Helena Sands


Intimacy and environment in the elision between theatre and performance art
Supervisors: Prof. Andre Stitt, Prof. Clive Cazeaux
Research group/theme: CFAR

I am standing naked in a stairwell, patch-blind. Garments hacked from my body. Trapped eyeless swiping blades, bird-like, tearing its feathers with its beak; gathering scraps, unseeing, threaded onto pale string, looping them blindly with swift stitches. I hold out the needle. White milk spill – choke-drowned, wretch leaking down my torso. Split paper wound, naked raw-rubbed thigh. Sexual spit mother connected by spider-thread. Can you see me now?

Helena Sands  

The inter-relation between theatre and performance art is precarious. Through practical work and case studies my research investigates the existence of certain conventions within performance art, paying particular attention to the effect of the intimate exchange between performer and viewer.

At the meeting point of two axis, performance art and theatre and intimacy and environment, the claim of elision explodes theatrical conventions/representations and presents a number of uncertainties. For example theatre practitioners and theorists explore theatre conventions within a performance art context in order to deconstruct the inner workings and dismantle binary distinctions. On the other hand many performance artists problematize the theatre/performance art distinction by consciously exploiting and using elements, which we may expect as theatrical within their work in order to counter conventions associated within the genre.

Situated within a landscape of elision this research and practical application considers the ways in which performance artists wield convention and the potential effect on the audience/performer relation, with particular focus on the presence of intimacy within a collective experience