THE SHADOW CONTENT
On the understanding that our greatest insights are often born from our darkest experiences, we allow ‘that which drives us to create’ to probe deeper into the shadow content of our psyche. And from the internal chaos we emerge: broken soldiers and lost visionaries with our bodies wounded, fragmented and exposed. For us however, these images do not present the trauma of violence, nor the tragedy of death, but the experience of our heroic selves, our fears conquered, embracing our fate in a momentary state of higher being.
From "In Pursuit Of The Gods" exhibition catalogue.
Theatre is truly the crucible of all artistic expression. Though I'd long had a relationship with the stage, my passion
for theatre proper was ignited in 2009 when I moved to Lisbon and encountered a shabby venue and a somewhat lethargic resident company in need of new energy. Over an eight year period Estrela Hall became the focus of my creativity. Challenging and sometimes bruising though theatres often are, the effort bore fruit and within a few years
the vibrant Teatro Ingles toasted its official recognition by Lisbon City Council as being of 'significant cultural value'.
Through the Teatro Ingles and other companies including Produçoes Prospero, Feltro Preto and Espaço Aguncheiras,
I learned a great deal about the practical aspects of programming content, producing shows and entertaining audiences. Working alongside accomplished directors such as the brilliant RADA alumni Valerie Braddell and highly respected designers such as Clare Lyth inspired me greatly and gave me confidence to tackle various design, direction and production roles, not just in theatre but in many projects beyond.
Below: set and costumes for Lisbon's English Theatre production of 'Hamlet'
[directed by Jonathan Weightman, designed by Chase Valentin]
Below: set & costumes for 'The Man Outside'
[Directed by Rebecca Steingraber, designed and co-directed Chase Valentin]
Digital Image & Filmmaking
It was not until my late-twenties that the truly extraordinary and rapid development of tech changed the game for artists and producers. Up until that point, filmmaking, photography and audio had been solidly analogue, and celluloid still reigned supreme. Materials were still prohibitively expensive, as were studio time and production costs. Even the printing of posters and flyers, involving either screen or litho print, required a fairly large outlay that was prohibitive to many independent producers.
But around the turn of the Millennium all that began to change. In 1998 Apple released the iMac G3 and the world became
a different place. A year later, after a lot of effort and bartering of paintings with avant-garde tech wizards, I launched my own website and virtual gallery. Very few had the ability to access it of course, and those that did would have to wait a very, very long time for the images to load - but suddenly I was able to showcase my work all around the world. From that time on I realised that in order to survive in the arts I had to keep my finger on the pulse of developments. Over the next decade personal computers, digital cameras and audiovisual equipment advanced their footing and with each new step my interest in what I could do with these tools increased. In 2008 in collaboration with Italian experimentalists Luca Cattaneo & Piero Arancia,
I produced material for broadcast on the fledgling VR platform Second Life.
Arthouse cinema has long been a passion, and my work across all disciplines has been greatly influenced by auteur filmmakers such as Pasolini, Fellini, Visconti, Tarkovsky, Von Trier, Greenaway and Kubrick. With the release of Final Cut Pro software in 2011, filmmaking became infinity more possible. I began to tackle more ambitious projects, scripting a series of short films that drew on influences while exploring my own personal narrative. My first was an expressionist montage shot in and around my studio in Valencia. La Nevera Triptych was shot over a period of three days, with each day portraying a troubled artist seeking to unburden his anguish. It was released both as a five and a fifteen minute version, the latter of which was screened at London's Shortwave Cinema. This was followed by a number of similarly experimental films that led to a productive collaboration with cinematographer Francisco Desiderio, producing portrait documentaries that were featured at the ShortCutz Film Festival. Several of these works featured music and soundtracks that I wrote, played and engineered under the name Civilian Ten.
Above: Expressionist montage 'La Nevera Triptych'
Below: other short film and documentary projects produced & directed by Chase Valentin.
Civilian Ten compositions for film
Below: portrait documentary The Woman, The Machine
[collaboration with Francisco Desiderio Oliveira and LabRats Films]
Photography & Art Direction
My previous experience with photography came through my work as a media and events stylist in the 1990s. This was an altogether more rigid practice involving complex lighting and tedious hours of stylists and models primping and preening. In exploring digital photography, I found a preference for shooting expressive actors and dancers, and found the majority of my material and subjects in theatres. As with all my work across all disciplines, I sought through photography to reflect something of my underlying creative narrative. Rather than seek locations, I created mini-sets and more often than not, I used single light or ambient theatrical sources. To inspire movement, emotional context was given. Two key collections were produced for publication: 'A Hundred Immortals' representing ancient greek deities, and 'Melted Into Air' - a collection of backstage images.
Above: Selection of images from 'A Hundred Mortals' collection of studio photography
Below from top to bottom:
Ersa, goddess of the morning dew / Elpis, spirit of hope / Nemesis, goddess of revenge
While lyrics and poetry flow from me fairly easily, prose has always been a challenge so in 2011, I wrote and published a collection of Flash Fiction under the title 'Memory Lane Massacre'. Five hundred copies were left at museums and galleries across London and are still finding their way to second-hand bookshops as far away as Nevada, USA. A copy is held in the National Library of Wales. Material from this project also went on to be developed as one-act plays and recitations for staging at Blacks Members Club in Soho. It is currently undergoing a re-write for performance at storytelling events.
