work(s) in process

DYCP & A-N Bursary

In July 2023 zack was awarded an A-N Bursary to undertake a period of self-determined professional development. These funds have afforded zack a focused period of learning to develop their film negatives and darkroom printing skills through Photofusion. Whilst learning historic photochemical & printing processes to further my practice moving into new projects.

Following this zack was awarded an Art’s Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Grant which will allow them to undertake three months of professional development focussing on their photographic practice. During this period zack will attend further training with Photofusion and Lakeside Affordable Darkroom alongside one-to-one mentoring from three artists working with photographic processes.
“I am a restless cross-disciplinary artist. Through a process-driven, hybrid, and rhizomatic practice I experiment, play seriously, deviate, fail, pull-apart, create ephemeral images, attempt to disrupt the gaze, build fluid bridges, (un)tangle, imagine, remember, trace, seek more questions, touch the (un)known, (day)dream...alone and with others.”

Fenia is a wild experimenter in photographic development and printing practices. Working across analogue and digital media, Fenia documents live performance works and crafts video works that entangle with place, community, and ecology.

zack will spend time with Fenia in Lincoln and London playing with alternative analogue photographic processes such as ecologically minded plant-based developers, bioplastics, cyanotypes, anthotypes, and chromatography.

James Holcombe is a filmmaker with decades of experience in photochemical film production.  James previously managed the photochemical lab resources at in Bethnal Green, East London. erehwon is a micro-film laboratory based in Frome, Somerset.

zack will spend time with James to learn skills to work with analogue moving image. This may lead to new avenues of performance documentation, and the creation of new video works.

zack began to marry video with their analogue photographic practices at the beginning of their work on (para)site by making experimental 16mm film down river, down 2022 (above), made with support from not/nowhere.

Manuel explores photography as a philosophical prism through which to engage with others, reflect on the self and expand the imaginal. In particular, he considers the act of photographing as a durational performance of focusing attention and as an exercise of connection with the unfamiliar.

Building from Manuel’s projects The PhotoPerformer and Unframing Photography, zack will explore new avenues of incorporating their photographic practice into their performance works. This period of exploration will seek new routes into making primarily photographic works also whilst foregrounding their frequent working role in other’s works as a photo documenter.

How can one self-document a solo performance as a performative action that doesn’t break the world crafted through the work?

(para)site (ongoing)

(para)site: consequences
zack will be presenting an interactive performance for Performance Studies International Conference PSi #29 - Assemble! in June 2024 at Central School of Speech and Drama.

Using the surrealist method of the exquisite corpse as a jumping-off point, (para)site: consequences is a drop-in collaborative space and temporary installation aiming to explore, challenge and disassemble conventional boundaries by focusing on themes such as health, welfare, disability, queerness, institutionalisation, addiction, and class through the mediums of ecology, landscape, personal archive, and found materials.

zack has begun to work with sculpting and carving Thames-foraged chalk into forms. They are currently creating a chalk smoking pipe, chalk beer bottles, and hope to make a chalk diaper within the next year.
zack continues to experiment with embroidery and diapers, crafting works of text(ile). They will begin playing with foraged thread and plastics mudlarked from the Thames foreshore. The first text(ile) work was displayed alongside the (para)site 2022 video work at the Addiction Recovery Arts Network Conference 2023 in Liverpool Hope University.

Visions of Madness 2023 – Ongoing

zack was one of the participants of Change Minds in spring 2023, organised by the Bethlem Gallery and Museum of the Mind. They collaborated with a diverse group of other service users within the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. The group’s collective aim delved into the stories of previous patients at Bethlem Hospital. Using the Victorian casebook entries as a starting point and conducting further research into the lives of their selected patient through other records and creative interpretation. zack is crafting further artworks and formulating a larger engagement project that draws from this archival work, utilizing photography and writing to give voice to those whose voices are often disregarded and disappeared.

The use of herringbone tape with blue, red, and white stitching in this collage is rooted in the strong dresses that were used in Victorian Asylums and in Bethlem. The frilled collar of a strong dress worn by zack’s selected Victorian patient, Jessie Speaight, can be seen on the left below. A regular and more commonly known article of strong clothing is the straight jacket, and while these were more commonly still in use at county asylums, Bethlem preferred the use of more “humane” strong dresses in this period. During Change Minds, zack was able to access and handle the strong clothing within the Bethlem Archive. Upon viewing the strong clothing zack was struck by their materiality as well as the sense of barbarism that emanates from such objects. To zack, the only difference between the strong dresses and a straightjacket was how pretty they could outwardly appear, with the Bethlem dresses being made to a higher quality with striped rather than plain white canvas and coloured thread around the hems. This perception of making pretty or disguising violence is something zack noted and became a focal point in the work below.

Digital scans of collage by zack mennell. Reproduction of archival image belongs to Bethlem Museum & Archive.

The product of  2023 – Ongoing

The product of is a collaborative performance/installation project by zack mennell and leon clowes. It draws on official and personal documents, photos, objects, words, and sounds to evoke concealed and distorted situations and navigates memory, loss, and rage through script, action, and audience engagement and examines horror, humour, and humanity within unpalatable truths, seeking a nuanced exchange about traumatic circumstances. Recently, they were awarded a Seeding Space bursary by London Performance Studios. This granted them a focused week of studio time to develop materials and performance actions, along with fundraising training from Cause4.

Photo Works

Bottom row - analogue collages of archival photo prints. All photos by zack mennell.

zack has taken analogue photos since they were 16 when they were gifted a second-hand plastic toy camera. zack works with their archive of images from their everyday life to create collages that shift reality, question the physics of the world, and explore notions of visible reality - they are obessed with portals, error, aberration, and double exposures. zack has begun developing their own film to generate darkroom prints and have greater control over their materials and outcomes - this development has been generously supported with A-N Bursary funds and training from Photofusion darkroom.

Martin O’Brien Photographic Installation

zack is creating new photographs of Martin O’Brien taken outside of the gallery space that explores more centrally the care and control dynamics of their working relationship. The photographs aim to illustrate  the intricate dynamics found in all collaborative artistic creations. They question the delicate balance and interplay between visibility and invisibility, central and peripheral, dominance and submission, while probing the distinctions between performing for an audience and to camera, fine art photography and polaroid snapshots, controlled gallery space and the unpredictable outdoor environment, performance and its documentation. An installation of new photos, polaroids from performances, and performance ephemera will be shown once funding is secured.

All photos by zack mennell