Loose Canons13.07.18

Loose Canons: Tallulah Holly-Massey

Basement Theatre artist-in-residence Tallulah Holly-Massey lets us in on her inspirations.

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Tallulah is a Unitec graduate and works as a freelance dancer, performer and choreographer. She has danced for and collaborated with many New Zealand choreographers including Alexa Wilson, Kelly Nash, Claire O’Neil, Zahra Killeen-Chance, Vicky Kapo, Kristian Larsen and Joshua Rutter. Tallulah spent much of last year collaborating with artist and filmmaker Vincent Ward and recently returned to New Zealand from a performance art laboratory in Arizona with Mexico/San Francisco based company La Pocha Nostra. She is the 2018 Basement Theatre artist in residence and is about to open her second show Mammoth this week.

My mother the sculptor

My mother is undeniably an artist in any and every situation. It can be incredibly frustrating and equally inspiring. When I was a little ballet-dancing child I didn’t think of myself being particularly creative or artistic and when mum had kid's art classes at our house, I never joined in.

It wasn’t unusual to find her boiling fish eyes on the stove to make beads, holding adult life drawing classes in the living room or developing film in the cupboard. One of her things was taking moulds of her body and placing them in segregated wooden trays - multiples of ears, nipples and palms. I thought this was the most normal thing in the world. Many years later I realise her aesthetic informs almost everything I make.

La Pocha Nostra

Last year I went to Tucson Arizona to hang out with La Pocha Nostra (the border-crossing rebel performance art organization). I first heard about Guillermo Gomez Pena who started La Pocha Nostra when I was studying at Unitec, thanks to Charles Koroneho (the dream teacher of every performing-artist-in-training). It was 46 degrees celsius, and everyday for one week I walked to a studio in the desert to spend time with an exceptional group of humans. We worked really really fast, often nude, without hierachy, in an open and consensual space. The heat melted my shoes off my feet. Heat-struck, I hallucinated a dog with a rhino horn that later turned out to be a kind of tusked wild pig, and everyone kept endlessly talking about the full moon. I feel like everything is different since then and it’s something to do with going away and extremity and surrender and being completely anonymous.

Making lists

Here are some from my phone archives:

Hypo blanket
Swiss ball
Stick? Roller?
Clear tube? Concertina
Survival kit

De lint
Brush wigs


Tennis balls

In architecture, the concept of circulation isn't so different - it refers to the way people, the blood of our buildings, move through space.

G 20.36
Z 36.16

Feral children, sci-fi and magic realism

Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. I really love the opening scene, it’s shot like a palindrome and everytime I watch it I clap aloud at how delicate the direction is. The final scene features a mute child with telekinetic abilities. I’m always trying to justify paranormal activities in my work thanks to this film.

Philip K Dicks’ short stories. I love sci-fi that isn’t necessarily set in space or the future. Because he wrote so much in the 50s, it’s all so banal and stereotypically of that time, so when an alternate reality exists within that world it’s so magic and horrific to me – that something wrong can exist on a sunny normal American day. For me it’s so much about atmosphere and not a nameable thing. I like seeing and feeling the thing that has no name?

Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos. Seeing this film really brought into focus my feelings and obsession with people being physically intimate in a really detached fashion. Feral children and uncivilised bodies. It’s a beautiful and disturbing film and I feel speechless thinking of it.


Failing feels more and more useful to me; trying to figure out how to be a fully functional human and just feeling like that isn’t always being achieved. But still trying to just connect with others anyway, instead of feeling afraid to fuck it all up, and staying open to hearing what they are about, with all their dysfunctions too. Connecting with them through that shared feeling of being uncomfortably comfortable.

Mammoth runs from July 17th – 21st at the Basement Theatre. Tickets available here.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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