Friday, 1 October 2010


The body, for me, is a primary site of communication.

A site where empathy can be created between the performer and the viewer. A site of universality and of extreme difference. Each of us - most of us anyways - can sense things, can feel pain, can feel pressure and when a performer is feeling/sensing/hurting within an action, there stands a chance that we - as viewers - might feel/sense and how the performing body might respond.

Body art/live art/action art becomes interesting when the performer undergoes acts of physical endurance, acts that the viewers might usually carry out within their day-to-day lives that are magnified in and examined by the action of the performer. As the artist uses the body, performs actions with it, to it, on it, so we can begin to understand something of the human condition, something of the cultures we produce and something of the way we interact with each other. We can use these endurance art actions to pick apart our everyday lives.

I've become interested in exploring the exhausted body and the body at its limits in my practice and in my writing. As a student I performed in a play entitled "To Begin" (Dir. Dr A. Fenemore 2007); part of the rehearsal process for this play was to workshop rhythms made by jumping, hopping, and skipping as an ensemble until we could no longer continue. The endurance practice became a competition amongst cast members to see who could stay in the game the longest. From time to time, I would observe rather than participate in the practice and what stood out to me was that the performer wanted to maintain the rhythm, to repeat it again and again without deviating from it; the body, however, would not let this happen, exhaustion would impede it and muscle pain prevented the performer from sustain the action with the same conviction. It was noticeable that the playing of the game was exhausting, but the competitive nature of the cast meant that we played it for long periods even though we were aware of the pain it was causing.

At the last ArtEvict I performed in Jamie Lewis Hadley's piece En la esquina tecnica, in which we wrestling chopped each other in the chest until one of us couldn't take it any more (me, inevitably). I read this performance as a comment on pointless violence, masculinity and competitiveness. The competition and the pain were at odds with each other; I wanted to stay in the game for as long as possible but I knew it would hurt further.


  1. I am interested as to why you wanted to 'stay in the game', knowing full well it would hurt more? Was it too expand the duration of what the other(s)would/may experience or was it through some personal desire, or both? I think this is a very important question

  2. I think it was part expectation, people want to see people struggle, it's interesting, like car crashes and other situations where people are in pain. I knew as an audience member I'd want it to go as far as it could, I'd want tears and blood. Retrospectively I wish I'd carried on a little longer, but this is the nature of pain.

    Part of it was because I genuinely wanted to win the game, perhaps for the pride, perhaps because it was the most unlikely ending, perhaps because I believed in commitment and conviction to the action. It was a matter of self-respect at this point rather than appeasing an audience.

  3. Pain makes us aware of a body that we are otherwise unaware of, we don't remember the body we are in until it hurts. Then it becomes a preoccupation to the sufferer.