph of a monitor between two curtains. The monitor is positioned in the centre of the image on a brown block in front of a window with bars on it. On the monitor’s screen is a close-up of a blonde woman. Two white curtains are positioned either side of the monitor. The wall behind the two curtains is pink. In the centre top of the image are silver balloons which spell out the words ‘STAY SICK’.
Laura Lulika, An Ode to Marge (or how i taught myself to speak again by watching the real housewives), 2018 (installation photo) Image courtesy of the artist. Credit: Judy Landkammer

Hi, I’m Laura Lulika, thanks for stopping by at my virtual studio. I’m an artist, researcher and community cultural worker with a focus on unconventional care methods and community support networks. I am interested in how we experience our bodies and how we care for ourselves and each other.

I have spent most of my time recently delivering workshops and talks on care and accessibility, working with the collective and peer support group, Sickness Affinity Group, and being a new parent.

This residency has given me the timely opportunity to return to my own personal practice and reflect on interests and curiosities that I have yet to explore. In my own experience of being housebound, which started long before the pandemic, I became interested in the culture we

consume in isolation and how that impacts our sense of self. During this residency I am going to dissect the cultural fascination with ‘hyper-able’ bodies, in sports, cartoons and popular culture. The obsession with body limits is simultaneously jarring and relatable to my personal experiences of having an unreliable body. Sick and disabled bodies are commonly perceived as ‘unhealthy’, something to be cured rather than cared for.

And at the same time, we are often pushed to perform feats of ability to be deemed worthy by capitalism. I have gently titled this project, ‘Body Builder’, in reference to my deceased Dad who was a body builder and where I think I can mark the beginning of my own awareness of hyper-able bodies.

This research will inform some playful explorations into how I have consumed, digested, absorbed, adopted or rejected these performative tropes and characteristics.

Please feel free to look around the studio and leave comments and questions in the comments section if you want to.

Hope you find something that speaks to you,

Laura Lulika

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Break Time… in resistance of professional hyperability

A meme of a huge muscly videogame monster from the videogame Diablo. The monster has rams horns on it's head and a bald round head with spiky slimy teeth and tusks coming out of the sides of it's open mouth. It's wearing some kind of tight leather wrestler style unitard and it#s holding a staff in it's right hand made of bones with a ram's head on top, in the left hand there is a scithe made of a horn and a metal chain wrapped around the arm. The monster's skin is covered in bulging muscles and veins, there are cuts across it's body with large metal staples in them. The skin is greyish yellow. There is a fiery glow around the monster and a silhouette of a creatur'es body barely visible hanging upsidedown on the top left. Overlaid is some white text with a red glow around it that says 'YES I TAKE MY VIDEO ART VERY SERIOUSLY... THAT'S WHY I POST IT ON...' Below that is the 'Vimeo' logo in blue and on the bottom left is a Vimeo Staff Pick logo which is a black circle with a white leaf wreath border and the text in the middle 'vimeo STAFF PICK', it has been edited so that it is distorted and wavy.
I’m a professional video artist and my favourite videogame is Diablo.

I have really enjoyed occupying this digital studio space and having a dedicated period of time working on a single project. The support from vital Capacities and Film London has been amazing and I am excited to develop all of my research and tests into something to present as part of the exhibition later this month.

I am battling my own internal ableist voices which are telling me that I could have done MORE, posted more, worked more.. I have been resisting the urge to be professionally hyperable.. (yuck). And in many ways I have failed because I am exhausted.

So now it’s breaktime! If anyone needs me I’ll be in a static caravan on the Yorkshire coast for the week and you can speak to my out-of-office autoresponse until then.

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Body Builder – costume test and music teaser

An improvised film test of the muscle costume and PE kit made for me by Max Allen with a new song that I’m making with Hang Linton. A million points to anyone who can figure out where the sample in the song is from or who it is.. I just tried out some different poses and gestures from my research, some different lighting and filmed it on a phone on my studio bed.

