I am feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement as Tempting Failure 2016 is fast approaching. The festival runs from the 21st – 29th July and tickets are available here. My performance will be on the evening of the 28th July alongside Tim Bromage and Richard Herring at Hackney Showrooms.

I will be performing a new work titled:


I have decided to take the image of myself stood next to the stack of paper that I had originally intended for my MA Show and think about how I could take that idea forward. For me that is a powerful image, and I like the idea of using my body to process the paper / using the paper to document the body. The theme for this years Tempting Failure is ‘In Utero’ and so it seems like an appropriate time to bring a new project into the world. I will be taking the stack forward as a new project which will be explored through a series of performances. I like the idea of transporting a huge almost unmanageable stack of paper and performing with it for what will be an expansive period of time, potentially over a year intermittently. I will then collect, document and archive every interaction with the stack, so everything from the transporting and storing to the performative action itself. For me this brings into question, where does a performance begin or end? I don’t think performance solely exists for the period of time that the viewer is present. For example, when I have cut my skin, until it has healed it is still performing- even without any other witness than myself. I think putting these parameters in place will allow for me to learn through experimentation and challenge of what body and it’s materiality really does mean to me. Tempting Failure will mark the beginning of this long term project, which I hope to take to various venues in the future. The end of the project, I foresee, will be an exhibition the archive created through action. All traces and sheets of paper captured and accounted for. It will become a time capsule of an extended intermittent durational performance. It will capture time, body, memory and experience.

The action which I will explore at TF will involve my children’s teeth. I am fascinated with the notion that these teeth came into existence inside my body. They they left inside my children’s body and then as they left their gums, they returned to me under the guise of the tooth fairy. I intend for this action to bring into question, where does the mother’s body end? I am fascinated with the body as a site that is autonomous and also a site of creation; that all bodies regenerate and create new cells, and that my body grew other bodies inside it. This still seems mysterious to me despite the fact that I have lived through it.




I have been thinking about how I can use my limitations as material and it seems that it is the ‘red tape’ that comes with creating work within an institutional setting that is the boundary stopping me from progressing with my initial proposal. I initially think that it is too literal to use red tape as material- but I soon thought about how shutting ideas down for being too literal was only going to limit my exploration. For now, I decided to think and explore what red tape would mean and how I could use it.

Primarily I considered the body as the core thing that the ethical rules opposed in my practice. I thought about how I could bind my body. How by binding my body it would illustrate the restriction and frustration I felt as a student within the system. I felt that the fact that I would be applying the tape to my own body would mean that I would be taking ownership of my limitations and using them to still speak of body. I imagined how the body would become contained within a mass of red tape, but then something about this didn’t sit right with me.

The more I contemplated this body binding the more it became apparent that it would seem like some sort of tantrum! Like some sort of literal protest. I realised that I was containing the work to solely being a response to these issues; that it would just be telling the viewer what was happening opposed to creating something for the viewer to engage in a dialogue with. When I visit a gallery, it is the works the require some sort of analysis, engagement on my part that I am moved by. Art that is ‘telling’ you something in an explicit way pushes me away. I feel resistant to what can feel like rantings on the artworks part. The body binding would fall under the latter. I would be telling the viewer exactly what to think. Also, there would be little discovery on my part. It would be a case of I think- I do.. and nothing more.

I began thinking about why the space was important to me in my proposal. Why did the performance and my body need to be contained within that space specifically? (That space being a room 480cm square built within the exhibition space.) The initial interest was in relation the notion of ‘Installaction’. I wanted the traces of my actions to be captured within the materiality of the space; on the floor, the walls etc. I wanted my body to extend beyond the membrane of my skin- for it to extend to the surfaces of the space in order to think about questions that interest and excite me within my practice; questions such as, when does my body cease to be my body? If hair, fingernails, skin or body fluids leave my body, are they no longer mine? It raises questions around ownership as well as materiality and abjection in relation to body. I suppose ownership is still a question, even after these recent hurdles. Who owns / who is the author of this work now that the institution has created a framework? I suppose the reality of the situation is that artists in today’s culture are always working within a certain framework. There are always boundaries imposed by site, space, institution, organisation and also audience.

So, in relation to how I move forward, it occurred to me that maybe the absence of my body altogether could be powerful in itself. I begin thinking about covering the walls with red tape. There is a sense of impossibility in the act of covering a 4.8m square in red tape that is only 19mm wide. The absurdity of it amuses me, and I feel like it really does relate to my practice. I don’t feel like I would be doing something just to meet requirements. For me this would be a durational performance- but the viewer would only see the end result. The endless amount of tape would speak of the work that I have done just by being there. The labour intensive repetitive act of taping the room would connect with the relentless, impossible task of being a body based artist, trying to push boundaries and really be daring within an institutional setting! Just thinking of both of those scenarios makes me feel exhausted- but this is not a totally destructive or negative commentary, because both outcomes result in something that makes (hopefully?!) a huge impact. The institutional process has had a huge positive impact on my practice. It has forced me to look in on my practice from a new perspective. It actually seems totally appropriate that I encounter these difficulties, because these are the sorts of anxieties that intrigue me in relation to body.

A test patch on the wall of the studio illuminated some unexpected qualities of the tape. The way it ripples seems so bodily to me, almost like veins. The tape and it’s elasticity seems like skin. I think it’s blood red appearance will make a huge impact on the white space through the door way of the room. It will create such a contrast. Red seems to be the only colour I use in my practice….looking at my instagram account this is obvious! ( natalie.ramus.art ) I like the idea that it will become and immersive space, like a womb. I am excited to take this forward and to realise the potential of this heavily loaded material.


It has been a while since I updated my blog… I hope to catch up over the next few days. Now feels like a good time to look back over the challenges that the past month or so have brought and take stock before ploughing forward in the final stretch of my MFA.

I suppose a good place to start is with my proposal for final show which has been the source of an incredible amount of stress and upset… but every cloud has a silver lining and this one definitely does. I will talk about the silver lining also, but firstly… my proposal.

I really felt that I wanted to be brave with what I proposed. I felt that my MFA has been an opportunity for me to really immerse myself in my research of the autonomous and abject body and performative action has played a very important part of that research. I felt that I wanted my proposal to be an accumulation of the actions I had been exploring, that it would also be a continuation of my research and most importantly, that it would be a challenge. Duration has always been an interest of mine but I hadn’t really fully explored my limits within it.

I recently attended a masterclass with Thomas John Bacon which allowed for me to really connect with the power within duration. It has massive affective potential in the way that the viewer connects with both the art work and the artist. Through an exercise set by Thomas I realised that I really don’t have any sense of awareness of my actual physical limits and boundaries. We performed an action taken from Thomas’s performance ‘Perception Lab’ set for Bacon by the artist Hellen Burrough. The action involved us in chair position against the wall with hands raised above our heads for 130 seconds and repeated for an hour. We experienced the transitions, though action, of the stages of despair and ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and I realised that my body and my mind is so much more capable than I am aware of. I experienced the internal psychological battle and extreme physical pain,  that then passed into feeling quite detached and mechanical in the action, (probably a coping mechanism) and when Thomas asked us to connect to our experience and be present and mindful of our body’s responses my body felt more alive than I can ever remember it feeling. To experience the borders and edges of my physical capability allowed me to really experience physically being. It felt liberating to allow myself to fail. This was the biggest lesson that this action and Thomas’s insights taught me. That allowing my body to respond honestly and to allow it to be incapable and to collapse was to allow myself to be truly honest through action. In that moment of failure others in the room seemed to be so incredibly beautiful in their vulnerability. I realised that the performance ‘veil ‘ / ‘act’ drops when you allow yourself to be pushed beyond your control. It was this element of duration that I wanted to be present in my proposed performance, that was my reason for attending the masterclass. I knew it would create a platform within which I would discover what drew me to duration.

