La JohnJoseph explores queerness and mental health in A Generous Lover

This article is from 2018

A Generous Lover

credit: Attila Kenyeres

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.

A Generous Lover

  • 4 stars

La JohnJoseph A Generous Lover is the true and very queer tale of one soul's journey through the wasteland of mental illness, to deliver their lost love. Brimming with psychedelic proletarian prose and trenchant wit, it recounts the pandemonium of navigating mental health services on behalf of a loved one, whilst being…