Get To Know: Ivan Blackstock

Ivan Blackstock is a man of a great many talents. Raised in Peckham, he trained as a dancer first at The Urdang Academy, and then at London Contemporary Dance School, before co-founding BirdGang Dance Company. He's created work for the likes of The Young Vic, NOWNESS and Dizzee Rascal, and now, through his interdisciplinary art form showcase CRXSS PLATFXRM, Ivan's made it his mission to celebrate street culture in its many guises. We got in touch to find out more. 

Hi Ivan! Okay, how would you describe CRXSS PLATFXRM to the uninitiated? 

CRXSS PLATFXRM is a multi-disciplinary creative platform where you can witness the unseen wave of artists pushing contemporary Street Culture in new directions. Our Summer 2018 event will take place in Peckham - expect to see forward-looking approaches to music, fashion, art, dance and tech from established and under the radar artists. 

Your own background is pretty multi-disciplinary, right? How has your dance background informed your attitude to the cross-pollination of creative forms? 

Meeting Hip Hop definitely opened the floodgates for me, leading to the land of Street Culture and other cross-art forms. As I got older I discovered the internet which I still binge on to this day. I began to understand how to start something from nothing, how to be DIY, and how to use what you have around you. I delved into Hip Hop theatre in my early twenties and became more aware of narrative and how to use this as a tool. Now I found really interesting ways to communicate my work and how I see art. 

At this current time I do actually think cross-pollination is the only way to evolve and keeping fresh and exciting work as there is so much to learn from another culture, style or form.

Not everyone has got the memo on that one, and as a result street culture is way too often relegated to certain spaces. How important is place to CRXSS PLATFXRM events? 

I want to make CRXSS PLATFXRM as responsive to the current creative climate and environment as possible. As Street Culture moves forward at a rapid pace, CRXSS PLATFXRM has to adapt and be flexible so we can also move with the tide. 

We aim to immerse our audience, allowing them space to escape and to wonder. With that in mind we look at curating and programming work in unusual places and through different mediums, but in a safe creative space. Our target audience is young people who can relate to the art and themes that are shown at our event. I want young people and creatives to feel represented and be able to see themselves and their community reflected in the art we present.

How do you do that through curation of your line-ups? 

I start by conceptualising the narrative that I want to form the basis of the event, then all branches and leaves grow from the root of that idea. This helps me build the journey and the experience for the audience. 

Ahh! And the most important thing I do is listen to the artists and audiences and keep my ears to the ground to hear what is trembling on the streets. If you don't do that you can easily miss that latest thing.

What are the best and worst things about being an artist in London right now? 

London has always been a hotbed of talent and right now it's popping off more than ever. It's a place where there is something for everyone and amazing collaborations are happening on your doorstep. 

The downside is that there is not enough access to education for artists and creatives in showing them how to access funds or other creative ways to break through to new audiences. Some artists and creatives are struggling and very few are learning how to access money and resources from other areas to stay self-sufficient.

Having said that, right now we're seeing lots of young Londoners creating small collectives and building to fill that gap so there is hope. 

Who inspires you within your creative community? 

Look up Jenn Nkiru! She is going to do big things in film.

What are 5 tracks that get you motivated? 

This is hard...but this is the current top 5 I think. 

Kaaris 'Charge (Mr Carmack remix)'

Erykah Badu 'I been going thru it all' 

Jaden Smith 'Icon'

eu-IV 'Get_$'

Kojey Radical 'PRELUDE : E.N.A'

Follow Ivan on Twitter
Follow CRXSS PLATFXRM on Twitter