Maisie Newman 

bookworks -
writing - 
performance -
choreography -
installs -
film -

based in bristol and london 


Theatre
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Ruskin MFA 
Examination Prize for outstanding academic achievement

Maisie was a recent winner of the Rex Warner poetry prize:  

Maisie’s work is a “visceral and elemental exploration of birth, death, and language, which is full of vivid imagery and evocative word-choice. The collection handles its dense literary and historical references unobtrusively and mixes genres, blends languages and blurs the boundaries between letters and images in a way that is both ambitious and successful.”

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Underpinned by writing, my practice unfolds outwards into materiality: into objects, substances like oil, water or soil, visual documents and the construction of embodied spaces. Often navigating cultural erosion, my work is an attempt to untangle the transmission and untranslatability of Jewish histories, identity and trauma, and how these are able (or unable) to be mapped onto language. The work is the culmination of various attempts to unpack myself as an archival space. I start with words, the body, or a crack in the wall. I am finding the evidence of something in my flesh, maybe a route out of or into somewhere, or a forgotten history, or a language. I am trying to orientate and gather myself in the Void but I keep slipping in and out of coherent thought. I cast out a net to collect residual materials but now our veil is covered in mud, we are trying to see through it but the flies are making it difficult
and the velcro stitching
(on the back of the dress)
has ripped a metal taste in our throat

we have forgotten our name
this new one keeps slipping
into the folds of our mouths


secreting a wax



we can’t find the papers

a book of visions

archival bookwork in an edition of one                        
printed and bound by Book Works


Book 15x9cmx1 cm                                                            
Display case 15x9x8 cm                                                   
Solander box 32x 23x11 cm


I have been thinking about the making of boxes and how we gather and store family histories and records. I have also been thinking about the collection of documents in boxes and the necessity for information to be hidden, alongside the consequence of that concealment being that memories or histories become lost. I have been thinking about how we display these histories in museums or libraries, how rarity or loss can lead to protection or occlusion, of items wrapped in black book cloth and stored in drawers or boxes in well-ventilated basements.

A Book of Visions is an archive of documents (or evidence) from moving through the Void, approaching an occluded family history and loss of cultural identity. It is an attempt to parallel actions of archiving and documenting and to understand the gathering of family history as a practice within itself. An attempt to reconnect to a culture that was slowly lost and silenced before it reached me, in response to assimilation, or to fear, or to ancestral trauma.

The bookwork’s language is that of evidencing, of naming and archiving the experience of relearning a Jewish identity. 


read a digital version of the book here for a limited time

2021




how to remember a name

filmwork, 2021

How to Remember a Name is an embodied encounter with the void. The film navigates the transmission of mistranslated or misremembered history, language, cultural practice and violent mythologies. It places the short untangling of my interaction with, and loss of, Jewish culture against the fathomless void of wider Jewish history and collective trauma. It is an attempt to conjure visions of the burrow, to trace the edge of a crack in the wall and the text, to open and refocus a claustrophobic, alternative space: one of ritual and the body and its relation to vulnerability, shame and memory.

The work features an audio recording of an interview found on YouTube while researching The Battle of Cable Street (Worldwrite). It is of the historian William J Fishman (Bill), a relation of mine, who I met only once.


extract availble to watch >

please contact artist to view full work
 


2021



on ēglond

performance work in progress

script / performance prompts /
documentation and photography 

Chelsey Cliff (photographer)
Mimi Donaldson (designer)
Rowan Evans (writer)
Eli Lower (dramaturg)


‘On Ēglond, On Ōþerre’ was a project undertaken during my time as a creative fellow at University College London in collaboration with poet and composer Rowan Evans in 2020/2021.

The project responds to the animistic poems and nature magic of the Old English Exeter Book and ‘Nine Herbs Charm’. Our approach to these sources is transhistorical, exposing how the translation and weaponization of early medieval culture inform current attitudes to place and environment. These are politically contested sites of knowledge, as medievalist accounts of the British landscape frequently orientate themselves around a myth of the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ – a white supremacist term first popularized in the 19th century by eugenicists such as Louis Klipstein. The lineage of this fascist worldview continues to shape the racist and exclusionary rhetoric surrounding rural ‘Englishness’, nativist environmentalism and its antipathy towards the ‘urban’ and ‘global’, as characterised by the contemporary writer Paul Kingsnorth and his withdrawn essay ‘Elysium Found?’ as well as his Guardian article ‘England’s Uncertain Future’ (Kingsnorth).

2020 –