On Monday we had a seminar with Conall Gleeson that was inspirational on many levels as it asked us to link theory and practice in exciting and challenging ways. I would like to tell you about the seminar and then reflect on how some of the ideas are beginning to feed into developing my performance piece, Not a Séance particularly by using crisps.
Conall played us The Overture from Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. The Ballet had prompted riots when it was premiered in Paris in 1913 and the central theme is of the sacrifice of a young woman to benefit the community. He then asked us to consider an event from the same year in England when Emily Wilding Davison through herself in front of the King’s horse at The Epsom Derby. This was her final act as a suffragette having previously been imprisoned and force fed, she sacrificed her life. We discussed these two very different examples of sacrifice of the female body and then went on to do a close reading of The Vanishing Bodies of Fundamentalism, a chapter from Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s Commonwealth.
This chapter describes how fundamentalism with its focus on restricting what the body can do and what can be seen ,simultaneously negates the body and gives it transcendental value. They say “fundamentalisms make bodies vanish insofar as they are revealed to be not really the objects of obsessive attention but merely signs of transcendant forms or essences that stand above them”
We then discussed bio-politics and the idea that perhaps performance art is one of the only places where the body can just be a body. This reminds me of George Bataille’s “The End of Metaphor”. Connall asked us to link the ideas we had been discussing to our own work and we were encouraged to create a piece of performance.
My thoughts immediately lept to potatoes and what they might represent and stand for in my piece as well as the idea of fundamentalism being an extreme set of beliefs. There were no potatoes in the cafeteria so I bought two packets of crisps. How does a crisp relate to the body of the potato?