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 questions/bring light on to things. I think it's a skill in itself to be able to create something you don't really have feelings towards or care about. Not a skill I have.
You recently premiered your short film, BLOOM, in London and Copenhagen. What can you tell us about the film? It’s a coming of age short film about four teenage girls: Sabrina, Rianne, Tracey, and Ruby. We enter the world of these girls at a point in their lives when they are just beginning to grapple with the greater issues of adulthood.Their world is a mélange of school subjects, dance routines, music, and the looming issue of sex. In this film we get to see how they manage themselves internally and together as friends. As their summer comes to an end, we realize that the sun may also be setting on a part of their youth that they will never be able to get back.
“There's enough room for us all to shine”
Illustration by Zoe Thomas for BLOOM
What inspired you to write a movie told mainly from the teenage female point-of-view? I’m a sucker for a good coming of age film. So I wanted to do one. Then I wanted the challenge of writing from a female point of view, hopefully creating three dimensional female characters, something I don't feel we see often enough. It's a film for everyone and I think people understand that when they see it. However there is also a strong part of it I dedicate to females. To the queens who molded me to be the person I am today. To those I am blessed to be able to work with and have friendships with. Those who inspire me everyday. It's a film for my younger sister and her friends, girls I've been with in the past, whom I wish I knew the things I know now. Almost like a gift and I’d attach the words “I’m with you”— to it.
BLOOM seems to have evolved into a much bigger project now involving artists from all over the world. How did this happen? Was it something you were planning or did it take on a life of its own? No not at all. An important part of writing for me, is using universal themes. So once the script was completed and I had a moodboard set, I realized a lot of the moodboard was from creatives whose work I enjoyed. So I decided to share the script with some artists and pitched them this rough idea of doing an exhibition inspired on themes raised in the film. The artists loved it and felt like it was something they could do. Then universal means universal right? ;)
What motivated you to take the show a step further in Copenhagen? Regarding a more involved and beautiful set up complete with plants, flowers and all… Growth is important. I really care about the project and the fact so many artists are sharing stories and moments that are sacred and quite revealing is extremely humbling. Shows they believe in the project too, so I'm doing everything I can to get it and their work seen. The plants were involved in the first London event, but not in the same way. However it all starts with the analogy of BLOOM. Special thanks to Polina, Silvia, Nick, from Danish Platform, Girls Are Awesome & Mads, Morten for all being legends and making Copenhagen happen. Forever grateful to them.
How did you get all these artists involved with your movie? The script & kindness.
What’s next for BLOOM? Film festivals, I've really slacked on submitting it to them, haven't applied to any! So that's one of the main aims now. Hopefully they like it. Whilst still putting on these exhibitions, the energies at these exhibitions are beautiful and I’d like to share it with as many people as possible in this way.
“Feminism means equality to me. Black lives matter means equality to me again.”
Illustration by Katty Huertas for BLOOM
You have an exciting project releasing soon! What can you tell us about this? Yeah we got a few things coming out which is super exciting. Essentially we want to share/give an insight to what has been a beautiful experience with as many people as possible. It's all in the lead up to our next Exhibition & Screening on the 9th February at Copeland Gallery, London. Which will be our biggest event to date. With the help of curators; Jessica Wang, Natasha Hastings & Victoria Valcheva, we have come with an awesome curation. Not to forget the artist who have come on board for this event and who have created AMAZING work!
What are the main obstacles you have had to overcome as an artist? The financial aspect of it. As it gotten bigger it needs to become sustainable which is difficult when trying to maintain the artistic and organic essence of it. But that’s the life of an artist, which I understand. Especially at the beginning.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have to keep the creative juices flowing? There's a few. I tend to find a song or an album that has a certain mood in relation to the thing I'm writing and then I’ll just have it on repeat forever. Then also leaving London/home. It helps a lot to clear the mind.
Are you currently working on any other movies? ‘It’s the little things’ that's the title of the next movie I'm working on. It looks at parallel universes and a few other themes. Super super excited to get shooting, it's another one I don't directly relate to, but still do in some way.
Anything else you’d like to add? Julia De La Torre is a legend and I love Howl Mag and everything she's doing with it. Julia helped us with our first two events!
Still from short film "Bloom", 2016
“I dedicate [this film]to females. To the queens who molded me to be the person I am today. To those I am blessed to be able to work with and have friendships with. Those who inspire me everyday. It's a film for my younger sister and her friends, girls I've been with in the past, whom I wish I knew the things I know now. Almost like a gift and I’d attach the words “I’m with you”— to it.”
Still from short film "Bloom", 2016
Check Out the Trailer for BLOOM Below!
Some more of BLOOM's Artists
Illustration by Jordyn Mcgeachin for BLOOM
Illustration by Zoe Thomas for BLOOM
Illustration by Zoe Thomas for BLOOM
Illustration by Agatha Sorlet for BLOOM
Illustration by Lydia Starkey for BLOOM
Illustration by Katy Huertas for BLOOM
Illustration by Anna Higgins for BLOOM
Illustration by Ieva Ragauskaite for BLOOM
Dont Miss Their Next Exhibition & Screening
Feb. 9th 2017
133 Copeland Park London