Emily Hesse’s interdisciplinary, often collaborative practice includes the use of performance,drawing, writing, sculpture, ceramics and installation to question and aggravate social and political power dynamics through psychogeography, philosophy, and regional folk histories, collective action and the use of land and its associated materials as a physical form of protest.
Deeply rooted in social structures and the landscape itself, Hesse’s work is born of the space she occupies and underpinned by free thinking approach influenced by the philosophies of 20th century thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Rachel Bespaloff, Albert Camus and Heinrich Blucher. Utilising aesthetics as a tool for subversion, Hesse takes her own land, the overlooked, personal items from her home and family life, the often ugly and unfamiliar, materials of historical significance and draws out their political and social mythologies, highlighting thought provoking content and transforming them into objects of collective familiarity.
Since childhood, Hesse has collected the material fragments of industrial Teesside. These materials range from the bricks that once formed the homes, buildings and structures of Hesse’s hometown of Middlesbrough, the clay from which they were made or the stories shared within four walls. In Hesse’s on going plight to write her historically marginalised community into history, she considers her works as building blocks; they not only hold the volumetric weight of an untold regional history, but also create a space for previously silenced and unheard voices to speak.