Video Artist Olivia Morrison talks about their short film ‘Hug Me Properly’, which forms part of Ugly Duck’s 10th year and their 4th annual @Disturbance Festival

Founded a decade ago in 2012 to platform the work of marginalised artists, performance venue Ugly Duck, located in Bermondsey – South East London, has been at the forefront of working with performance artists who are not afraid of exploring lesser talked about themes. Their @Disturbance Festival, now in its 4th year specifically created to showcase LGBTQ+ artists and stories. Set to show Hug Me Properly, a short film following the lives of a young, queer community on a night out, as part of Ugly Duck’s 10th year anniversary on the 10th,11th and 12th of November, queer and disabled video artist Olivia Morrison tells us more about what inspired the film’s creation, how they have approached creating the piece and what they have taken away from creating the film!

Hi Olivia, you’ll be taking part in Ugly Duck’s @Disturbance Festival from 10th to 12th November. How are you feeling ahead of the event?

Hi! I’m feeling very excited ahead of @Disturbance. Having also attended some of the recent events hosted at Ugly Duck, I’m excited to see how the space is transformed and brought to life for this year’s @Disturbance, as well as getting to be immersed by the wonderful work of my fellow artists.

You’ll be showcasing Hug Me Properly, a work following the lives of a young, queer community on a night out. What has inspired the creation of your piece?

As most work made within the last few years, Hug Me Properly stemmed from a formation of ideas and previous works that were brought to life during the Covid lockdowns. During the lockdown I became particularly interested in archival. This stemmed from my personal desire to feel connected to something, so during this time I had started the process of digitally cataloguing some family photos for a friend. This furthered my emotional resonance to the idea that having tangible evidence, physical objects, that can help tie your existence to something being immensely important.  I’ve always felt a sense of belonging when getting to experience works of queer documentation, such as the photographic works of Nan Goldin or the 2019 exhibition Kiss My Genders (a collection of wonderful queer art that I’ll never forget). I had made a previous experimental documentary called Presence earlier in 2021 , in which I explored the necessity of online connections in a modern pandemic world. During the creation of this film I spoke to each contributor, many who had felt that had come to terms with their sexual and gender identity during this period of isolation, but unfortunately because of that where thusly isolated and didn’t have the accessibility to connect to others. Thus the stepping stones for the creation of Hug me Properly began.

How have you approached creating the piece?

I approached this piece by firstly reaching out to contributors who were a part of my community, explain to them my desire to create an experimental documentary where I would get to observe them on a night out while asking them questions about queerness and how they felt in the current time. Because of my desire for physicality with this piece I shot the film on 16mm motion film. Having previously worked with this format it fit perfectly with my desire to have a tangibility to the work once it had been complete, alongside shooting on Mini DV tape and 35mm photographic film. All to be spliced into the film, representative of different identities and existence. Because of the intimate nature of the conversations that were occurring during the shooting of this project I tried to cultivate a safe and nurturing environment that the contributors could feel comfortable to share their experiences with. Because of this I am extremely grateful to them for doing so, for welcoming me into their homes and allowing me to speak with them. When it came to the post production of this piece, I wanted this production to solely have queer contributors, so I reached out with a previous collaborator of mine Moya Silk to make the wonderful score featured. Additionally the graphics featured within the film were produced by The Performance.

Ugly Duck celebrates 10 years, with their @Disturbance Festival celebrating 4 years of championing marginalised artists. What does it mean to you to form part of this special celebration?

Getting to be a part of @Disturbance means a lot to me. Events like these are immensely important to help raise the voices of marginalised artists and creators. I’m excited to not only get to share my work but to immerse myself and celebrate the work of other artists from different backgrounds, within a wide range of performance and moving image. 10 years is a wonderful thing to celebrate within itself and I cannot wait to see where it goes in the future, the plethora of artists that get to share their art.

What have you learned/taken away from creating the piece?

When making this piece I met with some of the contributors for the first time and I feel that the night spent shooting this film will have forever stayed with me. These people who allowed me to have an insight of their lives and their passions, simply by sharing the common thread of queerness, have now become my friends who I feel deeply connected with. And by the sole intention of the film, I now have the physical evidence of this night, something I can hold in my hands and share with others, a proof of ideas and thoughts that were held at the time. Ideas that could grow and flux but in its moment were purely adapted into a film via a conversation. A conversation I got to partake in, even when behind the camera. Thank you Well Hung Parliament, @PatButch, The Performance and Ethan.

What can audiences expect from your piece?

Audiences can expect to see some insight into the lives of a small pocket of a queer community, some who had not even met each other before that night and some who had been friends for years. Tied into layered and eclectic imagery, with a pulsing score, they can expect to see a piece where everyone involved in its creation was queer. The audience can also expect to see embedded subtitles within the film due to my desire to make watching this piece accessible and audience friendly. It will also be hosted online, alongside @Disturbance being live streamed making the event accessible to those who can’t make it in person.

What would you like for audiences to take away from the piece?

What I’d like for the audience to take away from Hug Me Properly is that ultimately there will always be someone out there that can understand your existence. Someone who can empathise and relate to your life experiences. Especially if you are a young adult learning to navigate your social life while also trying to discover your sexual and gender identities. To understand that even if you only find these people for a brief moment, there will always be people out there willing to bring you into their community with open arms and love. Queer love is beautiful and we must share it with those around us, now as much as ever.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

@Disturbance Festival will take from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th November 2022 at Ugly Duck. To find out more about the event, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop