Having the opportunity to sit down and discuss my work with André outside of assessment time was hugely beneficial in realising what I have ahead of me with regards to developing current work. I found it useful to seek advice from someone who has gained so much experience in the field of performance. I am currently in the process of planning a durational performance exploring body hair. I intend on challenging the prescribed template in place for a feminine body through the plucking of my body hair.

We discussed the importance for the action of plucking opposed to shaving or waxing. I spoke about how I felt that shaving my legs etc would seem so normal to the viewer, and so there would seem to be no reason for the viewer to engage with the action; when what you are viewing is so completely normal / predictable you tend to lose the inquisitive way of engaging with what you are seeing. You switch off because it is predictable. By plucking the hairs one by one it would draw attention to each hair. The drawn out action may seem incredibly monotonous and impossible to finish. This impossibility of the task is something I want to highlight- the impossibility to stay in control of our body, the impossibility to stay one step ahead. No matter how much we try to manipulate the body, despite all the interventions we put in place we will always be chasing it’s actions. It will always be one step ahead. And one day, eventually, we will lose control of it entirely.

The durational aspect of the plucking is also an opportunity to test my own boundaries. To test the boundaries of focus, attention. To alter the experience of time. Also, I am hoping that the action of plucking- which is often associated with pain, will trigger mirror neutrons in the viewer and that my interest in embodied experience may be brought into the work.

When discussing my proposed action with André he challenged the fact that by only plucking legs, armpits and pubic hair I am not going as far as my initial enquiry demands. André suggests that the eyebrows, in their entirety, should also be plucked. If I am to challenge the imposed notions of beauty by plucking my hair then where does the boundary lie and should there even be a boundary. On reflection I think i agree with him, even though my immediate reaction is a case of, ‘no, not my eyebrows!!!!!’.

Why the instant horror in plucking all of my eyebrow hairs? Well, there is no hiding from it. The remains of my action will be visible for all to see for a significant amount of time- thats if they grow back at all! But, my horror in this action speaks volumes in the importance of this facial feature in fitting in and not being ugly! Eyebrows are such an important feature to the face; not only because of their expressive qualities but because they are associated with beauty. Without them, faces look quite alien-like. The face is such an important feature when it comes to these issues- so should I not be using it? How can I be truly challenging notions of ‘acceptable femininity’ if it is in relation to certain rules or boundaries? I couldn’t help but feel very aware of what it would be like to have no eyebrows at all outside of my art practise, in my life away from the studio. In the school playground when I wait for my children, in the supermarket, just in my general life…. I can’t help but feel that (despite my discomfort in the situation) it would be in these places where the art would truly come alive, where standards of femininity would be truly tested. Maybe I need to just be brave and take the step. It could be so powerful, and I know that when I am uncomfortable I am truly testing my boundaries. It seems like such a trivial thing- to be without eyebrows- but I can’t help but feel that it would be powerful. And that the humour of the action may be a thing that bridges the gap despite the oddness! I think this is something that I may explore separate to the current project that I am working on. I feel that I need to give consideration to a lot of factors- and I don’t want to rush. I am (hopefully) performing on the 25th February and I don’t feel that leaves enough time to plan for all of the factors that need to be prepared, e.g. portrait photographs etc.

I realise after talking to André that there is much work to be done with regards to the staging of my performance. Lighting, cameras, photography…. I realise that I have to let go and invite people in to help with documentation. This is a great concern for me as I am worried that the imagery won’t be what I want. I realise that a key point in this is communication. I need to make sure that I communicate clearly my expectations to those who help. I have arranged a meeting with Neil Pedder who is very experienced in documenting time based work- hopefully he will be able to share his knowledge and set up staging that will be much more effective than my previous attempts. It is important that people feel that they can enter the space, and cameras have put people off in my previous attempt at performance. I am hoping that clever lighting will enable the cameras to be discreet.


Myself and Lisa have been pushing forward, trying to find and secure spaces to show our work collaboratively in. We are keen to explore interesting, less obvious spaces as well as the typical white cube space. There is something interesting bout showing work in less obvious spaces. The space feeds into the work. It blurs the boundaries between artwork and exhibition space. It can sometimes feel like the wall and the space becomes an extension of the artwork. I think an artwork can communicate different ideas depending on the context within which it is viewed. I suppose that is the purpose of the white wall- to remove any possible associations. To allow the viewer to experience only the artwork. I think showing the work in different spaces can provide the opportunity for the artist, (and the viewer) to see another facet to the world. To get to know another part of it’s personality. To really understand what it is and what it does as an artwork.

