“I’m just gonna dance all night”: Will Hughes explores the intersections between club culture and queerness for “SpectRoom: Fluid Narratives”

Portrait of Will Hughes. Courtesy the artist.

Few months ago I collaborated with Will Hughes on the Queering Lockdown project, where we discussed curatorial strategies and online exhibitions and reflected on how the pandemic has been affecting the art world. Will’s practice explores the intersections between queer culture and pop culture, human feelings such as touch, belonging and seduction through the use of installation and sculptural objects. Music plays an integral role in their creative process.

Francesco Ferranti: Hey Will, can you please introduce yourself? Why did you decide to take part in Spectroom: Fluid Narratives”?

Will Hughes: My name is Will Hughes (They/Them) and I’m a non-binary visual artist who lives and works in Newcastle, a city in the North East of England. I wanted to take part because i do not believe in binaries, most things are a spectrum and through life we can move across spectrums to be the person we identify as at certain times in our lives.

Spectrum to me means living outside of that binary system, not putting yourself into one place, but choosing to be part of the many places, to see things from many points of view, and just live through a lot of different perspectives. So you’re not tied down to one spot. 

Francesco Ferranti: What did ignite your passion for art? What are your inspirations? 

Will Hughes:  I have always been interested in art but I think for me it’s always been a way of expressing who I am and working through the process of discovering who I am as an individual.

Francesco Ferranti: What does being non-binary mean to you?

Will Hughes: Non-binary means to me not being limited to a singular point, being able to straddle a spectrum. Finding yourself. It’s a long journey to accept that you live outside the social norm and finding other people who are like you really helps you understand who you are and validates you. Non-binary is a valid existence.

Francesco Ferranti: Which work have you selected for “SpectRoom: Fluid Narratives” and why?

Will Hughes: The work I have chosen to exhibit for this exhibition is a video documentation and music video titles ‘Everyday, Future, Waiting’ (2020). The video is an intimate view of the work from a voyeuristic point of view, the angles and crops pick up on small details such as the shine of the materials and the seduction of them. With double layering the moving image a scintillation occurs, this is mixed with the histories of the materials I have closed to use creating a queer, sci-fi club aesthetic. The intimacy of the club and human touch is something that is prevalent in the manufacturing of this installation, taking on the form here of a music video with a sound work I constructed over lockdown, using the bubbles of sparkling water and slow breathing to allude to the slowing down of time. 

Will Hughes, ‘Everyday, Future, Waiting‘ (2020). Video documentation. Courtesy the artist.

The other three works in the video are ‘I’m just gonna dance all night, I’m all messed up, I’m so outta line’ (2020) which is the kinetic sculpture which shakes from side to side and was influenced by my sweaty nights in a club swinging my sweat soaked hair around and is titled from ‘Dancing on my own’ by Robyn.

Will Hughes, ‘I’m just gonna dance all night, I’m all messed up, I’m so outta line’ (2020). Silver tinsel wigs, polystyrene, window wiper motor, conduit pipe. 150 x 57 x 24cm.
 Title taken from ‘Dancing on my own’ (2010) by Robyn. Courtesy the artist.

The second work ‘I’m not here for love tonight, The way you touch just don’t feel right’ (2019) depicts the things left behind on the floor after a night out earrings and straws, here elevated by the use of aluminium straws which elevate the work from the everyday. The title for this work was taken from Cyber Stockholm Syndrome by Rina Sawayama.

Will Hughes, ‘I’m not here for love tonight, The way you touch just don’t feel right’ (2019). Stainless steel Straws, ear ring, flame glasses lens, etc. Dimensions: Variable 
 Title taken from ‘Cyber Stockholm Syndrome’ (2017) by Rina Sawayama. Courtesy the artist.
Will Hughes ‘Every colour and every taste, Every breath that whispers your name’ (2020).  Flat screen TV, super sculpey clay, microcrystalline wax, 4mm brass rod. Dimensions: Variable. Title taken from ‘Honey’ (2019) by Robyn. Courtesy the artist.

Finally the last work ‘Every colour and every taste, Every breath that whispers your name’ (2020) depicts a pink flushing of the screen like a blush across the cheek with the hairs on the wall, some long and others cut short. The title for this work was taken from Honey by Robyn. The lyrics as titles help contextualise the works, giving the viewer the first clue in deciphering it.

Francesco Ferranti: What are your dreams and hopes for the future after Covid 19? 

Will Hughes: I have a residency in Austria at an artist run space called bb15 in September, so i really hope that can still go ahead as planned. Mostly I just want to continue to grow as a person and exhibit my work more widely. My Masters Degree finishes in May so I’m mainly hoping to be able to find a job and make some money so I can continue my practice, I have a few projects in a very early stage so fingers crossed they lead to something.

Francesco Ferranti: Are you currently working on some new projects?

Will Hughes:  Mainly I’m just working towards my degree show at the moment which will take place mid to late may at Baltic 39 in Newcastle. After that I’m currently working on a new body of work for bb15 which is based on the theme of Art and Magic, relating to touch and glamour. For this project I’m working on a new kinetic work as well as some static sculptures as well.

Support Will’s checking out their websiteInstagram

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