Live Library: Performing Selves
Saturday 4 March 2017, 11am – 5pm
Tetley Gallery, Leeds


The public performance of a self, from the early modern stage to the digital platforms of social media, is central to human identity – how we understand ourselves and are perceived by others. An investigation of this performance of the self in society, its changing formats and contexts, has been at the core of Corin Sworn’s ARC Fellowship.

Live Library: Performing Selves, presents a spectrum of research concerned with how ideas of the ‘self’ are manifested in our culture. Is an individual defined by their professional activity, their financial status, their emotional state or creative output? How has society’s willingness to understand the self as a combination of these factors created new ways for identity to be expressed across these registers? What is the future for how we can present ourselves to the world and how will this affect our interactions with others?

To mark the culmination of Sworn’s Fellowship, a group of artists, writers and academics have been invited to give presentations of their work, considering these and other questions. The presentations, including talks, film and performance will be followed by conversations with Sworn about the ways these ideas connect to her practice – a Live Library; a performance of research made public.


Introduction and Welcome
Ben Roberts, Director, Artists’ Research Centre

The Wildman Character
Dr M A Katritzky, Open University

Katritzky discusses the emergence and cultural longevity of the ‘Wildman’ character and how a medieval stage disaster in which several dancers in Wildman costumes burned to death on stage influenced visual art, literature and music from the 1390s to James Ensor, Arthur Rackham and David Bowie.

The Invention of Empathy 
Dr Elsa Richardson, Strathclyde University

Empathy is a highly valued emotion. We are encouraged to cultivate it as a kind of life skill, one necessary for negotiating our complex professional and personal relationships. And while the capacity for vicarious feeling is widely venerated, the inability empathise is increasingly categorised as mental pathology or neurological deficiency. All of which relies on a shared understanding of empathy as a universal, hard-wired trait. The word ’empathy’ was, however, first coined in the late nineteenth century and in its original iteration the term was used to account for an aesthetic experience. This talk examines the early history of this emotion, when the term described the resonance between people and objects, to complicate

That Thing Between Us, Is Us.
Robb Mitchell, University of Southern Denmark, Kolding

In advance of the We Coupling conference in Tokyo, Mitchell will discuss the development of his work from “physical social contraptions”, using technology to relay our perceptual experience of the world to others to embodiment theory, a new collaboration with LEGO, and the relationship between play experience and game design.

Performance: Vessels and Tools
Gil Leung
Leung will present a new performance work for the Live Library continuing her investigation into the interplay between text, image and the physicality of language.

Performativity, exhibitionism and the limits of the digital friendship
Dr Bernie Hogan, University of Oxford

The friendship has been digitized. It is now a performative gesture that clarifies, with binary precision, what could otherwise be an unstable relationship. For millennia, the wedding was a performative act. Now with this Facebook invitation, I friend thee. We now understand the role of Social Networking Sites (SNS) as means by which ambiguous subjective relations are  filtered through the lens of the machine that sorts. Will the machines and their interfaces be sufficiently complex to reign in the totality of experience we wish to share with others? What happens when our friends fade or worse, when we must deliberately dissolve a friendship?

In this talk, Hogan will discuss the shift in thinking from the performative self to the exhibitional self, and describe how the artefacts of the exhibitional self are curated algorithmically. He will attend to the liminal moments when the differences between the offline self and the online self are revealed, particularly the break up. In doing so, Hogan will open up space for artistic practice to articulate human subjectivity as a response to this totalizing force of the online exhibitional self.



Artists’ Film Programme
Selected by Corin Sworn 
Sunday 5 March 2017, 2 -4 pm
Tetley Gallery, Leeds

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A programme of artists’ films selected and introduced by Corin Sworn as part of her research fellowship considering the history of performed identity from early modern theatre to mobile screens and social media.


Dan Graham
Performer/Audience/Mirror (1975)
22.52 min

Recorded at Video Free America in San Francisco, this work is a phenomenological inquiry into the audience/performer relationship and the notion of subjectivity / objectivity. Graham stands in front of a mirrored wall facing a seated audience; he describes the audience’s movements and what they signify. He then turns and describes himself and the audience in the mirror. Graham writes: “Through the use of the mirror the audience is able to instantaneously perceive itself as a public mass (as a unity), offsetting its definition by the performer (‘s discourse).

