Throwback Thoughts From Me For You

For the last 111 days I’ve been presenting my poorly and ill-informed advice and thoughts to good people around the the inter-web people in a person quest to dominate nothing. And it’s been great…


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How do we decide who we are?

Hetain Patel makes films, sculptures, photographs and live performances.

Still from Stupid Fruits

What does the word ‘identity’ mean to you?

Its something about who we are. There are endless elements that make up our identities, and out of these it’s often a complex mix between those that are put onto us by others, and those that we self-impose. I’m interested in both observation of identity, and in finding ways for us to create our own.

Can you give us a peek into an average day for you (if there is such a thing)?

There isn’t really an average day in my work but the thing I sadly do most is sitting at my laptop! Doing admin, writing emails, making funding applications, marketing, researching ideas and so on. However I can’t complain as some days also include being on a grand film set directing a Kung Fu movie, or visiting amazing collaborators’ studios as they create a new costume or piece of music for my work. I also go through phases of travelling a lot to launch exhibitions, tour performances, giving talks, all over the world including America, China, Australia, Mexico, to name a few. As I work for myself and predominantly from home, the biggest challenge is actually to stop and take a break.

When did you first realise you could be funny in art?

To be honest it was something I was scared of for a long time, something I would repress for fear of not being taken seriously. But then after I made my first works that could be considered funny (To Dance Like Your Dad, and TEN, both 2009), they connected with audiences way beyond what I imagined they could. I realised that to create my best work, I needed to free myself from what I thought was expected of me.

What comes first — the idea or the collaborators?

Usually the idea, though sometimes the collaborator is the idea. I think the collaborator can also come first if I’ve worked with them before and the process opened up more to mine. For example I worked recently on a new short film, Don’t Look at the Finger, with dancer Victoria Shulungu for the first time. After such an incredible experience with her, I already know I want to work with her for my next major project even before I know what that is.

Can you tell us about the films produced for 1215 Today?

If you weren’t making art, what would you be doing?

I think I’d be cooking more — I’m always addicted to Masterchef when its on the telly. I think layered processes and manual labour are quite a big part of my work so I think they’d transfer quite well to cooking!


Want more?

You can watch Hetain’s new films on YouTube.

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