Panel: SENSORIUM: Interdisciplinary Practices of Embodiment and Technology
“What makes for a livable world is no idle question. It is not merely a question for philosophers. Somewhere in the answer we find ourselves not only committed to a certain view of what life is, and what it should be, but also of what constitutes the human” (Judith Butler Undoing Gender)
“In fact, all my work emanates from one big question: how can we live in a world that we don’t understand?”
_Annie Abrahams, in interview with Maria Chatzichristodoulou
This paper explores the work of French-based pioneer of networked performance art Annie Abrahams, in relation to notions of intimacy in mediated performance practice. Specifically, it explores two of Abrahams’s pieces: Shared Still Life/Nature Morte Partagee (2010) and L’Un La Poupee de L’Autre (One the Puppet of the Other) (2007). The paper suggests that, unlike a plethora of other technologised practices, Abrahams’s work resists the celebration of utopic notions of the technologies of connectivity and interactivity. Instead, its focus is on broken links and miscommunications, that is, the failure of both technological and human connectivity. The article argues that the acceptance of failure as an element that is embedded in the make-up of networks is what renders Abrahams’s Internet embodied and visceral, “an Internet of feeling” (as termed by Ruth Catlow in her essay accompanying Abrahams’ If Not You Not Me exhibition at the HTTP Gallery in London). It further argues in favour of a “banality” that characterises Abrahams’s work. This banality is not the safe zone of intimacy identified by Dominic Johnson in his recent lecture Live Art and Body Modification, but a far more troubling manifestation of it. Finally, the article proposes that Abrahams belongs to a generation of female artists who, as Morse has suggested, seek to challenge their very artistic medium.
- Maria Chatzichristodoulou (a.k.a. Maria X) is a cultural practitioner (curator, producer, performer, and writer). Maria holds a PhD in Art and Computational Technologies from Goldsmiths Digital Studios, University of London, UK. She is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at the School of Arts and New Media, University of Hull (Scarborough campus). In the past Maria taught at the University of London colleges Goldsmiths, Birkbeck and Queen Mary, and Richmond the International American University. She also worked as a Community Officer at The Albany (South London). Maria was co-founder and co-director of the international media arts festival Medi@?terra, and Fournos Centre for Digital Culture in Athens, Greece (1996-2002). While in Greece, she also performed with Diplous Eros Ensemble and with the director Syllas Tzoumerkas. In London, Maria initiated and co-directed, together with Rachel Zerihan, the festival and symposium Intimacy: Across Digital and Visceral Performance in 2007 at Goldsmiths, Laban, The Albany, Home London and online. Maria is co-editor of the volume Interfaces of Performance (Ashgate, 2009). She has lectured and published widely.