This is she: tracing potentials of the alterself experience in durational visual art performance

Carpenter, Laurel Jay (2021) This is she: tracing potentials of the alterself experience in durational visual art performance. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Employing a practice-based and performative mode of inquiry, this research examines a particular slippage of identity within durational, visual art performance prompting a reassessment of dominant theories of presence, character and persona. The research builds on common terminology of the alter ego and philosophies of alterity, extending the conception of a segmented, layered or constructed other-self within performance practice. This dichotomy between the I and she of the performance, noticed but never notated over years of my practice, propelled the development of a new body of work, providing a means to narrow in on a conceptualization and definition of the term alterself. The thesis indicates distinctions underdeveloped in the field; a hypothesis of selfness reaching toward alterself is often omitted from visual art discourse or misappropriated from theatrical theory.

The core of the research is located in artistic practice. New visual performance work of various durations, solo and collaborative, situated in an array of public sites provides a cross-section of established methods and techniques from which to identify the alterself, as well as determine the circumstances of its emergence. The experience of the performer is substantiated by reflective and critical analysis of live encounters with other artists’ work, including Amanda Coogan, Kira O’Reilly, John Court, Marina Abramović, Ann Hamilton, collaborative duo Hancock & Kelly, and companies Punchdrunk and Circus Amok. These artists provide a comparative study in at least one strand of investigation in the research: immersion, duration, or visual spectacle. Indeed, conditions of the alterself require a layering of these strands to comprise an embodied scale of connection: a deep focus (micro), a sustained intimacy with another (meso), and a sense of awe or marvel (macro). Experimentation within this range foregrounds the circumstances which allow the seeping potentials of the alterself to flicker into perception.

The thesis also draws on extended interviews with the artists with whom I regularly collaborate, allowing the research to engage additional perspectives within the frame. Each collaborator— Terese Longva from Norway, Philippe Wozniak from Germany and Dr. Robert Bingham from the USA—share their experiences as co-performers, and contribute supplementary questions and insights within the investigation. Longva approaches the research as a fellow durational performer with a visual art background, and Wozniak and Bingham provide alternative perspectives as a musician/composer and dance artist/researcher, respectively. Elaborated from the research process are further linkages to contemporary theorists, including Adam Alston, Claire Bishop, Amy E. Hughes, Adrian Heathfield, Laura U. Marks, Lauren Berlant, Amelia Jones and Erin Manning (with references to John Dewey, Guy Debord, Henri Bergson, Jacques Lacan and Jean-Luc Nancy), which construct a sturdy bricolage of theoretical underpinnings in order to distinguish new conceptual directions of shifting subjectivity in performance identity.

Practice-based aspects of the research, presented internationally at galleries and festivals, are positioned in the field of visual art performance, contributing findings and methods to practitioners and scholars of performance, as well as those in related fields of spatial, durational and social practices. Inclusion in several international conferences, journals and symposia generates further interaction with the fields of Costume Design, Fashion Theory, Visual Cultures and Feminist Studies to unpick larger issues of materiality, embodiment and identity across disciplines. The alterself provides a link between the concrete, corporeal material of performance work and the attributes of the unknowable therein. She is there, embodied, willful, but equally immaterial and fleeting. She is the signified other—inside, intertwined, superimposed—in the performance-reality and to the performer-self. This Is She.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Spectacle, Immersive/Immersion, New Materialism, Feminism, Intimacy, Fine Art / Live Art
Subjects: W100 Fine Art
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2021 08:33
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 08:01

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