Adam James (b. 1978) is a British artist. At the heart of his practice is a desire to bring people together in order to understand the self and to open up new ways of being and interacting. He uses non-verbal play to encourage forms of dialogue, mediation and the reconsideration of sameness and difference. James makes sculptural objects, drawings, photographs, videos and texts that all arise from his steadfast involvement in the performative practice of live action role play (larp). James’ focus is on the experimental style of Nordic larp. This is a particular tradition of larp that is understood as a progressive and creative form of interactive role-play and mode for storytelling. At its basic formation, the participants assume roles and characters within a set fiction—to enact an incredibly diverse range of ideas and subjects—with the goal of creating thematic coherence, immersion and collaboration. Within his practice, James positions the larp as a tool to trigger, on a micro level, future possibilities, new forms of collaborative democracy and the temporary dismantling of hierarchies.
An Extension of Us is an installation that also functions as a site for a series of larps to unfold. The exhibition comprises: a woven rug-like floor piece; a series of video works—from a studio-based active tableau vivant to a choreography of non-verbal table-top hand gestures; a collection of anthropomorphic sculptures clad in pastel fabrics and a vinyl graphic wall-based work representing two movement scores, the proposition for a future larp and the reflection of a past larp. Displayed in the gallery and on the facade of the building James’ pillowy sculptures facilitate exchanges; they function as both props within the larps (on and off-site) and are also made available for the public to borrow. Extending the sculptures beyond the gallery and for visitors to loan, he sets up a relationship between site, artist, audience and artwork that explores how a sculptural form can promote play and serve as an alibi for a dialogue of exchange. An Extension of Us functions as a repository of objects, a set for action to unfold, the physical manifestation of past live events and an exhibition in its own right. This multi-faceted environment presents the artist’s interest in the potential for an object or a space to be imbued by a live event, as well as a questioning of the adequacy of the exhibition format to represent the absent live act.
Adam James received his BA in Fine Art at the University of Brighton in 2003. In 2007 he completed his MA in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. In 2016/17 he worked with Turner contemporary on the 18-month project Art Inspiring Change and with the Serpentine gallery to produce a larp based resource called ‘Here is the Place’ to help children deal with transitioning to secondary school. He is currently a PhD student at the University of Kent, where his is researching Nordic larp as a progressive model for participatory arts practice. He most recently exhibited as part of SMACH, an international arts biennial set in the Italian Dolomites.
Adam James: An Extension of Us is further supported by
Adam James: The Making of An Extension of Us
Hannah Zafiropoulos on An Extension of Us
Adam James: Midnight Larp
Adam James: The Beholder Controller larp
Adam James: How to prevent a war larp
Katabasis: A Larp about descents and origin myths
Strangers: A larp exploring cultural clashes and integration
No Island is an Island: A larp using sound to create fictive islands
Alien Phenomenology: A larp about a silent alien encounter