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“Those that resemble flies from a Distance”: Performing Research, Mai: feminisms and visual culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalMAI: Feminism and Visual Culture
Issue number4
Published15 May 2019

King's Authors


Taking up and following the figure of the fly as it appears in an essay by Jorge Luis Borges and the poems of Aracelis Girmay, I describe experiments with empirical performance developed from qualitative research. The live dramatic monologues are meditations on the material and affective entanglements of pain, disease and debility for dying migrants and refugees in the UK. They evoke a sense of place not only as a geographical topos but as the lived ‘chora’ of the sensual and affective history of territorial and biochemical mobilities and of trying to find one’s ground. This piece builds upon and extends these discussions by showing how artistic work with empirical data can provide a tool that is attuned to multiple registers of dispossession. These attunements are especially important in situations of diasporic dying where disease and pain can rearrange sensibility and embodiment (skin colour, hair, voice, the gut) in unpredictable ways. An underlying theme is the methodological and ethical demands of what I call the ‘withdrawn’. The withdrawn are those phenomena that lack a referent, are diachronic (inaccessible in the now) and mobile (without stable qualities) but can have material effects.

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