The initial germ of the idea for American choreographer and performance artist Christopher Matthews’s latest work was in fact sparked by a line in a Janet Jackson track: “My body’s an exhibition, baby” from 2008’s Feedback. Not only was Janet Jackson an idol of Matthews’s, but the words got the artist thinking about the intersection between pop culture and classical and contemporary dance, and different perspectives on the politics of the body.

One pandemic later and his original show delayed (like everything else in the culture sector and beyond), the concept grew to become a full-blown takeover of London’s Sadler’s Wells, with 22 installations from international performance makers in the form of video, photography, collage, sound, light, text and live movement, scattered throughout the foyers and unseen parts of the building.

The event will feature the world premiere of Matthews’s My Body’s Number One, his work for gallery spaces, Lads, as well as new work inspired by Sadler’s Wells’s history in pop culture. The contributing artists include Phoebe Berglund, Bhenji Ra, Fenia Kotsopoulou, John Philip Sage, Songhay Toldon, Nasheeka Nedsreal and Myrid Carten.

We had the pleasure of talking to Matthews ahead of the launch of My Body’s an Exhibition. He spoke about the inspiration behind the show, the eclectic work he curated as part it, and the themes it explores – from gender and class structure to the interplay between the spectator objectifying the body of the performer and the performer’s view of themselves, as well as the history of dance and pop culture. He also spoke about his own working class background and route into dance since watching Fame as a kid, facing up to having a non-conventional dancer’s body and his views on the impact of the pandemic on the cultural sector.

By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 25th June 2021.

My Body’s an Exhibition is on at Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 25th and 26th June 2021. For further information or to book visit here.