Visual Description: I’m wearing a sheer mesh muscle suit, long sleeved top and trousers, and a shiny blonde mullet wig, my own naked body is visible underneath. I am washed in orange light, stood on a white platform in a white room with a dark coloured floor. I pose and flex like a body builder and pull strained open mouthed faces. I am wearing a footy tabard over the top of the muscle suit, it has ‘FORGOT ME PE KIT’ and ‘Ladette’ written on it, it’s blue and red. I’m washed in a bright green light. I lift a footy banner or scarf that says ‘BUGGER OFF’ on it, it has tassles hanging from it, I’m swaying from side to side, I drop it to the floor and direct my right arm out to the side as if declaring something. I am back to wearing just the muscle suit and wig, this time washed in a gentle blue light and lying down on the bed, flexing and posing and pulling strained open mouthed faces.

Audio Description: An electronic bassline track that sounds a little bit like Prodigy with some trip-hop spacey tones thrown in. It features a repeated sample of a middle aged person with a strong accent that is probably from Essex or the East End of London saying in an irritated voice, ‘A loada rubbish, them lot up in the Houses of Parliament, terrible’.

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Lulikenstein’s Mascot Monster Bodies

A faint grass background with a creature diving in the foreground, their body made up of several mascot limbs, a yellow angry looking cartoonesque sunburst face, a raised right arm or wing of an eagle mascot, brown with black feather and a white gloved hand, the left arm, also raised, is a green glistening wrist and hand poking out of a brown long sleeve, the face melts down into the body, grey fur with a white fur belly oval, the left leg has blue shorts with a small logo, a yellow leg, white sports socks and black and a red puffy mascot nike trainer, the right is a thick beige fur trunk with a huge bright blue hoof. The legs are bent and arched backwards.

This is an experiment into creating my own hybrid Frankenstein mascot monster bodies in footy diving positions. I would love to do this with irl second hand mascot bodies one day for an installation, taking a few apart and sewing bits back together, so it’s cool to be able to do some digital mock-ups and think about how I can use them sculpturally in an online exhibition to accompany the video work. I’m thinking about some t-shirts one day maybe too. I’m looking forward to developing this idea and creating more of these.

This was created with A LOT of help from Hang Linton and their stellar photoshop skills.

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Forgot Me P.E Kit

I’ve been working on a costume with fashion designer, Max Allen, who is a school friend that I’ve known for yonks (since we were teens). The idea was to create something that combined the joke shop fancy dress muscle suits with the saggy and misshapen elements that mascot costumes have, as well as playing with sports kits. (See Research space for inspo images).

A split-screen image of two headless torso mannequins adorned with fleshy mesh-like skin. The left mannequin has the same perspective as a changing room mirror and bulging muscles made of fabric. The right mannequin is posing for its birthday snap beneath a striped red and white banner that says "bugger off" in all caps. Multicoloured tassels hang from the centre of the banner and the mannequin is wearing a red bib that has a neon orange football with hard sports written above.
Continue reading “Forgot Me P.E Kit”

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An experiment pairing The Champs cover song with a collection of footy dives and drama.

I like the choreographic elements and the theatrical performance of pain and sickness, even though the intention behind it annoys me, as does the amount all of these players are paid.

Next, I want to find a way to integrate a visual description. I tried doing a version of The Champs song as the visual description but it didn’t work because not all of the words were clear in that ‘style’ of singing so I’m going to try another way using a pundit or commentator style recording.

I also want to take into account the attention capacity of viewers and the fast choppy pace of this video could take up more energy than it needs to. I edited it to the length of the song for now but I think it could be shorter. I want to focus much more closely on the gestures present during these performative moments and find ways to slow them down without completely abstracting them.

