Joseph Morgan Schofield, with bare feet touching the sky I yearn, 2022.
ICA (London). Photo by zack mennell.






Joseph Morgan Schofield (b. Rochdale, UK, 1993) is a curator, artist and creative producer whose independent practices are underpinned by an understanding of performance as a potent contemporary modality of ritual: an/other way of inhabiting body, space and time; a technology of processing, belonging, mourning, desiring and communing.

To this end, Joseph has organised, facilitated, curated, produced, written and made performances and films. Across the expressions of this belief/research, they/he remain committed to the live and embodied practices which welcome complexity, mess, tension and difficulty, and which call us towards the raw edges of experience.



these teeming forms, Joseph Morgan Schofield, 2022. Single Channel Video. Images made in collaboration with zack mennell.




curation


This research is most clearly expressed through Future Ritual, a long term curatorial and research practice initiated by Joseph in 2017. Early iterations of Future Ritual intentionally shifted shape, emerging as a touring platform, festival, season and intensive workshop, borrowing and activating contexts including the ICA (London), Arnolfini and SPACE Studios. Formalised in 2023 as a CIC, Future Ritual continues to hold Joseph’s curatorial and artistic research alongside artist development and participatory projects and important collaborative relationships, such as those with Anne Bean, Emilyn Claid, Martin O’Brien and Marilyn Arsem.



Anne Bean and Ansuman Biswas, DISCHARGE, 2024. Photo by Manuel Vason.

Helena Goldwater, Future Ritual: CEREMONY [I], 2024. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.


Future Ritual's current project CEREMONY explores functions of performance in times of fragmentation, including as a mode of gathering for those alienated by and excluded from normative structures and belief systems. Beginning on the midsummer weekend of 2024, the programme will unfold across the following 12 months in London and Venice.


Previous Future Ritual curatorial programmes have featured Marilyn Arsem, Devika Bilimoria, Helena Goldwater and Sandra Johnston (2024); Martin O’Brien and Anne Bean (2023); Soojin Chang, Rubiane Maia, and Benjamin Sebastian (2022).



    Marilyn Arsem, Voices, Future Ritual: CEREMONY [I], 2024. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.


    Sandra Johnston, Avert/Avow, Future Ritual: CEREMONY [I], 2024. Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou.


    Alongside this independent work Joseph has worked in institutional contexts, programming contemporary dance, performance art, Live Art and embodied practices at The Place (2022 to present) and managing artist development at the Live Art Development Agency (2018-22).


    Recent programmes at The Place have included works by VestAndPage and Gareth Chambers/Popperface (2023); BRABA Platforma, Lorraine Dambermont, SERAFINE1369 and Junk Ensemble (2024).


    These works are relics of the future. Something strange has happened and I am no longer sure what tense we are in’
    Accompanying text for Leo Robinson: The Infinity Card, Chapter Arts Centre, 2023.





    collaboration


    Joseph’s practice has been charged and shaped by their participation in artist-led initatives, collaborative projects and temporary autonomous spaces and communities. In partnership with Benjamin Sebastian, Joseph co-founded VSSL studio in 2020. VSSL is a container for contemporary, queer, interdisciplinary artistic practice(s) and communities. VSSL was activated with GATHERING IN A TIME OF PLAGUE, a public programme responding to the needs of time-based art and artists during the pandemic.




    Jasper Llewellyn, VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by zack mennell.

    Kimvi, VSSL studio, 2021. Photo by zack mennell.



    They were formerly an Associate Artist and later Co-Director of ]performance s p a c e[ (2019-22) and are a frequent collaborator of the Venice International Performance Art Week and the affiliated Anam Cara Collective. Joseph previously co-curated and co-produced MOVE CLOSE, a club night at the intersection of electronic music, dramaturgy, choreography and performance art (2018-19).



    move close design by Ben Normanton.

    art work


    Joseph’s research has also been expressed through the creation of performance and moving image works. For much of the last decade they have worked to deepen their understanding of performance art as a ritual practice - a way of tuning the mind and turning the body towards the invisible.

    The sweating sensate body is at the heart of this practice.




    with bare feet touching the sky I yearn, ICA (London), 2022. Photos by Fenia Kotsopoulou.

    Articulated as ‘queer ritual action’, these works emerge influenced by a host of agents, human and otherwise. Expressions of the work draw on a growing material, physical and poetic vocabulary which Joseph typically calls on in a semi-improvisational way, through practices of channeling, divination and exhaustion.

    These traces give a sense of the recurrent gestures, objects and totems of the work. Being with loss is the central preoccupation of the work and there is room within this for kinship, desire, eroticism, and connection.


    One of the special magics of performance art is the vibrant possibility of the live encounter’
    Interview in Run Riot, 2021, with Adam Bloodworth - An interview reflecting on Joseph’s practice ahead of PSX: a decade of performance art in the UK.

    the pink sky reflects the bloody earth, VO Curations, 2019. Photo by Zbigniew Tomasz Kotkiewicz.


    Under Scars, Venice International Performance Art Week, 2022. Photo by Lorenza Cini


    with bare feet touching the sky I yearn, ICA (London), 2022.
    Videography by Baiba Sprance and Marco Beradi.


    PSX: 10 Hours, Ugly Duck, 2021. Photos by Fenia Kotsopoulou.






    devotion : seduction, Venice International Performance Art Week, 2020. Photos by Fenia Kotsopoulou.



    words by Daniella Valz Gen, 2022

    Soil
    A suspended carcass Ribbon
    A metal bucket
    A video projection
    A spade
    Candles
    Needles

    The scene itself is full of ghosts and expectation.

    I wait in the red light and smell the soil,
    the hum gets into my spine :
    I feel my inner waters vibrate as I look at dry bones.

    The sizzle of a blowtorch Smoke, a faint scent of gas

    (My eyes burn)
    Embers flicker on the tip of a wooden pole

    Stone on a metal spade Stone in a mouth,
    play

    Knocking about knock knock knock

    (A call, persistent)

    What is this sense of foreboding? Where are we?
    What else is there?
    Who?

    The sound of fire bursts
    Black wax drips on Joseph’s pale chest

    —Tattoos Sigils Lace—

    Like the carcass that presides over the space
    As if saying: we too are already dead

    We are with death
    in a tangle of shimmery ribbon

    An open mouth pulling on cord

    Across space Across time Across life

    I feel Joseph’s mouth in my spine and my rib cage: pulling at my tendons, my own carcass.

    Psychopomp childlike and in black satin, their flesh pierced
    as if to say:

    I’m here I bleed I’m here

    Alive
    (I’m here with you)

    From blood to clay
    From red to fade
    A desire to exit
    A gesture towards absolute presence and effacement at the same time

    The space has been pierced
    All that’s left is a sad tender holding



    between crisis and stasis I wait, Tactile Bosch, 2019. Photos by zack mennell.
    these teeming forms, VSSL Studio, 2021. Photo by zack mennell.











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    Joseph Morgan Schofield, 2024