An artist, a performer, a video: DID U CUM YET / I’M NOT GONNA CUM by Tom Heyes, aka Blackhaine, and Richie Culver is an unconventional artistic liaison based on Culver’s artwork ‘DID U CUM YET?’ and extended by Heyes‘ multidisciplinary skills.
To celebrate the exclusive release of the accompanying video, assembled by British/Belgian filmmaker William Markarian-Martin, we present you an excerpt of the feature in the new Spring/Summer 21 issue of Numero Berlin.
Words by Jazmina Figueroa
Both Heyes and Culver seem to recognize the significance of driving responses from an audience; in their respective works, they share an intuitive approach for initiating provocation, then swiftly move away from it. This similarity is presumably what brought about their recent audiovisual collaboration with two tracks titled DID U CUM YET/I’M NOT GONNA CUM (2021) and was released by UK record label and creative studio, Participant. DID U CUM YET/I’M NOT GONNA CUM was a continuation of Richie Culver’s notorious painting, DID U CUM YET? (2019) and contains allusions to memories of partying, using drugs and having sex. Emotionally charged with sensations equivalent to resentment or numbness, the album and accompanying video work intertwines choreography with prose and is soundtracked by throbbing ephemeral pulsation produced by Heyes to describe disappointing moments shortly after engaging in such high-strung and abrasive activities.
Shot between Preston bus station and car park in Heyes’s northern UK hometown, Salford, and Barcelona, Spain, DID U CUM YET/I’M NOT GONNA CUM, the accompanying poem, formulates a story around sex, small-time gangsters, and his memories of growing up when Heyes “was running around and fucking punching people.” Although the notion of sex in the text is used as a functional device to depict numb moments as well, Heyes wanted the second track, I’M NOT GONNA CUM, to be repetitively boring. Sex can be dull and monotonous, similar to an existential struggle with stagnancy.
Heyes wrote the text while spending a month in Barcelona during the height of lockdown, where he was getting drunk every day. At times, he felt like he wanted to jump off the balcony of his apartment, reminding him of feeling depressed when sitting at bus stations back home. At the peak of his stay, his thinking shifted focus to a huge brutalist building in his hometown and where he remembered witnessing people jump off of there all the time.
“The work can’t be described and the reaction to it can go in so many different ways. I’m feeling through my work, I want to manipulate people’s mental state with choreography. But for something more specific like time, place and anecdotes, [writing] plays a big part, I want to jot it down,” Heyes says about his instinctive process, “nothing is intentional, it’s just how it is. It’s just north England.”
Heyes says that he wanted DID U CUM YET/I’M NOT GONNA CUM to be boring, but Culver associates the roughness traversing through Heyes’s work to the genre of horror, comparing the way Heyes moves his body to an exorcism. They had both been daily confronted with an expression or struggle with hardness (and its associated guilt) in their formative experiences.
Concept – Richie Culver
Writer & Producer (Audio) – Blackhaine, Micheal-Jon Mizra
Film Director – William Markarian-Martin, Blackhaine
Camera – Patric Kuo, Joseph Reay-Reid (Bruxism) and Louis Ellis
Editor: William Markarian-Martin
Film Producer: William Makarian-Martin for PARTICIPANT
Title Design – Chris Curran