Spitting Distance

Flisher, M (2012) Spitting Distance. [Performance]

Abstract

Based on a personal seminal moment, where my father rubbed spit onto my bloody knee, Spitting Distance is a twenty-minute PhD Practice-as-Research experimentation broken into three sections. I bind my penis with bandages. I spit onto my naked body. I invite the audience into the space to “spit and make their mark”. The question that I am asking through this practice is How does Julia Kristeva’s theory on abjection affect my own understanding of my masculine self? 'Spitting Distance' is the first performance experiment for my Practice as Research PhD. It was performed at ]Performance Space[, London on March 4th 2012 for the 'Tempting Failure' Festival which was curated by Thomas Bacon. This research is part of a PhD study, which is interested in exploring what selves the abject might expose in performance. Spiting Distance (2012) revealed three forms of possible selves being produced in the space. The temporal self refers to the different past, present and future selves, the spatial self refers to the self that is developed and revealed in different spaces. Finally, the abject self reveals that those selves that have been rejected by the individual are also part of their self-makeup. Therefore, what became apparent was that despite the cultural enforcement of specific masculine norms as a gendered ideology, these masculine traits are as abject as those traits, which it aims to reject. This has a further impact on Kristeva’s own theory in which she makes a dichotomous argument between cultural construction and nature, in which, to paraphrase Judith Butler in Gender Trouble (2007), culture still imposes meaning on nature. Instead, using a post-structuralist methodology, Spitting Distance (2012) aimed to turn cultural reading of gender onto itself, in order to expose the fluidity, rather than the fixity, of self-knowledge. Therefore, Spitting Distance (2012) seems to impact upon three areas of academia: Performance Studies, Masculine Studies, and Cultural Studies.