Wednesday, 16 November 2016
I bled for those whose eternal fight for justice inspires me to continue waking up everyday.
I bled for those who live with integrity, love, kindness, and compassion in their hearts.
For the oppressed and the marginalised.
You have the power to change history.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
Premise: la sainte trinité questions the visual representation of female experience supposed by the Christian faith. Historical images are appropriated, re-staged, reconfigured and re-lived in an attempt to show the realities of female experience, as opposed to the stagnant death of the static art object.
Friday, 21 October 2016
Recently, I have been doing a bit of secondary research into the relationship between practice research, introspection, and mental illness.
Much love and light to you all
The following is reproduced from an original blogpost, which is available to view here: The Dark Side of Introspection
The disease of introspection has many levels, some more lethal than others. There are times when I have to tell a person that healing his depression . . . or whatever [else], will be as easy as falling off a log–once he is healed of an advanced case of introspection. It is amazing how perfectly and methodically some persons can go about destroying every experience of life . . . even every thought experience, through turning a introspective, analytical mind to bear on it. I have even seen pride connnected with this, as though it were some kind of advanced intellectual activity. Actually, it is the annihilation of the intellect.
Thursday, 13 October 2016
This week I had the pleasure of returning to Plymouth College of Art (PCA) for the third year running (big thanks to Programme Leaders Steven Paige and Jenny Keane for contiually inviting me).
I delivered a one hour introductory lecture on the lineage of live art, introduced them to a range of live art practices, followed by an interactive workshop.
At the end of the session, students were invited to cultivate their own images, placing their bodies firmly within the artistic frame, reflecting on what they were potentially communicating to an audience. Here are their results...
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Yes, its true!
I have honestly never felt so happy (which will sound like a complete paradox when reading on...) but I recognise that I am blessed to be able to immerse myself in live art, in my practice, in the processes of performance. I have access to studio spaces in which I am able to play, to create 'stuff'. I am happiest when lost in acts of creation, I now know. Its my meditation (and thanks to Dagmar for your inspiration, go Church of Performance!)
I am also happy with my writing - Its improved no end. I find that I can write clearly and articulate myself well. Sometimes it takes me a little while to work out what it is I am trying to say, and most of my 'realisations' come at the point of writing, where I am reflecting, ruminating, making links, sat my desk in Rolle (which looks out to the sea by the way - Plymouth is an incredible place to study)
Just recently however, things have become a little more stressful, and I want to acknowledge this - it is really not uncommon I have come to realise (thank you for all the coffees, cakes, and chats Steven Paige)
I don't think it is necessarily a secret that I have been finding some of the process of undertaking my PhD challenging (various examples on here). I find it helpful in many ways to talk about the struggles I face in relation to the research process, as it helps me to work things out; my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I hope that in sharing this, others might feel less isolated or worried when they face their own struggles.
So, vulnerabilty time...
For the past few months I have had low level (and maybe some higher level) anxieties creeping up on me. My body is clever, insomuch as it displays physical responses to these stresses(if you want me to be specific, I pick the skin on my lips, hense, lipstick when I go out... It covers the cracked skin).
I actually feel pretty lucky that my body does this in a way, as I can then acknowledge that this is what is going on for me, and respond in kind.
I have this anxiety
I have the physical manifestations it prompts
Aaaaand now I just need to work out what exactly is causing it, so I can work on that, and be anxiety free, right?
So, I ask myself... "Natalie, what is causing your anxiety?"
And, its kind of a million dollar question.
When I spoke about feeling this way, a few people asked me if it was the dreaded 'imposter syndrome' - I definitely felt that when I started my PhD... I worried that I wasn't quite worthy enough of the scholarship I'd received. I ended up responding to this feeling by being over productive and working my ass off constantly to continually 'prove myself', which I think resulted in me burning myself out a little in my first year.
Reflecting on this, I think I still do feel compelled to work hard in order to prove myself, somehow. I wonder if this is maybe related to my gender and my lived experiences, finding that I work just that little bit harder than my male counterparts to be taken as seriously, or even acknowledged at all!
But, maybe that is a blog post for another time...
Coming back to the imposter syndrome worry however, I don't think I feel that now. I know I work hard, I know I deserve the funding, and I think what I have to say will be of immense value to various members of the academic and performance community. Thank goodness for that.
No, I think this is something else.
I have spoken to my supervisors about these things on various occasions (and I want to acknowledge how incredibly supportive, generous, and insightful they have been - thank you Professor Roberta Mock and Dr Victor Ladron de Guevara at Plymouth University) and what they have made clear, is that doing a PhD is a transformative process.