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It’s coming home… (my review of the Euros opening ceremony)

An image with a white background, black text in a block on the top left and bottom right. Top right is a small image of a virtual performance at the opening of the Euros football league. Performed in a black virtual stadium filled with blue twinkly lights, on a stage are two real human performers, one is a man holding a guitar wearing all black on the left and on the right a man wearing all black playing a piano. Floating above them is the large blue cgi head of Bono, the lead singer of the band u2, he is wearing glasses and his head is made up of small dotty drifting blue and white lights. Bottom left is another blue cgi image of a large group of people stood in rows in the stadium, their are bright stadium lights shining around them, they are all wearing black trousers and baggy tshirts that have a symbol on them of a heart with a cross inside. They looks like some kind of cult. The text reads:  In a week when sculpted spam legs run out onto the field in polyester shorts and socks pulled high exchange nervous glances.
When Ronaldo switched coke for water and reminded us once again how valuable these sporting bodies really are.
And the pundit described the socially distanced fever dream flag balloon opening ceremony as 'solemn but celebratory' while an army of blue people with crosses on their tshirts slowly disappeared one by one off our screens like an apocalyptic mass exodus to another planet. When the silver surfer twisted and turned above the pitch to the soundtrack of bono's giant cgi bonce floating above it like an evil spirit, like Casper the friendly ghost's cringelord Dad, our 'post pandemic' overseer, singing 'We are the People', whatever the fuck that means. I thought, it's no wonder I've got a fucking migraine BUT At least football might be coming home and at least it wasn't A Beautiful fucking Day.

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The Champs Vol I

I love the Champions League anthem theme song because it’s so pompous and dramatic in every way, for something that is, well, just footy. If you haven’t heard the original, you can listen to it here. I decided to do a cover to hopefully develop into a soundtrack for a video with some of my own lyrics later. I made it with my partner, carer and collaborator, Hang Linton.

My cover of The Champions.

Image Description for track video: The video has a still image of a football foul on a very green pitch involving two players. The player on the left is wearing a dark blue kit, he is on his hands and knees bent forward, his back arched and his head looking slightly to the left towards the other player on the right of the image. The player on the right is wearing a white kit, he is balanced on his right knee and right hand, the rest of his body is arching backwards, as if twisting and falling. His eyes are closed and his mouth open as though he is in some pain. On both sides of the image is a border created from the The Champions League logo which is a black and white football where the black sections are stars. They are stacked on top of each other to create a border either side of the photo.

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Someone wearing an unofficial teletubbies costume of the character Po, who is a large round red alien looking type creature with big ears and a circular antennae coming out the top of it's head and a blue square on it's tummy. They are standing at the bottom of a set of stairs in a white hallway. The costume is saggy and mishapen and the face is slightly menacing with wide eyes and a smile. The image has been edited to accentuate the sagginess with a slight swirling all over the costume. White text with a black background in two arches says 'feelin more oddy-body than body-ody'
Po from the Tellytubbies

A long-term enthusiasm of mine is mascot costumes. I have a collection of images on my laptop and phone of my favourites. I especially like Tweety for reasons I will explain in a later post.

Two costumes hung on stands, one is of Sylvester the cat and the other is Tweety Bird. Sylvester is a black cat with white feet, hands, stomach and cheeks. Tweety is yellow all over with an orange beak and big black eyelashes. They are hung in a small fabric cubicle, the fabric is cream coloured. They look creepy and awkward with no human bodies inside them to fill them out. At the top of the image is some white text with a black background which says 'when you both feel more oddy-body than body-ody'
Sylvester and Tweety Bird from Looney Tunes
Continue reading “Oddy-Body”

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Interview with resident artist Laura Lulika

Jamie Wyld (Vital Capacities’ director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you’re thinking about doing during the residency?

Thanks for inviting me. I am a sick and disabled artist, researcher and community cultural worker. My practice challenges the preconceptions of what it is to be sick and disabled. It acts as a reminder that sick and disabled bodies are actively political even in states of what might look like physical inactivity to someone who is able. In reality, ‘resting’ isn’t really rest if you don’t have a choice.

Continue reading “Interview with resident artist Laura Lulika”

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