Performing Identity — Re-presenting Self

I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes:
I constitute myself in the process of “posing”,
I instantaneously make another body for myself,
I transform myself in advance into an image.
Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida (2000, p10)

©Gail Flockhart
Self-Annihilation ©2019 Gail Flockhart. DSLR Photographic film still image.

As a practitioner-researcher based at the University of Plymouth in my first year of doctoral research, I was delighted to be selected to contribute to the THEOREM 2019 PhD Symposium of practice-led, arts-research.

The process of preparing, writing and delivering a paper and exhibition of practice (outside my own institution), was extremely beneficial in building confidence and experience. The critical, peer-review process was also of immense value, by focussing thoughts, clarifying arguments and framing research for public dissemination.

Theorem offers a valuable opportunity to test research ideas, engage with an academic audience and meet other doctoral researchers to learn about innovative work across a diverse range of contemporary, arts-related spheres.

First-hand knowledge gained through seeing other participant-projects and access to alternative ways of thinking, doing and presenting practice-research, challenged my assumptions and inspired a review of approaches.

©Gail Flockhart
Self-Annihilation ©2019 Gail Flockhart. HD Digital moving-image freeze frame (Detail).

By ‘performing self’ through self-representation in women’s art (particularly where informed by trauma), I seek insights into ‘Selfie Culture’.  Several Theorem presentations linked with aspects of my work.  For example, the Keynote by Professor Tony Kent, ‘Personalisation, Identity and Ownership’ considered the formation of identity or identities, through curation on social media.  Self-portraiture and the emerging digital ‘aesthetics of the self’, foreground the intersection of “physical and online worlds”.

Theorem is well-organised and curated to a high standard; communications with contributors, assistance in presenting work and informative guidance materials/documentation, promote a sense of openness and inclusivity.  Jane, and all the team, were approachable and accommodating, despite my numerous emails and random requests!

©Gail Flockhart
Self-Annihilation ©2019 Gail Flockhart. DSLR Photographic film still image.

Being part of Theorem’s research community provides a collaborative and supportive environment for publishing research within a critically-engaged, challenging and yet ‘safe’ space.  The expanded format of Theorem offers an excellent opportunity to connect with other practitioner-researchers in the field and develop a professional profile.

©Gail Flockhart
Self-Annihilation ©2019 Gail Flockhart. Installation view. HD moving image filmwork and audio soundtrack, 3 mins 16 sec. Theorem 2019, Ruskin Gallery, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. 4 – 19 July 2019.
Gail Flockhart MA
MPhil/PhD Arts Researcher
Dept of Art, Design and Architecture
University of Plymouth
07580 754542

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