Over recent years, I have been developing a way of talking about the temporal experience of a life lived longer than expected. After surpassing my life expectancy, I understand this temporal experience as zombie time. Much of my work over the last few years has used this concept as its starting point. The beginning of zombie time was marked by a 30 hour performance to camera. This took place in an abandoned morgue in south east London, and consisted of thirty actions, one on the hour every hour, in the thirty hours leading up to my expected death date. They were filmed by Suhail Merchant. The resulting footage became my work 'Until the Last Breath is Breathed'. This has two forms, one as a three screen video installation, and the other as a performance lecture. The lecture was performed at Tate Britain in February 2020 and consisted of select footage alongside live actions and a series of texts. These texts imagined various scenarios in which society breaks down because of illness. Most of the texts had been written months or years before the onset of the Covid19 virus. Now, the texts seems to take on a new meaning.
So, I have been recording them and sending the audio to Suhail. He has a lot of footage of me, from various collaborations. In an attempt to keep making and to keep figuring out the world we are living in, we are releasing a series of video essays. Each one is based around one of my texts, using footage Suhail and I have shot for other projects. They are a way of trying to understand this time as a form of zombie time, where everyone is suddenly acutely aware of their own mortality. These will be released as we approach my new work at the ICA in October 'The Last Breath Society (Coughing Coffin)', which will work through ideas of communal mortality and waiting together/apart.
I should be dead but I’m not. Now I’m existing in a different time. This is zombie time. The time of the animated corpse. I am immortal. Death is behind me instead of in front. Zombie time is a different relationship to death and life. It’s still about survival but also infecting- creating a horde. It’s a form of enduing life when death is no longer the certainty it once was. It is no longer linear, it’s full of breaks and ambushes. In zombie time, you keep moving but not towards anything, just for the sake of moving. No goals, only desires. No plans, only reactions. The only constant is the presence of death but not in the way it once was, the zombie knows death and breaths in death. Death is in me instead of somewhere else. Until the Last Breath is Breathed.