Cleanliness is next to godliness, but dirtiness is next to heaven




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Peer reviewed



After a period of research/ development, [funded by Arts Council of England - Research & Development Grant, 1999], I then received a London Arts – Combined Arts Production Award to make cleanliness…. This piece was made site-specifically in 2001 as an hour-long performance promenade in Dulwich Leisure Centre. Established to promote health amongst the working classes, Dulwich is a living monument to rituals of bathing, reflecting religious, cultural and social attitudes to hygiene. I directed/ co-devised the piece with four performers, - Nicole Robinson, Adura Onashile, Sef Townsend and Jenni Potter - all with diverse performance methodologies – with an original sound design by Joseph Hyde. The audience were led to view diverse scenarios which revealed intimate exchanges of fluids, moments of self-pleasure/ pleasure with others in order to explore historical and contemporary societal ideas towards filth, whether literally physical dirt, or the notion of filth as ‘dirty sexualities’. I had for example researched Jewish codes of practice and Califia’s work on public sex and was interested in the hybridity of learned behaviour. The schism between private and public manifestations of desire is a very real one in terms of activities and their contextual environments. I engaged with the ‘performance’ of these activities, as well as investigating the often overused and often misunderstood notions of ‘queer’ and Butler’s ‘performativity’. These I perceive to be everyday states and the piece explored and reconsidered ways of seeing and experiencing such normalcy. The ‘queerness’ of the piece was the most discussed aspect allowing me to gain an insight into the defining of performance by certain referents. The piece also led to a greater understanding of the contextualisation of strongly visual performance for audiences who may expect entertainment. This developed my decisions regarding future practice, for example, by re-defining myself again as a performance artist.


RAE 2008, UoA 65 Drama, Dance and Performing Arts



Research Institute