Andrea Dojmi
Illumination Complete (Action #5)
5:22 min
Dojmi says of her project: “Illumination Complete” is the programmatic title for a series of interventions carried out over the course of the time and recorded on film, sound, installations, performances and photographs.

Duncan Campbell
Fall Burns Malone Fiddles (2004)
33:15 min
Campbell produced the enigmatic yet compelling Fall Burns Malone Fiddles by piecing together a series of black and white still images of young working class people and depressed neighborhoods, sourced from a Belfast archive.

Hannah Black
Power Cut 1970 (2013)
4:18 min
Hannah Black’s writings and artwork address race, gender, class, pop culture, and geopolitics.

Lynn Hershman Leeson
First Person Plural, The Electronic Diaries of Lynn Hershman Leeson (1984-96)
10 mins (excerpt)
A confessional video that records Hershman’s struggle, transformation, and transcendence as her personal story unfolds before the camera and sees the mirroring effects when personal becomes political, becomes cultural. This consists of four segments: Confessions of a Chameleon, Binge, First Person Plural and Shadow’s Song.

Andrea Crespo
16 mins
Virocrypsis (2015), develops the Crespo’s ongoing inquiry into post human desire. Crespo is attentive to the way that communities have formed on sites where desire can be seen to take various forms, in the shape of characters, avatars and other types of vessels. In this vein, conjoined characters named Cynthia and Celinde appear in several of the artist’s works; virocrypsis features a splintered dialogue between their two voices. A sense of mutating desire and energy is captured by splattering liquid, bio-printers producing new fruits and singing five-headed Vocaloid(s), as well as stuttering punctuation that suggests an intense energy spinning in place: cooling, buffering and loading.

Emily Wardill
Ben (2006)
10:00 mins
Shot in colour on a set that was built in Black and White, ‘Ben’ re- inhabits a famous case study involving hypnosis. The authority of the case study, the rickety construction of the set, and the faltering voice over hold the film together in a precarious balance.

Performance and Uncertainty international symposium

Saturday 4 February, 11am – 5pm
Tetley Gallery, Leeds
Admission Free. Book Tickets


A hesitation, a mode of doubt, permeates the temporal experience of much contemporary performance, whether clothed in the rhetoric of liveness or consciously mining the archive. This symposium brings together artists and writers to question the role of re-performance, to confront collective assumptions about authenticity and the changing role of the artist’s body.

Interweaving questions of politics, narrative and fiction, participants include: Rana Hamadeh; Corin Sworn; Dora Garcia; Casey Orr; Harold Offeh and Kiff Bamford. A video work by Vito Acconci will also be screened.

Organised by Kiff Bamford and Harold Offeh.


Screening: Sylvia Scarlett (dir. Cukor, 1935)
Wednesday 18 January, 7-8.30pm
Tetley Gallery, Leeds
Admission Free

An extraordinary tale of hidden identity, love and adventure starring a cross dressing Audrey Hepburn and a young Cary Grant in performances which came to exemplify their careers. Selected by Corin Sworn to accompany her Fellowship.

Come dressed as your favourite film star and claim a free bag of popcorn.

Performance: Corin Sworn & Cara Tolmie

Wednesday 30 November 2016, 7pm
Tetley Gallery


Continuing their long term collaboration, this performance by Sworn and Tolmie is a reflection on their shared approaches to creativity, research and the categorisation of memory. The performance begins with a discussion of Sworn’s previous works and the perpetually incomplete nature of their presentation, changing and shifting in relation to her own responses to the source material. This introduction evolves into a conversation between the two artists, sometimes disembodied, sometimes fragmentary. looping and revisiting how and what they choose to present and remember in response to a predetermined set of questions. It is an ongoing dialogue and a theatrical magic show which mirrors the way in which we order our memory and what that means for the way we tell our story to the world.

Artists’ Introduction and Fellowship Launch
Wednesday 9 November, 2.00 – 4.00pm
The Tetley Gallery, Leeds
Admission Free


Join us for the launch of Corin Sworn’s Fellowship to find out more about her research plans and the upcoming program of events. The launch will be a chance to meet all those working on the project, find out how you could be involved, and discover more about a range of projects currently happening in Leeds connecting to the Fellowship. Presentations include:

Ben Roberts
ARC Director

Corin Sworn 
ARC Leeds Fellow

Prof. Alice O’Grady
Head of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds

Dr Sam Belinfante
Director, Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation (CAVE), University of Leeds

Dr Kiff Bamford
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art & Graphic Design, Leeds Beckett University