10 Questions with Artist and Filmmaker Rhea Dillon
More often than not, on-screen depictions of queer Britain are barricaded within the four walls of a nightclub. Think back to Queer as Folk, the late night queer universe from the mind of Russell T. Davies. Seminal when it debuted in 1999 – hurdling gay love, sex and grief down Manchester’s Canal Street and into living rooms across the nation – now plagued with the sense of feeling out of date. We can no longer detour queer representation in wasteful directions. Oiled bare chests, cheeky mojitos and hyper-sexualised ménage-a-trois nightclub snog fests are not enough to depict a whole community. LGBTQ+ representation today must break archaic boundaries, stand on them, and smash them into tiny little pieces.
That’s where Rhea Dillon comes in. Her dual screen, scent enchanted video installation, The Name I Call Myself, is a total antithesis of the overblown, sex-crazed night club scenes that have dominated our screens. Running fifteen minutes long, TNICM takes a deeply considered, documentary-style approach in exploring queer black British identities. Thoughtful, honest, intimate: the film makes a salient point of letting the people depicted in the film be the author of their own narratives, offering a peep into the lives of queer folk that have atypically been outcast from the mainstream conversation.
The anticipatory level of excitement around Dillon is yet to draw to a holt. Once an intern of Ten Towers, she is a current climber on the Dazed 100 list. The artist already has her sights set on her next project, Guerrilla, where she emancipates slave imagery that was once riddled with hatred and oppression, into new celebratory graphics. We caught up with the artist to ask her a bunch of questions about all sorts, really.
Paul Toner : You’ve had an amazing year – what was your personal highlight?
Rhea Dillon: Thank you – going to LA I’d say: making Black Angel, gaining an amazing family of friends and seeing the art scene out there was all the most precious thing to me. But when I graduate this year that will be the cherry on the cake!
PT: How would you describe your practice in 3 words?
RD: Spiritual, subverting and subconscious
PT: What’s the best thing about living in London right now?
RD: London is the most connected city in the world. You can go anywhere you want to via public transport if you have the means and that’s really rare compared to places where you need a car to get to A or B. It means that it is a city where you can reside or expand as much as you want – it’s really down to you.
PT: What’s the last thing you do before going to bed?
RD: Read a poem, or something from my friends like Wilson’s WAIT or Helene Kleih’s Him+His. These two books always come with me on trips.
PT: Who do you find most inspiring?
RD: Adrian Piper – she’s a badass everyone should aspire to be.
PT: What Marvel superhero do you relate to the most?
PT: Best hangover cure?
RD: I don’t get them too tough so either party on or honey, lemon and ginger tend to cure all ails.
PT: If you could get a private concert from any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
RD: Julius Eastman
PT: What do you wish to change in the world in the next year?
RD: I wish we could slow down to appreciate more.
PT: What’s the one film everyone has to watch before they die?
RD: That’s a really hard question for me to choose just one so I’ll go with a few – Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, the Message Is Death.
Rhea Dillon’s GUERRILLA t-shirts are available at limited capacity, with proceeds going to Kai and Naeem’s top surgery fund – email firstname.lastname@example.org for size enquiry.