So, back to the progress we have made; we have submitted proposals and we are due to meet someone for a discussion about a potential quirky space above a pub, but it was during a discussion with Mark Gubb that I realised that whilst we are looking for alternative spaces we are not pushing the boundaries of what an exhibition can be. Mark told me about how along with a friend he had turned their student house into an exhibition. An installation occupied the living room. Windows boarded up with peep holes so people could stand outside and look in. The artwork extended into the upstairs bathroom. Listening about how Mark had pushed boundaries inspired me to rethink what or where an exhibition could be. We joked about how you could even tell everyone to get on the number 23 bus and that we could occupy the back seat!

This has really expanded my thinking. Whilst discussing it with Lisa we both talked of how we think there is something exciting about interrupting the normal with art. Placing art in a place where it is not expected, there is something very exciting about that notion. So, moving forward, maybe we need to think outside the box. We both want to make something exciting, something challenging within our work, so why not mirror that with the way we exhibit?!


Dr Stephen Thompson’s research and ideas lecture discussed the concepts researched during his PHD which was completed prior to him taking the post of deputy Dean seven years ago; he also tied this into how he sees this research evolving now that he is in a position to pick up his research and put more energy into it. The research of Dr Thompson is in the field of relational technoethics. Whilst Dr Stephen Thompson’s research area is different to mine, I still found it to be incredibly interesting and thought provoking. I say it is different to my current practise, but actually the research I did for my dissertation seemed to cross over into the boundaries of the topics discussed by Thompson.

I found it interesting to reflect on the relationship between human and technology; technology as a part of our cognition, technology as an extension of us, technology where we are an extension of it. These notions seemchallenging initially as we often initially consider technology and us to be separate entities; or technology as something invented by humans. Yet Dr Thompson challenged this notion completely posing the question, ‘Where do human’s begin and end?’. Several theories were discussed; Modernist, Posthumanism, Derrida, Technicity, Allegory. Dr Thompson used the story of Joey the mechanicalboy as studied by Dr Bruno Bettelheim, specifically Joey’s drawings, to claim that humans are a synthesis of technology.

We are machines of meat, made up of systems and that ‘things’ such as wall are traces of our body and our own cognition. Thompson gave some simple but effective examples to illustrate his point. During a phone call to our mother we don’t actually hear our mother’s voice; it is a synthesis- a reproduction, but we accept it without question to be our mother.

Dr Thompson referred to the body as the ‘Soma’ (which is the Greek word for body). He did this to make it easier to be more open to what the body could be, When we say body we have a very defined opinion of what it is, yet to use a less familiar word enables us to be more open to what a body could be. Our bodies are often made up of organic and technological matter- for example, contact lenses, pins in broken bones, pacemakers, artificial joints… even our glasses. Walking sticks. Wheel chairs. All these things are technology that also become our body. A pen. A car….. the list goes on…. the computer, social media…..even something as simple as our clothing which acts as a second skin. I found this to be refreshing, to see and hear of the body in a way that is so challenging. I have questioned where we begin and where we end before, but I think I lost touch with it because of the way my work has been so consumed with the functionality and materiality of the organic human body. To reconnect to this challenge of thoughts has added an extra awareness to my reflections of my work.

I also found it refreshing to see how despite the difference in levels of study, us Masters student are in a very similar place to Dr Stephen Thompson with regards to uncertainty in our research. We are at a point where we have a lot of background research, yet it is going into the area of the unknown. We don’t quite know what it at the end- and with that there is a degree of doubt and uncertainty. Dr Thompson’s advice was to embrace the uncertainty as it is the nature of research. I felt that this was very poignant for me as I feel that I am too in a point of uncertainty with my work. I am feeling pleased with the end of semester assessment and the realisations I had come to as a result of this assessment, I have ideas of how I want to move forward, but I still feel slightly lost and unsure. I say that, but I’m not really lost because I am still being productive, I am still moving forward; I suppose it is more a case of that uncertainty that comes with moving forward into a new area. But that is exciting because it means that I am doing something new, I am challenging myself and my own boundaries- and the nature of that means that it is an unsettling experience. I supposed I just need to trust in myself that it will pay off. I suppose whether it leads to success or failure, lessons will always be learnt.

Further reading: Entangled. An archaeology of the relationship between humans and things. Ian Hodder.