Bethie Helliwell Portfolio


How does gesturing with textiles in a
contemporary Performance Art piece help convey emotion?
With particular reference to specific works by
Marina Abramović, Yoko Ono and Carolee Schneemann”


Textiles feature within many different creative platforms such as fashion design, interior design, craft and art, one area in which textiles feature heavily is Performance Art. However, there are very few research papers, which focus on the two creative mediums, textiles and Performance Art, as a collaboration. The purpose of this study is to explore textiles within Performance Art and how they can help to express emotions; with particular investigation into how these emotions can be conveyed, through gesturing with textiles.

Performances by Marina Abramović, Yoko Ono and Carolee Schneemann have been compared in order to examine the use of textiles within the pieces and how they are gestured with, with particular reference to the gesture of ‘undressing’. Furthermore, the portrayal of intense emotions such as compassion, disgust and shock, have also been discussed within each performance piece with regards to textiles. Interviews have been conducted with curators and artists within the field of Performance Art, in order to develop a more in depth understanding of why performance artists use textiles within their work, particularly their choice of clothing.

All six Performance Art pieces were found to incorporate aspects of textiles either through the use of clothing, the removal of clothing or chosen textile based props. By integrating gestures and their chosen materials each of these performance artists have used textiles to add meaning to their performances. This allows performers to portray more complex concepts to their audience, which can in turn allow artists to emotionally reveal, intimate details about their personal lives.

Upon reading this research, visual artists who use textiles, will get a better understanding of the role in which their work could play in Performance Art or in fact develop their existing practice, into the live art realm. I also believe performance artists could gain a better awareness or a deeper understanding of the sometimes-subconscious choices they make when choosing to involve textiles within their practice.

If you have any questions
or would like to read this paper please
don’t hesitate to contact me.


5 thoughts on “Dissertation

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