La JohnJoseph explores queerness and mental health in A Generous Lover
- Gareth K Vile
- 31 July 2018
A sensitive and unique tale of a troubled journey
La JohnJoseph's previous Edinburgh Fringe success, Boy in a Dress, was a sensitive yet forthright fusion of performance art and story-telling: like A Generous Lover, it began with autobiography before addressing wider social ideas about gender and individuality. 2018's show follows La JohnJoseph seeking mental health support for a friend, highlighting the experience through a transfeminine perspective.
La JJ's approach is determinedly queer in aesthetic and content: 'I always want to flag that up to the audience. Queer isn't seeking fixity, queer is questioning.' A Generous Lover, driven by La JJ's distinctive elegant and eloquent style, sits at the intersection between modernist experimentation, classical poetry and robust social commentary. Working across multiple art-forms – La JJ performs, writes and makes videos – the artist takes their own experience and translates it into a philosophical exploration that encompasses religious belief, tenderness and raw honesty.
With queerness now more widely discussed, La JJ has a place within the tradition of film-maker Derek Jarman, North American firebrand feminist raconteur Penny Arcade and the romantic poets. La JohnJoseph's tag – yesterday's Britain today – suggests a reinvention of history through a contemporary prism, while this reimagining of the past is tempered by a spiritual, intelligent and bracing sense of performance and performativity.
Summerhall, 4–26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 6pm, £10 (£8). Previews 1, 3 Aug, £8.