100%, bang on, accurate.
I think this hits right to the heart of what's been causing me these anxieties.
Doing a BA and an MA in Drama at De Montfort University was a wholly incredible experience. It took me from the insecure, chubby, council house kid that I was, equipped me with new knowledges and ways of seeing the world, and transformed me into a feminist, politically charged woman of power and presence (and heartful thank yous to Helena Goldwater and Dr. Alissa Clarke for changing my life).
I found ways to express myself which were positive and affirming.
I found myself.
I found my voice.
And I realise now that two years into my PhD, I lost it again.
No longer could I stand on the shoulders of those giants upon which I built my foundations... Butler, Irigaray, Cixous... always and forever Cixous and those 'carnal, passionate, body words'.
It all crumbled away.
For the past few months, I had been standing in the rubble of who I once was.
Because what I think I thought I knew, isn't there anymore.
I now know I know nothing.
I now know I can't say anything.
I now know I can't think anything.
I now know I can't do anything.
But paradoxically, I know all of it, and can think, say, and do, all of it.
It's just, for every one way to say, think, or do something, there are a million other possibilities and counter arguments, perspectives or approaches. And there is cultural contextual rationale. And lived experience.
And so on...
I think what I had been feeling, was lost.
My agency was removed.
So... Where does that leave me, now?
... Able to make a fresh start.
Slowly, from the rubble I am surrounded by, I am picking up my foundations, and I am slowly putting things back together. It's not even that the rocks making up the rubble have changed, Butler, Irigaray, Cixous, they're all still there. It's just, I utilise them in a slightly different way, in a more thorough, rounded way. I just had to learn what I thought I knew, but didn't know - which was everything else.
And so, I am slowly rebuilding myself.
And slowly my thesis is emerging.
And slowly I will become myself once more, only better, brighter, and a lot more resilient for going through this process.
For every tear I shed and doubt I feel, I know this is an incredible privilege.
I hope this might be of help to some of you on your journey...
Thursday, 25 August 2016
By David LaGaccia
The spectators were asked to sit in one of the four squares at the start of the performance, each separated from the long white fabric, sackcloth that formed a cross; Natalie Raven and Dagmar Schwitzgebel stood on opposite ends of the vertical line holding up their hands with palms facing out. The two walk towards each other and meet at the cross-section of the cross with their bodies contrasting in physique. Their hands meet in force with their arms raised like a steeple; they both get on their knees, pushing back and forth in opposition.
Schwitzgebel stands up and picks up the fabric cutting a hole in middle and placing it over her head and covering her body like religious robes. In the middle of the cross, a pile of ashes or soot is exposed, reminiscent of ashes normally used to form the cross on the face for Ash Wednesday. Raven picks up another piece of fabric and does same, but it becomes clear that she wears the garment looser, with her feminine body fully exposed. Both go into their actions, defining their identities separately.
Although no specific meaning was discernable from their use of Christian iconography and religious gestures, it was clear that Raven and Schwitzgebel had used this iconography for their own symbolic purposes: carefully considered actions and images of the cross, baptism, religious attire, and prayer could all be seen throughout this performance. Performances dealing with religion as their subject (specifically Christianity), tend to have a moral stance on the issue of belief or non-belief (or institution), but rarely do you see a performance show the artist expressing their own conflicted attitudes, adding their own perspective to the conversation rather than dictating it.
Raven’s actions were more sexual and opposed to the religious beliefs. Her breasts and clitoris were freely exposed for the spectators to see, making gestures in the air that suggested masturbation, slamming her head into the pile of ashes, and spitting it out when it got in her mouth.
Opposing her was Scwitzgebel, who wore the sackcloth draped over her body like a robe covering her female body. Her actions were filled with religious piety and silent prayer, kneeling and forming a cross with the ashes, gently rubbing it on her face and bringing her emotions close to tears. After the performance, one viewer asked me if there was anything personally significant about the ashes: “Was it someone she knew?”, he asked, “or something that was close to her that brought her to the brink of tears?” I couldn’t say.
When the ash pile became smaller and smaller with use until it was gone, the two women stood together on the stage side by side. Raven took a tin pale filled with water, and gently cleaned Scwitzgebel’s ash covered body and face. Scwitzgebel did the same for Raven, gently cleaning her arms and face. The performance began with the two women in opposition and open hostility towards each other, and now they end with an embrace, with the two women becoming one soul.
Dagmar and I performed Sackcloth & Ashes at Theatre Utopia in Croydon, UK. It was great to perform in London... We met some generous people and witnessed some incredible art. I was talked into an undercut, but more about that later...
