LEO KAY Task Update - The project evolves into an exploration of human relationships with plants


LEO KAY TASK UPDATE #01 The project evolves into an exploration of human relationships with plants.


Leo Kay’s original task was to get us to look at THE WHYS OF WHAT WE DO, to enter into an enquiry about our motivations for the way we make work, what drives us to do it and what it means.. see HERE for more information about the original task, and HERE for more information about LEO KAY.

After many sporadic meetings in various locations across London, the project took on another form as we discussed the many implications of creating art in the shadow of Climate Change and out of control global Neo-Liberalism. As part of this conversation, Leo gave us a text by Michael Marder, Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country called ‘IS IT ETHICAL TO EAT PLANTS?’ This paper started a whole discourse about the relationships we humans have to the plant kingdom and to the ‘natural world’ in general. From this point, the project changed from being about what we do as individual artists to what we do as a species, and how this species impacts and has impacted on the natural world throughout history.

We decided to create a series of artistic actions in which we playfully look at our current relationships with plants and what they might be in the future. This is typified by an idea which would consist of a durational performance in which we would ‘plant’ ourselves in the ground and register our reactions on an emotional level. Other ideas consist of us ‘collaborating’ with plants on artistic projects, musical or otherwise.

The aim of the process is to learn more about ourselves through the interaction with and observation of plant behaviour and born out of both a desire to become ‘better humans’ through learning from our plant cousins and as an absurdist response to the ecological crisis that we find ourselves in. 

‘In the face of climate change and the subsequent impact on life on the planet, humanity needs new stories surrounding its position, role, and responsibilities. This project aims at re-interpreting the possible relational experience that exists between all living things, in the hope that these post-colonial actions of de-conditioning, of listening and of increased respect, can lead to the construction of new stories to take us into a positive possible future.’

See the MICHAEL MARDER website to read the paper and other interesting stuff about plant related philosophy, scroll down the PDF texts page to find this one.

See below for image of one the processes which involves the presentation of specially devised dramatic performances aimed at plants.





This task is a collaborative process, devised by artist/performance practitioner Leo Kay. The task will explore the drivers behind the art we make and the ideas we present with the express intention of giving time, time to deepen, strengthen and enhance understanding of self and connect creative, political and personal intention. The process will engage writing, dialogue and visual expression of ideas and will culminate in a final practical exposure of the task’s transactions, the nature and structure of which will emerge from the process.
The first part of the task is to answer this set of  7 questions. When this is done we are to create a series of ‘venn diagrams’ to illustrate where the concepts and ideas exposed in the answers of KEELER and TORNERO intersect.
1. What do you feel passionate about. i.e. what do you love/want to see more of in the world, want to protect within your own experience, love to do, need space for?
2. Why do you make art?
3. What is art for right now. Not what has it been for in the past but from your perspective right now?
4. What are the strengths of KEELERTORNERO’s practice?
5. What are the weaknesses of KEELERTORNERO’s practice?
6. Does art have social responsibility? If yes why? If no why not?
7. Why have you designed KT Lab?

A first draft of the KEELERTORNERO Mind Map

Leo Kay works within the medium of participatory performance and theatre. He has journeyed through physical theatre, dance theatre and directed many spoken word artists and MC’s. As a performance maker and director of his own company, his work explores intimate, site specific and participatory performance practice.
Kay is co-founder of London based performance company Unfinished Business (UB), a long standing collaboration between himself as artist/director and artist/producer Anna Smith. UB makes live art and theatre across the UK and Internationally. They work with an evolving team of collaborators making interactive and intimate performance, excavating autobiographical material as a starting point for projects. Alongside artists and non-artists they explore new collective spaces for dialogue, ritual and the creation of shared meaning aiming to question systemic hierarchies and explore alternative political structures.
He is currently engaged in a Post-Masters at The Performance and Scenographic Institute of A.PASS in Brussels: A unique educational context that nurtures self organisation and collaboration, engaging  artists from many different fields in the creation of a body of personal artistic research. Within this he explores the process of fermentation as a dramaturgical framework, using the analysis of micro organic growth to find metaphors for human action and communication.