The artist is not present : a strategic investigation of psychological complexity through performance : a thesis submitted to the faculty a Massey University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts in the College of Creative Arts in Massey University
Hannah Beatrice, THE ARTIST IS NOT PRESENT: A strategic
investigation of psychological complexity through performance.
A solo female figure manipulates hybridized subjectivity and performed
authenticity. I have the ability to displace audiences and present an
alternative perspective of reality through the form of a live performance.
I perform using expected frameworks: enacting social conventions and
expectations based on the context of performances, [place, space,
audience, time], and the subjectivity of performer; in order to simultaneously
present, embody, and experience an exploration of the human psyche
relevant to today’s decaying Western society.
“And the question we must now ask ourselves is to know whether in this
world that is slipping away, committing suicide without realizing it, a
nucleus of men can be found to impress [a] higher idea of theatre on
the world, to bring to all of us a natural, occult equivalent of the dogma
we no longer believe.” - Antonin Artaud II
The live performance work is influenced by tactics used in early Absurdist
and Surrealist theatre practices, challenging traditional concepts of what live
performance might achieve, along with its function:
• Questioning the nature of existence and the validity of a decaying
society through the deconstruction of both characteristic and
• Transgressing the boundary between audience and the performer to
address psychological complexities.
• A practice orientated towards audience affect, performer and
audience relationship, and the audience’s specific role in relation to
the body of work. The audience disturbs the work as much as the
work disturbs the audience, making the practice audience responsive
and it evolves based on its reception.
Whether it is genuine or not, I have been interested in manifesting induced
‘liveness’ through dismantling boundaries, whilst still maintaining distance
between the audience and myself.
The reality of performing through qualities of intimacy, fantasy vs. fact, and
performed authenticity, means that the work extends beyond simply the live
performance event. I am not restricting myself to being responsive to the
audience within the live performance events only, but across the practice
through such things as residual documents and imagery. In this way, the
emphasis is on a holistic practice, and the artist is then rarely present.