John Court, Finland / England

John Court

“V”, DigitaLive 2014,
Photo: Jiayi Chen


John Court was born in 1969 in Bromley, in the county of Kent in England. He graduated from Camberwell School of Art, London in 1994 and from Norwich School of Art and Design in 1997 with a 1st class Honours degree in Sculpture.

He moved to Finland in 1997, and lives and works in Lapland, close to the Arctic Circle. He was recently awarded a prestigious three year grant by the Arts Council of Finland.

His output includes performance, sculpture and Video, but he considers all his work to be fundamentally concerned with drawing, in that drawing connects the elements of line, movement, space and time.
Time is also a particularly significant element of his performances – endurance pieces always based on the unit of the eight hour working day.

John Court deals with issues of physical endurance by pushing his body to its absolute limits. A recent work which took place north of the Arctic Circle involved walking 200 metres in a straight line over 8 hours.

In this 8 hour performance for Liverpool, he creates a drawing as his body comes into contact with 2000 pencil leads on 3 square metres of paper until there is a recording left by the movement. Liverpool Live, Liverpool Biennial 2004 Live Art Programme catalogue

John Court suffers from severe dyslexia (reading disability). He began drawing at the age of nineteen, using it as a means to comprehend and come to terms with the difficulties and negative experiences he had gone through at school, thereby gaining self-confidence and learning to read and write in his own way.

Letters appear to him as interesting visual forms rather than comprehensible symbols; and letters and words, the mastering of them through repetition, playing with their meanings, and creating new meanings, are central to the drawings and performances of John Court.

Court’s performances have captivated audiences worldwide at events such as Infr’Action Venezia in Venice Italy (2013) SpaceX Gallery Exeter in UK (2012) Guangzhou Live Art Festival in China, ANTI Contemporary Art Festival in Finland (both 2010), the Venice Biennale (2005) and the Liverpool Biennial (2004).


In this performance we will witness the artist bringing together other aspects of his interdisciplinary practice including sculpture and drawing. The performance can be seen as a way of marking time as we witness the artist pushing his body beyond exhaustion. Throughout the performance slight movements will provide the only sounds as the artist remains silent, void of engagement with the audience.

Court will interweave personal experiences encountered throughout his life, from childhood to the present day. We will witness interactions with modified versions of familiar objects encountered throughout education such as desks, dictionaries, pencils and paper that will only function with support from the artist. Encounters with these objects will reference the difficulties that Court encountered throughout his education, the artist left school unable to read or write. The physical endurance of the 8 hour day references his experience of manual labour, having worked on building sites in and around London for many years before being introduced to art. We will then experience elements of alienation and solitude, referencing Court’s experience of living in rural Lapland, unable to speak, read or write the native language.

Court will also reference his relationship with the space in part by responding directly to its unique architecture. Spontaneous acts will reference the moment in which the artist finds himself.

This work offers an insight into the process Court endures in producing his work, some individual pieces taking up to 400 hours to complete.

Comments are closed.