My research comprises of four themes around contemporary performance and feminist practice. I have written extensively on repetition, desire and pleasure in performance and I am now embarking on a new project around feminist practices from the 1970s till the present. I draw on my expertise in desire to consider sexuality and identity politics in work by female artists both in performance and visual culture. 

Theme One: Repetition in Art and Performance

This theme has emerged from my doctoral thesis and concerns critical and historical considerations of repetition in art and performance. My monograph Repetition in Performance explores the use of repetition in movement, speech and structure. It proposes that experiences of repetition are unending and pose questions about difficult pleasures. I ask: What is it in performances of repetition that persuades us to return to them again and again? How might we unpack their complexities and come to terms with their demands upon us? I answer these questions by encountering a number of case studies spanning avant-garde practices (Gertrude Stein and Samuel Beckett), dance-theatre (Pina Bausch and Rosas), contemporary performance practice (Lone Twin Theatre) and contemporary writing (Sophie Calle).    

Theme Two: Feminist Performance and Visual Culture

In my current research project, I look at feminist avant-garde practices of the 1970s and more specifically works by Renate Bertlmann, Hannah Wilke, Yayoi Kusama, Julia Bardsley and Louise Bourgeois. I am working towards a feminist discourse that opens a dialogue around experiences of female sexuality in contemporary culture. 

Theme Three: Desire, Pleasure, Excess

This theme has emerged from a consideration of spectatorship and the possible pleasures that performance promises. I am interested in processes of desiring which never end and the ways in which performance seems to perpetuate this process. An unfulfilled promise sits on the centre of my consideration of desire and I draw on Lacan to think about the shape of desire. I think about the experience of theatre as affective sensation and draw on psychoanalysis, semiotics and performance studies to argue that what we ultimately desire is desire itself.

Theme Four: Performance Writing

The theme stems from my passion for writing; writing in my research is ‘on’ and ‘about’ performance and opens a productive dialogue with the processes of making and thinking. I am invested in experiences of reading as performance. I am committed to rigorous theory, which is made personal. I use affective writing to consider what performance does to us and to one’s body. My writing stems from the embodied experience of performance and does not try to re-create it, but rather to point at other experiences that seem useful in accounting for certain modes of spectatorship.

Eirini Kartsaki 2018 / © All Rights Reserved

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