Every Ocean Hughes – One Big Bag

The first UK solo exhibition of Every Ocean Hughes (FKA Emily Roysdon). 

One Big Bag centres on a Millennial death doula and the items in her ‘mobile corpse kit’. The immersive film installation asks vital practical, political and poetic questions contributing to a necessary and growing debate around end–of–life practices. 

With a matter–of–fact demeanour and intense physicality, the death doula’s monologue guides viewers into the largely uncharted waters of ‘corpse care’. She performs her work with everyday items manipulated to profound use – caring for the newly dead as well as loved ones left behind. In the immersive installation these sometimes mundane items – cotton swabs, water bowls, ceremonial bells, snacks and painkillers – are suspended from the gallery’s vaulted ceiling. Each item is hung at the specific height it is used in relation to the body, allowing the audience to inhabit her work.

Hughes considers her subject from an explicitly queer perspective, exploring new references, vocabularies and aesthetics with which to reorient our approach to surviving and dying. Speaking to ritual, social and political questions about end of life practices, Hughes scrutinises the wider inequalities of the death industry including the economic burden of funerals, racism in medical care and funeral practices, and the bureaucratic barriers which effect queer communities and curtail individual agency in death.

Threaded with humour, grief, unknowing and a desire for justice, Hughes’ work encourages us to turn towards that which we strive so hard to avoid. 

One Big Bag is co–commissioned by Studio Voltaire, London and Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.  With additional support provided by Whitney Museum of American Art and Arts Council England.

Studio Voltaire’s opening programmes have received support from Cockayne Grants for the Arts (The London Community Foundation). 

One Big Bag is commissioned alongside Desperate Living, Studio Voltaire’s ongoing programme which brings artists, public organisations and informal groups together to test out new and experimental forms of collaborative programming, knowledge sharing and production, explored through the lens of LGBTQIA+ healthcare.

Public Programme

What is dead, what do we let die: An evening of readings, 30 March 2022

An evening of readings by artists and writers, as part of the public programme for Every Ocean Hughes’ One Big Bag. This event focused on the subjects of Hughes’ film, responding to different approaches to mutual aid and kinship, and exploring both personal and oblique understandings of death’s ritual, political and poetic dimensions. Contributions by Adam Farah, Jasmine Johnson (with Loz Chandler), Imani Mason Jordan, Edward Thomasson (and Adrian Quinton) and Abbas Zahedi, with an additional text authored and selected by Oreet Ashery.

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Every Ocean Hughes in conversation with Catherine Wood, 1 February 2022

Every Ocean Hughes was joined in conversation by Catherine Wood, Senior Curator, International Art (Performance), Tate, to discuss Hughes’ wider practice in relation to her new film commission One Big Bag.

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About Every Ocean Hughes

Every Ocean Hughes (FKA Emily Roysdon) (b. 1977) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Stockholm, Sweden. 

The artist’s recent projects take the form of performance, photographic installations, printmaking, text, video, and curating. Her many collaborations include music with The Knife, Colin Self, and JD Samson & MEN; costume design for choreographers Levi Gonzalez, Vanessa Anspaugh, Faye Driscoll, and the band Le Tigre. Hughes has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2017); Secession, Vienna (2015); PARTICIPANT INC, New York (2015); Art in General, New York (2011); and the Berkeley Art Museum (2010).  The artist has received commissions for new work from Tate Modern, London (2012, 2017), the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2013–14); Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (2013–14); and the Kitchen, New York (2010).  

A major exhibition of Hughes’ work is forthcoming at Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 2022 and a new commission with the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2023.

Image credit

Every Ocean Hughes, One Big Bag, Installation View, Studio Voltaire, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire. Image: Francis Ware

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