Instability Strip: Writing, Flesh and Paradox in Research Performance


performance as research, knowledge-in-action, writing in and about performance, paradox as method in creative arts research


In this paper I argue that the relation of flesh and writing in the paradoxical time and space of research performance can be productive of difference. I draw examples from a series of my original research performance works The Bride Stripped Bare (2003-5), Event Horizon (2009) and Instability Strip (2010). Based on a common core text, each focused on different dilemmas of the representation, perception and reception of pain through a series of non-identical iterations. In each new presentation, the performer's flesh - my flesh - was brought into a differently paradoxical relation with text, with other elements of performance composition and with co-present others. The results were sometimes painful, sometimes pleasurable, but always surprising.

Writing about performance labours to recreate the moment of engagement. Writing within performance sustains unstable relationships with other compositional elements, including other kinds of writing. Writing stands either side of a space that cannot now be filled: it is not my intention to force it to stand in for what is absent. Rather, I want to draw attention to the potential of unstable performance encounters for fleshing out imagined change, staying in excess of processes of textualisation that attempt its capture through syntactical iteration.

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