DIY 14: 2017 - Catherine Hoffmann: Maybe Jumping Is Enough

A human flea circus 3 day residency with the StenchWench


Project summary

I want to bring together a group of scrounging, low-life austerity artists – those who are just scraping through to be offered warmth and love, survival tips, to eat heartily, create something from their inner resources and to become a human flea circus rejoicing our incredible existence. 

Let’s face it, most struggling artists have very little economically but have many riches in creative wealth if it is tapped into. Sometimes it’s hard to get into this goldmine because basic survival needs get in the way. Those who come from nothing will know this too well. It can feel like an uphill struggle.

I would like to rally together those who identify as someone who is struggling, on the outside, barely getting by or just holding on…Are you living on the breadline or do you come from a working-class background and find it hard to navigate through?

It’s OK to not be OK. To be dealing with just surviving. I would like us to come together as comrades to talk, share survival tips, create something out of nothing and exchange.

We will meet for three days at the Arc where basic needs will be met. There will be food, water, warmth and rest in a shared house. Within those three days we will talk, reflect, create actions, come together as a group to find ways to work through the Maslow triangle of hierarchical needs so that we can self-actualize our creative intentions with the use of a studio at the Arc. 

The best way to start is to begin with ‘where we are at’. This could be anything from just being tired, feeling ok, struggling with paying the rent, not having any time or energy to make any work –

I am particularly interested in those that are really finding it hard and maybe don’t have the support in place that other more privileged peers have. I want to go back to basics and see how we can help each other.

How can we make something out of nothing? Just our bodies, voice and our hearts.

How to apply

This residency is for anyone who identifies as someone who identifies as a struggling artist and is finding it hard to survive. You will either come from an economically challenged background or have very little support financially and mentally. You can be any age, gender, race, or sexuality. Generally you will be someone who identifies as ‘living on the edge’.

Applications (via the link below) require answers to the following questions:

  • Describe your situation in terms of ‘living on the edge’ and ‘survival’ and how this impacts on your artistic practice. Why do you identify as someone who is just getting by? What do you need help with? How does your creative life become compromised or indeed how does this feed into your work?
  • Tapping into the world of flea circuses, what would your human flea circus act be to celebrate your existence? (Remember jumping may be enough...)

This DIY is intended for a mix of participants based both locally and further afield. For those travelling from outside Stockton, accommodation can be provided. 


Dates, times and location

Dates: 28-30 Sept 2017
Time: From 5pm (Thurs), and from 10am (Fri and Sat)
Location: Stockton
Contributions to travel costs can be provided, and accommodation is included for those based outside Stockton.

The artist

Catherine Hoffmann’s work explores the intersection between performance art, theatre, humour and music in a number of solo and collaborative projects. Described as an elemental weather system, she creates a mixture of interactive one to one performances as well as staged pieces for Art venues, festivals, galleries, cabaret, club settings, one off events and varied sites. Singing, vocality and DIY song making is a huge part of her practice. Her work includes performances for Spill, Charlottenberg in Copenhagen, Podewil in Berlin, BIOS in Athens, The National Portrait Gallery, Latitude, Southbank Centre, Bristol Museum, LIFT Festival at The Royal Academy, Buzzcut, Steakhouse Live festival and Domestic II Festival presented by Word of Warning, Manchester. For the last five years Catherine has been developing participatory projects for Home Live Art such as Soup Kitchen for the soul, Madame Ex’s Paint and Taint sessions and The guilt and Shame hotline. 

If you have questions about this project, please contact Catherine.

This DIY is supported by ARC Stockton.

Part of DIY 14: 2017 - Call for Participants


ARC Stockton
Dovecot St
Stockton-on-Tees TS18 1LL