In May 2014 a live art piece Written in Skin was held in Manchester, executed in five stages over six months it explored the exchange meaning through verbal, visual and visceral discourses. This paper explores the construction of a multifaceted female identity within the project as the poetry of strangers was blood-lined into skin and the healing process documented.
Using Hélène Cixous’s essay The Laugh of the Medusa and her concept of l’écriture feminine, I’ll argue why I believe performance art is the most potent way to articulate transcendental identities. I also argue that the presence of duality was crucial to the project’s success. Written in Skin was essentially an act of protest in response to our cultural notions of beauty, sexuality and our fear of and reluctance to expose ourselves to pain. Through the act of embodiment, with the understanding of flesh as an alternate language frontier, notions of passivity, strength, beauty, vulnerability, expression, regeneration and the rigidity of gender stereotypes themselves were unravelled.
So if the skin can fully regenerate after undergoing such a process, are our interior worlds capable of similar transformation? Is pain, whether emotional or physical, a positive and necessary catalyst towards self-realisation?
Stefanie Elrick is a writer, artist and performer with an MA in Performance, Screen and Visual Studies from Manchester University. In her 20’s she toured fantasy stage shows with Hawkwind, The Levellers, The Age of Glass, Peaches Christ, Zsa Zsa Noir and others and devised the immersive LABOLIS theatre series. In collaboration with Loren Fetterman, she’s blood-lined poetry into her skin during ‘Written in Skin’ and been strapped to a 12ft spinning timepiece for ‘KAIROS’. She’s published in Martain Migraine Press’s “Cthulhusattva : Tales of the Black Gnosis” and has lectured at Manchester University and Wimbledon Art College. She’s fascinated by hybrids, shape-shifting, the languages of the flesh and rites of passage.