Many thanks to all the TF team for all your support.
Monday, 11 July 2016
Have a listen to some of the audio files taken in documentation of my time at Black Mountain School, North Carolina 2016 (all of which were recorded on the porch of the McCarty Lodge at YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly).
Happy to say I've since been gifted a guitar, and may just buy myself some harmonica's in each key (big thanks to Ryan and Andrew for your music teaching skills!)
Much love to all of you who shared space with me during my trip
Monday, 4 July 2016
Fuck you, privilledged little white boy.
Fuck you, privilledged little white boy.
Fuck you, privilledged little white boy who thought it was okay to exclude.
Fuck you, privilledged little white boy who thought it was okay to be spiteful.
Fuck you, privilledged little white boy who thought it was fun to play broke.
Fake broke, broke-n,
A broken person, desperate to deny his own privilege, yet seeking to exploit it.
You reek. You reek.
Not auth entic. Path etic. Path ological; Liar.
Thank you for reminding me what not to be.
Saturday, 11 June 2016
The Ties That Bind
How does it feel to dance, freely
In the present
Unconscious to the conscious
How does it feel to dance, freely
Without restriction and restraint?
How does it feel to dance, freely
Knotty, constraining, contorted, controls
Tied tight, tighter, tightened as stretched, speckled flesh spills
An unruly body, straining against
An excess of form
Dance freely on His grave
Laugh hard as salted tears stream down
Quench my thirst for
Thursday, 2 June 2016
28th May 2016
My first day in Toronto! I arranged to meet Dean at breakfast, so we hung out there. I brought my laptop down with my USB stick so I could carry on with all the marking I have to do (23, 3k essays). I tried to get it all done in the week before I flew out so that I wouldn't have to work abroad, but it was just too much to do in such a short amount of time. Marking, I've realised, takes a reeeeeally long time.
There is an amazing free breakfast in the hostel (bagels, cereal, toast, tea, coffee, fruit!)I was very happy to have a banana and some coffee in the morning.
We spoke about the fact that I had used £35 worth of data in Canada since I arrived the evening before (I found out after I got a text message through about rates, that its £6 per MB. WHAAAT? I turned my 3G off and hung around coffee shops with WIFI).
I decide to head to the AGO today (The Art Gallery of Ontario).
There was an exhibition on called 'The Outsiders' which is probably one of the best exhibitions of photography I've ever seen (and I don't say that lightly).
Details here: http://www.ago.net/outsiders
"Photographers Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Danny Lyon, Gordon Parks, Garry Winogrand, and those who attended Casa Susanna, and filmmakers Kenneth Anger, Shirley Clarke, Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, and Marie Menken created works that remain as challenging — even troubling — today as they did in their time" (AGO Online, 2016).
I met up with Joe and Stephen this evening, we went to a bar called Snakes and Lattes, which was kind of a theme bar, where you can play any board game imaginable! We played Banangrams and Carcassonne, both new games to me, and both really good fun!
We also played Cards Against Humanity, which I seem to be very good at, even though its sexist, racist, misogynist etc.
It was so wonderful to catch up - we reminisced about all the people we used to work with at The Princess of Wales theatre on King Street, and what we had been up to in our lives in the past 7 years.
26th and 27th May 2016
Usually I press the snooze button repeatedly, as anyone who knows me understands that I'm not a morning person... but not this time.
Up, in the shower (to wake me up more than anything), get ready and I'm out the door, in a taxi, and en route to catch the South West Falcon
The rave bus*
*there was no raving, unfortunately.
They came out quite well!
I like the direct look into the camera (proclaiming my subjectivity in the face of my objectivity), and my seated, open-legged positioning, subverting the type of 'ladylike' demeanour and regulation of behaviour that has me crawling the M/F walls!
I love this jacket I'm wearing (its a "man's" jacket, and has Christian imagery on the sleeves... again, anyone that knows me at all, knows I love my Christian Iconography!)
I felt guilty for willing the traffic to move, knowing that there might be a fatality ahead. There are bigger things to be concerned about, than catching a flight on time.
(I highly recommend them, check out the link here:
There do not seem to be any seats in the airport, so I buy an expensive pizza (Did I mention its expensive? Its soooo expensive!) and park my tired ass down on the floor like everyone else, to eat.
What the hell, lets drink.
I've been awake for almost 24 hours, but I guess the adrenaline / excitement of being here kicks in! We go up to the roof terrace and meet a few other people, drink our cheap Pilsner beers, and look over the Toronto skyline.