We had the great pleasure of speaking with the delightful and well spoken unrelenting writer, artist, poet, and all around creative thinker Jazmin Papadopoulous. Our conversation with Papadopoulous extended across a myriad of topics including why Papadopoulous prefers to be referred to by pluralist pronoun; 'them or they' instead of 'her or she' or 'him or he' and why that preference is not a politically driven one but rather a more personal protective choice. We further discuss Papadopoulous' one time foray at a clowning school, thoughts on marginalization and the stigmatization attached around that concept, video art, audience, victim-hood, and gender identity among other topics. Papadopoulous recently completed an artist residency at Cartae at the Winnipeg artist run center Ace Art. After speaking with Papadopoulous, I got a resonant sense of the way they [Papadopoulous] think and how that mind for insightful thinking, redirects conventions and highlights a reassessing of them. The Cartae program was a way for them[Papadopoulous] to think about their insistent ideas and viewpoints and find different ways to visually express and embellish them.
Jazmin Papadopoulos in speaking about the Cartae residency:
Cartae has been really good for art production. I’ve never made as many things in one period as I have since I began the program. Having the physical space – as well as the conceptual space – to create goals and make work was nice. It’s the largest body of work I’ve made since being school. In comparison, school was more guided, and I had a greater motivation to write—which I very much still enjoy doing—and do research. Lately, I haven’t put as much time looking into theory, but more time writing and reading poetry and lit.
"I think it’s important to know the history of what you are doing because maybe it has a fucked up history, or maybe there are other lineages that really relate more to you. This is especially important for white folks to be self-reflexive about, as it’s culturally acceptable to appropriate from other cultures but doing so is also participating in colonialist legacy and white supremacy."
Luther Konadu: Has writing always come fairly easy for you?
Jazmin Papadopoulous: Yeah, I think I’ve always had an easy time writing. I recently moved towards writing poetry as a result of reading postcolonial feminist theory in University, but I approach writing poetry similarly to clowning: it’s this impulsive, intuitive thing. I still don’t know much about writing poetry on a formal or technical level…I can maybe do it sometimes, but it’s hard to talk about. I know everything is based out of tradition, and I feel a little clueless about that when it comes to writing. Sometimes I feel like an arrogant asshole when I’m like, “I can write, I’ll just throw this little poem out there, but not know anyone that writes in this format and the history of it.” Naturally, there’s a learning curve and I’m working on it, but I still think it’s problematic to do work without knowing much about the history surrounding it. I’m slowly rooting myself more in what has been done. I think it’s important to know the history of what you are doing because maybe it has a fucked up history, or maybe there are other lineages that really relate more to you. This is especially important for white folks to be self-reflexive about, as it’s culturally acceptable to appropriate from other cultures but doing so is also participating in colonialist legacy and white supremacy.
Photo Contribution by Travis Ross
LK: What kind of work did you submit as proposal?
JP: My proposal was based around bridging poetry with my clowning practice. That led me into experimenting with and making work in video. I got interested in the history of marginalized people with low access to technology making art with video. I started to work with Video Pool. I never really had much exposure to video as an art form so I spent some time there, watching video art and talking to them about what I was interested in and what kind of work I can get from using the medium.
LK: Tell me about your experience with clown school...how did you get the idea to try it out?
JP: I went to clown school in Vancouver. I know three other people who have been to that school. My old roommate one day said to me, “I’m a clown!” and I was like, “What does that even mean? That's ridiculous,” and she started talking about it as kind of an empathetic activist practice. She described it as noticing everyday moments where people either feel uncomfortable or ashamed, noticing those ‘blocked moments’ that stop us from being who we really are, and being able to address them and spin them back on yourself in a way that lets everyone acknowledge and notice them and have these ‘special moments’ of acceptance. I was in school for conflict and resolution studies and I didn’t feel I was really good at it the “empathetically connecting with people” part. Hearing this perspective on clowning got me interested in enrolling in clown school, hoping it would help me became a better counselor or therapist or less awkward at social events or something.
LK: Where did making visual or fine art work come into play?
JP: I’ve always made creative work but have been hesitant to call what I’ve made art or call myself an artist. This continued until my last year of school when I became exposed to feminist thinkers that bridge artistic and activist practices with academics; for example, the way that Gloria Anzaldua writes theory but uses multiple languages and includes storytelling and poetry.