We hosted Horizon residency artist Gareth Chambers in our Birmingham studios in January 2023 to develop his project, The Revenge of Popperface.
During his residency, he focused on new research in his series The Revenge of Popperface which aims to investigate and frame the cult of masculinity in pop culture, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and the power of music to offer alternative realities.
Working-class masculinity is often demonised as destructive, toxic, lazy and violent. Gareth’s ambition is to embody and subvert this narrative, creating a character (Popperface) who is angry, power-hungry and ambitious. Supported by two henchmen/dancers, Popperface aims to demonstrate that working class-ness can be positive and empowering.
Through experimenting with personas, I believe I can provide space for us as a wider society to discuss the disproportionate level of working-class people in the arts. I’m worried that people who grew up like me won’t even consider a career in the arts due to financial pressure or lack of exposure to artistic culture which can be life-changing. The Revenge of Popperface is my way of framing my culture and history.
During the 2 week residency, Gareth worked with sound technician Jaxson Payne, experimenting and distorting pop music aiming to create a performance track unique to the show.
Dance artists Richard Pye and Black Haine also joined Gareth in the studio to explore the first initial stages of movement exploration around MMA and aggro contact. As an experienced MMA/Boxing practitioner he explored MMA within a contact improvisation setting.