Jesse Jones: On My Culture Radar
The artist on her love of historical culture, Olwen Fouéré and her guilty TV pleasure
Jesse Jones: “I only like social media when it feels genuine; I don’t follow influencers.” Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography
Current favourite book
I’m in the middle of reading a book my friend bought me called Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. It’s about a village in the south of France in the 1300s, and it describes everyday life, like how people farmed and grazed their animals. I love cultural historical books like that, where you find out how you would have had your breakfast hundreds of years ago. I like understanding the residues of those times and how it relates to the way we live now.
I love Kimchi Hophouse on Parnell Street, which is not so much a restaurant as my second home. I love their soy potato roll, which the owner invented. It’s cream cheese, crisps and three different types of potato rolled together as a sushi – the most Irish-Korean fusion possible. It probably has 2,000 calories in it, but it’s worth it.
I recently saw Oona Doherty’s Hard to be Soft in the Abbey Theatre. The show drew from her experience growing up in the North; you can hear voiceovers in the background about how people deal with male structures of power. I saw it was a week before the referendum and there was so much tension and things that couldn’t be articulated, that it was more incredible to see such a powerful moment coming from women’s bodies.
Last week, I went to the opening of Rachel Maclean’s Just Be Yourself! in Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, part of which was the work that represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale last year. She’s makes these crazy films saturated with references to popular culture, but there’s such a darkness and violence to them that it makes you realise that we’re surrounded by dark and violent images all the time.
I spent about two months in Venice last year, during and after the Biennale, and it’s incredible. It relates to my obsession of wanting to feel like you could be in any moment in history. The soundscape would be exactly the same as there’s no cars – you only realise after a couple of days that there’s something different. The Biennale of Architecture is on now, so I wouldn’t mind going in the next few weeks.
The only time I ever listen to music on my own is in the studio. It has to not take too much narrative attention away from me, I have to still be engaged in the thing I’m doing, so John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is the best. I walk in the studio in the morning, put a coffee on, and put that album on. That’s the start of my day for the rest of summer.
Olwen Fouéré is my favourite actor in every way. Olwen on film, Olwen live, Olwen performing. Everything she does is incredible. She carries a shared memory in every gesture, so it has so much history loaded into it. She’s currently in a production called What if Women Ruled the World? in Berlin, and I’m trying to get over to see it.
I listen to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time; I love the sound of his voice. You can hear about Frederick Douglass, or the cosmos, or religion in the sixth century – there’s such a pick’n’mix of topics he engages with.
Social media profile
I only like social media when it feels genuine; I don’t follow influencers. During the referendum, there was a closed discussion group on Facebook called Parents for Choice, and because it was closed, people shared really intimate things. It wasn’t a space for politics, but a space for personal stories, encouragement and friendship.
My guilty pleasure is The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Season four just came out, and I’m three episodes in. It’s so political in subtle ways, it has a silliness to it too, and it has a lot of heart. You don’t often see American TV that riffs on gentrification and the struggles of living in a major city, yet it manages to make it all hilarious.
- Tremble Tremble runs at the Project Arts Centre until July 18th. Admission is free. projectartscentre.ie