[ISEA2011] Panel: Maria Chatzichristodoulou – Annie Abra­hams’s Ex­per­i­ments in In­ti­macy

Panel Statement

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.