Frances Cooper

Francis Cooper, The Otherside, performance 2012

BA Performance Design and Practice alumna Frances Cooper explains the thinking behind her project ‘Blue Bunny’.

Blue Bunny was a sculptural object, a critical part of the scenography I designed and constructed for the opera Bluebeard’s Castle composed by Bela Bartok. The libretto speaks of ‘thousands of barbaric weapons’ - when designing the scene I made the decision to place this opera in the 21st century, contemporary life, thoughts, and action. For me there is nothing more powerful in armory than the nuclear weapon, a singular weapon of mass destruction. It is also a subject that made me curious, it is delicate, secretive and few have concrete knowledge about it. The research and idea prevailed and I set about designing and constructing a nuclear chemistry laboratory with the main piece of scenery being an atomic bomb. I was inspired to use, and fell in love, with aluminium when I came across the breath taking sculpture ‘The Forces of Nature' by the artist Lorenzo Quinn. 

The most dangerous part of a nuclear weapon is the centre, the nucleus. I manipulated the object to look completely spherical, but conceptually deconstructed and designed it to be visibly open so that the audience was visibly confronted at all times by the heart beat of the weapon. To emphasise this I used a flush light, commonly found in bathrooms in houses in the UK, a lightbulb, red filter, anchored and wired electricity to give off a pulsating red light. I wanted to give life to this object and for a sense of emergency to be experienced by the public. Blue Bunny was selected to be exhibited in the Handy Side Gallery for the inaugural degree show at Central Saint Martins, King's Cross. The three metre long object was then dismantled and recycled. 

Press review: ‘The Armory was splendidly realized, with a glowing atomic bomb suspended from the ceiling and table covered with test tubes and petri-dishes evoking a chemical laboratory. The detail and scale of this room juxtaposed with the surrealist unease of the Torture Chamber to great Effect’ – James Richard, The Islington Gazette

In 2012, Frances Cooper was nominated for the prestigious Nova Awards.

Frances is a performer, performance designer, curator, and performance theorist. Visit her website www.aperformativebody.tumblr.com or www.notesonperformance.com for more of her work.