Based on the research carried out throughout the year and my experience through Poppy Jackson’s workshop and Thomas John Bacon’s masterclass I knew that I wanted to really challenge myself. I proposed to perform for the duration of the degree show and also assessment week, so two weeks in total. I proposed that I would occupy a room, 4.8m squared with minimal materials. The starting image in my mind was of me stood next to a stack of paper the same height as me- equivalent to my body. I would then use my body to process and work with the paper. I was intrigued in the notion of ‘installaction’, and I was excited that the space would become as autonomous as my body. The traces of my actions and also of my body being in the space would evolve over time, especially if I were to use organic matter such as saliva and blood. I decided that I would have a bucket in the space which would be my toilet and so the urine produced by my body would become my material. My body truly would be my material, and the space an extension of my body. The repetitive ritual of returning daily and reworking what had gone before would allow for a cyclical shift in energy within the performative space. I foresaw it providing me with the challenge of endurance. I anticipated that it would allow me to fully immerse myself into a transformative research period through which I would learn so much.

Unfortunately, despite giving extensive consideration and solutions to health and safety issues resulting from the work, the ethics committee of Cardiff School of Art and Design responded to my proposal stating that no human DNA was to be shown in my space and that the performance was not allowed. I was baffled with this as my original MFA proposal stated that I would be using my body as material during my MFA. I had been doing it for the duration of the course and it had never been raised as an issue; so to be told at the end of the course felt very unfair and limiting. I felt like my practice didn’t belong in the institution. This was a huge blow to the confidence I had built up over the course, and it took me a while to work past this.

I remembered a conversation with Thomas where he spoke of having similar issues with showing work in institutional setting and so I contacted him to have a conversation to find out his experiences and to attempt to gain a deeper insight into the artist’s experiences of censorship and ethics within the public realm. As a result of this I have been fortunate enough, (here comes the silver lining) to have been offered a space to perform at Tempting Failure Festival. This is an incredible opportunity and I am so incredibly thankful to Thomas for supporting me in this way. Thomas set up TF in response to these sorts or issues within the art world. The Tempting Failure website states:

Tempting Failure is a festival of international performance art and noise art, showcasing under-represented or extreme artwork that may interrogate risk or challenge preconceptions….Tempting Failure showcases a programme of artwork that is usually sidelined by producers and arts venues for being logistically too difficult, unexpected, prone to censorship or perhaps deemed too ‘extreme’.  We provide a high profile and professional platform, working with artists to establish a supportive environment where logistically restrictive practice can be presented in a safe and contextualised manner.

I think TF is an incredibly valuable platform. Notions of censorship and what is/isn’t acceptable are interesting points to discuss, but I feel so passionate about art being a fluid, open and undefined thing.I feel so strongly that artists shouldn’t be censored and that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to make art. There is always a way to facilitate a responsible presentation / exploration and TF have proved this. Surely art is the best way to engage in the difficult conversations in society?

(Please do support this incredible platform, go check out the website, see the incredible work that the TF crew do and buy your ticket to this years festival! 21st July- 29th July in Croydon and Hackney, London. I will be performing on the evening of 28th July at Hackney Showrooms- See Facebook event page. )

With regards to my MFA show… after some breathing space I have decided that it may be interesting to actually engage with these issues. To respond to the limitations that the school have put in place for me and my practice. I suppose this is part of my practice and my concerns as long as I am practicing within this context. I have been censored and limited throughout my experience of academic research, both at BA level and now at MFA, and so there is obviously a lot of research and dialogue that needs to be done. I feel so passionately about the relationships people have with ideas of body, and these dialogues benefit society greatly; and so a response to the limitations for a body based practice in academia is needed in my opinion. I hope that making these boundaries visible will encourage a dialogue surrounding these problems. They are problems in that anything that limits our understanding and research is never a positive thing in my mind. I feel that there is always a responsible and considered way to explore challenging material, and that as long as it is all carried out in a safe, considered and responsible way, that no should never be an answer.