Elaine Mitchener’s work interweaves improvisation, performance art and contemporary music theatre. As a movement artist, composer and experimental vocalist, Mitchener has performed at the 56th Venice Biennale, White Cube and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, among others.
In 2017, Mitchener premiered SWEET TOOTH, an experimental music theatre piece commissioned by Bluecoat in Liverpool in partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation and the International Slavery Museum. Interweaving text, improvised music, and movement, Mitchener created a deeply personal and vivid evocation of the brutal realities of slavery, while casting light upon their contemporary echoes. Interrogating historical records of Britain’s colonial trade in sugar, the artist drew on texts including extracts from a traditional Jamaican plantation chant ‘Guinea Corn’ and the names and other details of enslaved Africans taken from the 1813 inventory of plantation owner Simon Taylor.
The piece marked the culmination of five years’ research by Mitchener, examining our love of sugar and the historical links between the Transatlantic slave trade and the UK sugar industry. Featuring haunting improvised music and visceral vocals, SWEET TOOTH was both harrowingly physical and sharply poignant.
After premiering at Bluecoat in November 2017, SWEET TOOTH was performed at the Museum of London in May 2018 and the Borealis Festival in Bergen, Norway in March 2020.
Industrialising Intimacy is a piece of contemporary music theatre, created by Elaine Mitchener in collaboration with choreographer Dam Van Huynh, featuring the work of composer George Lewis and sound artist David Toop.
Combining movement, vocal improvisation and sound, the audience transitions between observer and participant as they are invited to share Mitchener’s exploration of intimacy. Examining the loss of privacy in our society versus the power of true intimacy, the artist creates an evocative atmosphere of haunting sound and powerful movement.
Industrialising Intimacy was performed at Bluecoat, Liverpool in December 2015, Canterbury Christ Church University in February 2016 and Rich Mix, London in May 2016.