Name Jesse Gassongo-Alexander
Birthday September 30th
Where are you originally from? Republic of Congo, but I was born in Paris, France
Where do you currently live? London, England
Preferred Art Medium Performance Art
Hobby or interest aside from art? I really enjoy cooking, I'm not the best, but I'm decent..Mental how we all have pretty much the same ingredients, but use them all differently.
Guilty pleasures? Ice cream…. & I can't pass watching Titanic if it's on.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Basquiat, Tracey Emin, Alison Janae Hamilton, Jordan Casteel, Tyler the Creator, Khalil Joseph, Tyrone Lebone, Maisie Cousins, Maya Toledano, Carlota Guererro, There's plenty.
Favorite movie It changes from time to time, but I’ll say, American Beauty, Boyz N The Hood, City of God, Pulp Fiction & Django Unchained.
Favorite book? I Know why the caged bird sings – Maya Angelou. (Much thanks to Claire Lemaigre for recommending)
Favorite song/album/band/musician? Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill
What are 3 things you want to achieve? Buy my parents a house. Learn Japanese. Land on the moon….
What is something you deeply love about yourself? That I care a lot about people. Is that weird?
What is your definition of art? Being fearless & limitless with your creativity.
Briefly describe the circumstances under which you grew up, and how did these influence your art? Moved from Paris to London when I was pretty young. Then we moved around in London quite a bit. Each place was pretty different and the people we interacted with or who were around us were all different. Then I've also travelled quite a bit and I lived in Sydney for a while… I think this influences me because whenever I write, I tend to start off with characters rather than an a-b-c story.
Can you remember a specific experience from your life that has shaped who you are and what you do as an artist today? When I was much younger, my Mum said she's raising me to be a human rather than a man. That's also the way her and my dad have raised my two younger siblings (brother and sister). I think that plays a massive part because I look for the human in others (in characters).
Have you had any struggle with mental illness (and/or addiction) and if so, would you like to share your experience with us? Not me personally, but it's around me. Affects me deeply. Something close to my heart.
“When I was much younger, my Mum said she's raising me to be a human rather than a man.”
Artists paths are normally non-linear. Can you recall for us what your path has been like? I wanted to be a footballer, but I kept misbehaving in class in primary (junior) & secondary (high school). Back then if I didn't behave they wouldn't let me play football for the school team, but they always needed people for the school play (bear in mind, it wasn't really cool to be in the plays) but if you were in the school plays, you got to miss class — so that's how I found performance art and I haven't looked back since. Haha
Did you feel there were a lack of opportunities for you to express your creativity and emerge as an artist? If so, what would you propose to change this? There was a lack of opportunity in my community, but I think that's a running theme. Theres definitely a lack of opportunities in most places, I can't talk for everyone, everywhere, but I know in England there is & from my short time living in Australia, I’d say there too, especially for black & Asian artists, alongside female artists too. However I feel there is a change happening, it's slow, but it's happening and I think that comes from people being fearless with their art and creating their own platforms & then people seeing people they can relate to doing well. It's inspiring. There's enough room for us all to shine.
Do you think your ethnicity, gender, and/or personal preferences drove you towards becoming an artist? No.
“I believe art can spark the thought that makes change and brings the world closer… So we should constantly champion it and support our artists and their expressions.”
Illustration by Lindri Suryaning Dinar for Bloom The Film
What is your opinion of the art world as it is right now? Is there anything you'd like to change? I’d be lying if I said I know a lot about the art world, I don't. I do know it can be quite elitist & think that’s bullshit. I have a huge amount of respect for art and artists and I believe art can spark the thought that makes change and brings the world closer… So we should constantly champion it and support our artists and their expressions.
Artists are some of the most politically/socially engaged people. Do you find yourself actively supporting a particular movement or cause? Totally. General Human rights. Feminism which means equality to me. Black lives matter, which means equality to me again. Homophobia & Islamophobia. Then mental health, I think we can do so much more than what we’re currently doing. Basically I'm saying I hate boxes and labels, they're for Jars not people.
How do you think the internet aids/complements the art world? And how do you think it deteriorates it? Aids because it can help showcase the work of anyone which is one of the beauties of the internet. However I've seen a few moments where bigger corporations steal designs/ideas from artists without crediting them which is mental!
How long have you been writing films? Not long at all. Around a year and half, then we shot(Bloom) my first one in July 2016.
“I hate boxes and labels, they're for Jars not people.”
Illustration by Anna Higgins for Bloom The Film
How would you describe your style? It's too early I think to say If I have a style and what it is, but I like dreamy feels.
What draws you towards filmmaking? The art of storytelling. The fact that it started off as stories being told round a campfire. The ability it has to reach people and for it be relatable. The chance we have to create worlds, have fun and at create the gates to open dialogue.
What is something that is important for you to be communicating through your movies? I can't put my finger on something particular, however I’d like to raise issues, bring up que