The Showroom
Holding Space Artist

Jamila Johnson-Small


Last Yearz Interesting Negro is my 'solo' project initiated in 2016. I make shows, working with in-between spaces – things that exist in and through cracks in time/memory/attention – with syncopation, trance states, internal narratives, intensities, electronic music, and a love of dancing on the spot. In the work, bodies of public and performer(s) are navigated as object, animal, human, machine, environment, energy, to build atmospheric landscapes created by the live unfolding of the tensions between things that produce meaning. I use things that are already t/here and rearrange them in an effort to encounter some unholy combination that resonates with the horror, discomfort, cringe, confusion and sensuality of this contemporary moment and my position within it, opening up spaces in thinking, feeling, reading and dancing...

This practice works to affect/disrupt/deflect/distort/reflect the gaze(s) directed towards my body and the resultant choreographies are a stage or dreamspace or battleground for being with questions of presence, visibility, responsibility and pleasure, for situating and expanding (or dismantling) my ‘identity’ and turning it into theatre. These landscapes are created for my dancing body to inhabit with a public, seeking to access and utilise my own power for my own ends, disentangling from – or entangling myself further with – the isms that instrumentalise my existence on a daily without my consent.

I move with an awareness that my dances will always be a lament for the histories my body represents, carries and conjures. My current research is exploring surrender as a strategy for destruction and producing states of alienation as part of this resistance. The enemy is also within and the dances are driven by these strategies as internal processes. I am not interested in invention or innovation and try to cultivate an anti-assimilationist practice.
Evening length work 'i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere' premiered at Fierce Festival in Birmingham (October 2017) and I will continue to work on performance installation BASIC TENSION in 2018.

I am of Caribbean descent, born and based in London. I trained in Contemporary Dance for years but I don't know that I would describe what I do currently as being that. I have collaborated for 7 years (2009-2016) as immigrants and animals (UK/FI) - a DIY choreographic outfit/band with no instruments - with Mira Kautto. Project O with Alexandrina Hemsley is an ongoing duo collaboration, currently based at Somerset House Studios we make dance performances, have conversations, and try to find different performative ways to disrupt the structures that look to co-opt our minds, bodies and subjectivities. More recently I have performed in work by Fernanda Munoz-Newsome, run HOTLINE with Sara Sassanelli, GUSH, a semi-regular low-key DIY event, work on developing workshop 'soft practice' and embarking on a performance project with artist Rowdy SS. 


Saad is an artist on the Holding Space programme as part of the Object Positions project at The Showroom.

Holding Space is a one-year programme of research and support for eight UK based artists, as part of the Object Positions programme. Working with curatorial fellow Teresa Cisneros, the group collaborate on research, production and programming for an exhibition to be held at The Showroom in 2018.