Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kathryn Ashill (42)

‘If it is a social object, the body can be redefined,
its forms and functions can be contested
and its place in culture
revaluated and transformed’. (1)
I personally identify with my body as a ‘social object’, which can be used as an instigative tool for social intervention. After having to revaluate my body as a result of significant weight loss I turned to performance as a means of reconnecting with my physicality. My work is focused on the desire to explore my surroundings and other people through making corporeal connections.

Having grown up in a typical Welsh household where there was a lack of filial tactility I crave physical affection. This feeds significantly into my work as I aim to gain a physical bond with the participants in the performances. There is a strong theme of care running through the body of work: I have been publicly dressed (Dress Doll 2006), publicly washed (Tawe Performances 2006-2008), and hand fed by my family (Feast/Gwledd 2008).

Intimacy is fostered through these actions. My latest piece Sws (Welsh for ‘kiss’) involved participants applying red lipstick and then coming to kiss me. I became shrine like and relished the physical contact. As a ‘social object’ my body can be used as a tool for pushing the reserved British public to embrace more often.

(1) R. Betterton, An Intimate Distance: Women, Artists and the Body (London, New York: Phaidon 1996) p.13
Photo credits to: Paul Avis, Daryl Corner, Rhiannon Guven and Michelle Huggleston.