Hurakan Caress

Joseph Funnell & Carlos Maria Romero (aka Atabey Mamasita)

An artistic research project

Cell Project Space presents Hurakan Caress, an artistic research project by London-based artists Joseph Funnell (UK/Jamaica) & Carlos Maria Romero aka Atabey Mamasita (Colombia) developed during a period residency as part of Cellular, an experimental Live Art and Media-based programme. Comprising a series of movement workshops delivered by zoom and an online pedagogical resource on Cell’s website, Funnell and Maria Romero’s new body of work pulls from the legacies of marginalized bodies and queer communities in creating emancipatory technologies of pleasure. 
Responding the condition of isolation brought forward by the onset of Covid-19, Funnell and Maria Romero began working together to develop a collaborative movement practice. Facilitated by the use of their phones and over zoom, the artists utilised lens-based tools to exchange intimate moments of dancing in the presence of mutual absence. Central to this practice is the use of Caribbean Rhythm to explore ideas of personal sensuality. Influenced by the generative beats of Dancehall, Dembow and Reggaeton, the artists sought to unlock the queer and feminist potential within these music genres to pursue “a desire for living a life of self-sustained joy, taking pleasure in pleasure itself.”
Extending from this research and experience, Hurakan Caress (2020) comprises a series of movement experiments explored with participants as part of a series of workshops entitled A caress that is a grind that is a ripple that is a surge that is an embrace that is a swell that is a tidal archipelago of our shared horizons of our collective will, as well as an accompanying online pedagogical resource that brings together a selection of videos, images, sound and text that give insight into Funnell and Maria Romero’s artistic and somatic research. 
A key experiment explored by the artists during their residency was the use of a body camera; a process that has resulted in a series of five essay-style videos that are framed and punctuated by conversational title cards holding soundtracks that are only audible to the artists while dancing. Seeking to subvert the body camera’s gaze over the bodies that it is normally pointed against, the artists use and misuse the camera beyond its original purpose and function, reclaiming it to become a witness to moments of care, love and attention. 
Twerking, grinding, body shaking and sensual and self-touching are here presented without the sounds that provoke the movements nor at times the full visibility of the bodies that perform them. By allowing themselves, a trusted friend or their very bodies to hold the camera and adjust its field of vision, the artists consider what it might mean to seek agency in the act of ‘being captured’, re-training the device to look away and besides the body, as well as to become proximate and intimate to the point of obfuscating comfortable viewing. 
Within these reversed encounters, the artists seek to explore “the way we want to be treated, the way we deserve to be looked at, be cared for, respected, protected and appreciated.” This affirmative practice will be continued through a series of three online workshops developed with seven selected participants via an open call aimed to empower and build community within the queer Caribbean diaspora. As an extension of the pedagogical resource made available to the public, the artists and participants will explore the power of dance, feeling sexy and feeling yourself as practices of self-care and resistance.
Joseph Funnell is an interdisciplinary artist, dancer and activist of Afro-Caribbean and British descent. Working with movement, text, images and film their research-based practice considers the emancipatory potential of performing agency within contexts of historic negation. They have presented solo performance work at: Steakhouse Live, Slow Sunday, 2020; Slap Festival 2020; The Albany, London, 2019; CLAY, Leeds, 2019; and Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, 2018. As a dancer, Joseph has also collaborated with and performed for artists, including Adham Faramawy (Tate Britain, Somerset house, London Science Museum), Alex Baczynski-Jenkins (Whitechapel Galley, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam), Pan Daijing (Tate Modern), and Ula Sickle (Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw).
Carlos Maria Romero aka Atabey Mamasita (Barranquilla, 1979), is a Colombian Caribbean multidisciplinary artist whose practice concentrates on embodied, edifying, caring, pleasurable technologies and strategies of reclamation and resistance to hegemonic and historical violence and dereliction. They work with dance, performance, visual arts, pedagogy, activism, cultural engineering and occasionally music and curating. Maria Romero developed in 2016 Vogue-Chi, a movement practice for people aged 50+ that evolved into a multi-generational queer and allies safe space for self-expression; in 2018 A House of Ecstatic Virality, a dance and conversation practice, in collaboration with Latinx and Polish volunteers, creating a life affirming environment for people to explore HIV related issues; and in 2019 Like a Ghost Dance/The Heartbeat Spiral, a dance meditation to harness constructive aspects of the dying process. They are also a founding member of SPIT! - Sodomites, Perverts, Inverts Together!, who has taken on the legacy of queer manifestos to respond to contemporary pressing issues of sexual and gender oppression; and Vividero Colectivo, whose projects seek to reclaim marginalised social practices and architectural sites as cultural heritage. 
Hurakan Caress has been developed by Carlos Maria Romero & Joseph Funnell during the months of August and October, 2020. Commissioned and produced by Cell Project Space as part of Cellular, made possible with the generous support of an Emergency Grant by Arts Council England. With thanks to Metro Charity for funding the initial research and development; Adelaide Bannerman and Phytology, Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, for hosting audiovisual research; Dan Ward, Tommie Introna and Blackshuck for the video and audio editing; and Mirko Joao-Pedro, No Harmony, for the design work.
Launched in June 2020, Cellular is a new experimental Live Art and Media-based programme comprising a multi-purpose ground floor event space at Cell Project Space and an online platform on Cell’s website. Originally conceived to run alongside the exhibitions programme at the gallery, Cellular launches six pilot commissions of on-site and digital works to be delivered with and without physical audiences between June - December 2020. To find out more, please click here.