MEMORY LANE MASSACRE
THE COUNCIL OF HATE [Excerpt]
In split second magnificence it blasted towards me. My eyes flashed open, and there it was, clear as a bell – the brutal end of my innocence. The despicable deeds and words of the man who sought to kill me branded my retina and in my ears. I felt my body brace as I fell from his arms. I tasted metallic fear. And I heard him bring to an end my childhood in one word; one solitary word, thudding and thick, pounding on my ear like a gunshot blast and clinking off the tongue like a spent shell hitting the deck: ‘Cunt.’ He spat. Then darkness fell.
THE KNOCK AT YOUR DOOR [Excerpt]
The golden host conducts the day – a son et lumière for her alone. He had lifted the misty skirts of the crystal Wye to reveal jewelled garters of luscious green and pools of copper-kettle sheen. Now birdsong metals the tone of the hush while the breeze pipes its song. The sun’s heat takes him to the shade of an ancient cherry tree, where he lies looking up at the sky through branches that pluck pizzicato light on the dizzying white-hot strings of the burning star. His lungs fill with oxygen, his head with perfume. The sky is unbearably blue. This is a beautiful morning to die.
THE PERFUMER [Excerpt]
They say he strives to make sweet the odour of humanity but from the hilltop comes the occasional breeze that brings with it traces of his chemistry. Those who would wish the fruit of his labours be sweet, would bear the scent not well. Wrapped in the solitude of his private occult, the Perfumer smells no other fragrance but that of his own godless faeces. He strides with lust into the shit that blocks the sewer beneath his conscious soul. He explores universal rot, distills the musk and bile of trauma and bottles without revulsion, confections of its raw vile stench.
THE COMFORT OF BREATH [Excerpt]
This, you will be pleased to hear, is my last performance. I simply don’t have the heart for it anymore. And so please, for once, I hope you do!’ There is a ripple of mirth as he swings the straps of the accordion over his shoulders, cracks his knuckles and smoothes down his hair. With a sniff like the tap of a conductor‘s baton, he squeezes out a rude sharp cough to announce the overture. There is a light flutter of applause as he unclips the concertinaed bulk and allows its lungs to fill with a slow deep breath. And silently, steadily, the lungs draw air. Silently, steadily, they exhale. Silently, steadily, the lungs draw air. Silently, steadily, they exhale...
Music & Performance
Having lost the appetite for performing live at aged twenty one, I wasn't expecting to return to the stage, especially in middle age, but my one-off hosting in 2018 of a Rocky Horror night as the exotic Vladamir Amira let the cat quite literally out of the bag. The following year, at the grand old age of fifty-two, I landed a gig as Rum Tum Tugger in a musical theatre production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats, directed by Rain Malone-Hallett. Suddenly and unexpectedly it reignited my interest in performance. In 2019 I began hosting and performing at various open mic sessions and then took to the stage as vocalist and producer for two concerts celebrating the songs of David Bowie. Most recently I have recorded an album of Bowie songs. Work now is underway on a solo repertoire of dark cabaret by the likes of Jacque Brel, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone.
Community Arts & Education
Irisbranca Project 2010 - 2015
In 2010 I developed IRISBRANCA, an initiative to encourage and facilitate creative exchange with young artists across a range of disciplines in Lisbon, Portugal. A spacious basement garage served as the studio, stocked with choice audiovisual hardware and software. Over five years the project brought together a variety of film, drama and dance companies to develop more than thirty highly diverse productions. Through my cross-discipline activities with the project, I was invited in 2013 to mentor arts and cinematography students of Lusofona and Bellas Artes Universities.
Fishguard 2017 -
Having left my native Wales aged twenty-one. I returned in 2017 specifically to enjoy a sense of community and to put my creativity to beneficial use. I chose to settle in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire primarily because of its energetic and friendly people. and its bohemian magic. Since moving there I have lent support to a number of organisations including the town's Arts, Film and Musical Theatre Societies, Best Foot Forward Drama Group, Bad Habits Choir, Aberjazz Festival and various individual projects, artists and performers. In 2020 I produced a show for the Aberjazz Festival in Pembrokeshire, scheduled for Spring 2021. On the back of that I formed a vocal ensemble called ZookBox proposed to offer entertainment to nursing homes and out of reach communities. My main focus over the last three years however, has been the town's community-owned theatre. A 180 seater auditorium with proscenium stage that although has been used mostly as a cinema, has more recently been exploring its live event potential. 2020 has been a testing time. The battle to reenergise it continues.
News & Contact
Various publications will soon be available to view and purchase on this site
along with links to my full portfolio of work.
If you wish to make contact, please email. Thanks for your interest.
All work featured on this site © Chase Valentin