A conversation with artists Youssef Hu and Mitra Saboury the night of the show opening Young Gods, simultaneously at both Griffin Gallery and Charlie Smith Gallery London. Both recent graduates, they were selected by ‘god maker’ curator Zavier Ellis during their degree shows. Ellis’s magic touch is renowned, with his artists often going onto work with larger, more mainstream galleries or ending up in the Saatchi collection.
We quiz Ellis a little about this, while Hu discusses his philosophies, his arduous and unforgettable performances (pictured and described below) and how a Taiwanese boy ends up with an Arabic name. Saboury on the other hand discusses her intimate work with architecture and how this is informed by her American-Iranian upbringing.
The performances that Hu has become noted for are exercises in self discipline and related to food. While both artists have experimented with ingesting the objects of their experiments, Hu’s work borders on self harm in way Saboury does not. Yet there is a certain resonance between their works. Saboury salivates in an unsightly while way, working bits of brick from a London building site in her mouth, she looking to know the material of architecture and to interact with it. Hu drinks in condiments to a revolting degree, until he is gagging and performs the ritual of stabbing a pendulous sack of combined condiments and forcing himself to drink it. At Griffin Gallery though, tucked away as it is behind the sprawling monument to consumerism that is Westfield, Hu turned himself into a human machine while his “helper” fed the oranges into the purpose built structure Hu calls “Ax”, and Hu worked with his entire body, controlling a juicer with his mouth. After much splashing and working of the orange squeezer, one single glass of juice was drunk by a member of a near-stunned audience, Hu’s tee shirt callously spattered in blood orange. The show broadcasts on 104.4 Thursday 16th January, repeating the following Sunday. www.resonancefm.com