The Practical Creative

Fire, Clay & Ice - How the artist CASSILS works with risk

June 4, 2020

CASSILS is a visual artist working in live performance, film, sound, sculpture and photography. They have achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture – So what does this look like in practice?

It means creating powerful works of art across a host of media, often with a strong performative element; this includes undergoing a gruelling physical transformation to gain 23 pounds of muscle in 23 weeks, or saving all their urine for 200 days, or being set on fire by a stunt team. And we dig into the meaning behind each of these in the interview.

Each of Cassils artworks is rooted in deep conceptual, often political, explorations. And although they often involve a degree of risk, they are never reckless – a distinction Cassils is very clear to make.

Some of the topics we covered in this conversation include:

  • The rigorous approach applied to creating new pieces of work

  • Responding to prompts: how they’ve created work in response to both commissions and emerging cultural and political events

  • How they think about risk, and why it’s become a feature in their work

  • Why performing live in front of an audience has been integral to many their pieces

And we finish with a brilliant Creative Challenge that really asks us to consider the power of our skills as artist, and how we choose to use it.

I started the conversation by jumping straight in and asking Cassils for some context on how they navigate the process of taking an idea into a completed work. Please enjoy.