Gemma Paintin & James Stenhouse are two artists who collaborate together under the name Action Hero. Action Hero’s work is always experimenting with form, and as a result their work expands across multiple creative practices, including performance, installation, sound, digital practice and work for public space.
Action Hero’s long-form collaborative partnership has taken them to nearly 40 countries across Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia and to as diverse as PS122 in New York, Theatre De La Ville in Paris, 21st Century Museum in Japan, an abandoned art deco cinema in Bangkok and a Satan’s Riders Motorcycle Clubhouse in Tasmania. Their ongoing interests lie in the iconography of popular culture and its use; both as a weapon and as a shared cultural memory, and the languages/texts that are used to talk about these shared spaces.
Their work is always engaged with how people meet in the live moment, and how human-to-human exchange takes place within the frame of an artwork. They regularly work with processes and mediums with which they are unfamiliar, which often sees them navigating through new technical and creative territories.
Action Hero won an Austin (Texas) Critic’s Table Award for Best Touring Show, and were shortlisted for the 2016 Anti Festival International Prize for Live Art. They have two books published by Oberon, and have written essays for several more, including the 21st Century Performance Reader. They’ve taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level as visiting lecturers at several UK universities, and have led master classes world-wide.
Since 2018, the company have been undertaking their largest project to date: a journey through every country in Europe in their campervan, recording strangers singing love songs, and broadcasting them across the continent.
Action Hero are currently an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.