The Vacuum Cleaner

the vacuum cleaner is an art and activism collective of one. Working across art-forms: including performance, installation and film, the artist addresses challenging and taboo issues such as consumerism and mental health. From one-man shows to large-scale participatory actions, his approach is both subtle and extreme, but always candid, provocative and playful.

His work has been exhibited internationally and commissioned by: Tate Modern, ICA and Nottingham Contemporary. His films have been commissioned by BBC4 and Channel 4. He co-founded the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (2004 - 2009) and is an Artsadmin Artist

  • Image (c) The Vacuum Cleaner

    Still from Mental

  • Image by Sophie Nathan

    Mental

  • Image (c) The Vacuum Cleaner

    Still of medical notes

  • Image (c) The Vacuum Cleaner

    Projection from Mental

Contact details

James Leadbitter
Artist

Unit 17, Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, London, E1 6AB

Productions

Mental

Duration: 65
Number of people on road: 2 or 3 depending on length of time away from home.
Freight: Freight necessary

Freight details:

Freight ideal. 2 mid size cases. Excess baggage possible with some objects excluded.
Within western Europe we travel by Train.

Description

The Metropolitan Police call him a Domestic Extremist. The NHS have described him as ‘highly disturbed’ and labelled him with Borderline Personality Disorder. ‘A real and present threat to the safe running of our lawful business’ is how E.ON described him at the Royal Courts of Justice.

He prefers the term Mental.

After 13 years of being an outlaw and inpatient, artist activist ‘the vacuum cleaner’ presents an autobiographical performance told through his psychiatric records, police intelligence files and corporate injunctions collected through the Data Protection Act.

This show contains material some may find challenging, and is not suitable for people under the age of 16.

Extra information

Mental can be staged in a bedroom, which is the ideal location, or small studio or similar space. Within a bedroom audience capacity is between 12 to 25 (depending on the size of the room).

the vacuum cleaner will tour with his producer who greets the audience and manages the space, and a career/PA for longer trips.

Set up time - The day before the rst performance.


Designed by Sophie Nathan.
Originally developed with Tania El Khoury.

Wrap-around work

I Went Mental And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.’ A 1-hour performative artist talk about the recent work ‘the vacuum cleaner’ has been undertaking around his own and others’ Neurodiversity and Mental Health. Originally commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary.

Madlove: A Designer Asylum. Workshop. A workshop designed for artists and people with Mental Health conditions, exploring different methods of working and producing work whilst experiencing mental distress and pain.

James is also one half of DJ collective People Like Us, and is happy to play a short set (maximum 3.5 hours) during any festival parties. soundcloud.com/peoplelikeusdj

Madlove: A Designer Asylum. Workshop. A workshop designed for artists and people with Mental Health conditions, exploring different methods of working and producing work whilst experiencing mental distress and pain.

James is also one half of DJ collective People Like Us, and is happy to play a short set (maximum 3.5 hours) during any festival parties. soundcloud.com/peoplelikeusdj

Press Comments & Testimonials

"This essential show is a fascinating, stigma-smashing experience” The Scotsman
 

"Raw, open, powerful... entirely devoid of a sense of self-preservation" The Guardian

"One of the most powerful portraits of creativity and depression I’ve ever seen... a heart-rending journey”
 RealTime Arts.