The Touch and the Cut: An annotated dialogue with Kira O'Reilly

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Taking the form of an annotated interview with performance artist Kira O'Reilly, and responding to her recent work Untitled (Syncope) (April 2007) from both performer and spectator perspectives, this article seeks to explore questions surrounding the potentially traumatic reception of her work and the body practices she engages with.

One of O'Reilly's central concerns is how to have a body now, how one might constitute that body in performance and how that interacts with the other bodies in the space. From this starting point, the article explores how we might perform, receive and make apparent the traumatic or traumatized body, which, for Peggy Phelan at least, is how we might come to own and recognize ourselves (Phelan 1997: 18).

The article explores two related theses: first, that the performed/performative wound can make manifest traumatic experience and that this might be viewed as an uncanny pleasure, similar to the way Barthes fetishizes the wound of the photographic punctum. Second, that this traumatic appearance might be identified as constituting the performer's and spectators' bodies within a given performance moment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-325
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

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