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Natasha Davis

Title: Performing Migratory Identity - Practice as Research on Displacement and (Be)Longing

Supervisors: Nicolas Whybrow and Silvija Jestrovic

Mentor: Tim White

Research Summary

My current practice based research considers the trauma of displacement and its role in contemporary performance and live art, the growing number of artists creating seminal work in this area, and identity as a cultural experience.

My theoretical research addresses the historical context of contemporary interdisciplinary work around identity; specific artists creating work in this area today (such as Mona Hatoum, Margareta Kern, Zarina Bhimji, Sheila Ghelani, Akram Khan, Zineb Sedira, Mikhail Karikis etc); autobiographical performance around body, memory and identity; how performance work in this area has changed over the last few decades and what identity might mean in the near future in a progressively migratory world.

Integral to my research is the imperative to use performance making and through performing explore critical issues around memory, identity and migration; body as a permanent site of trauma; as well as the ideas around crossing borders, embodied contradictions and transformations, memory and land. My embodied practice as performer informs my research as a subject inscribed through my own experiences of displacement and migration.

Professional and Academic Background

I am a performance artist who creates poetic interdisciplinary material exploring body, memory, identity and migration. The work is presented in theatres, galleries and site-specific locations. It is episodic and involves performative installations, film, movement, text and original sound.

My recent performances include the trilogy Rupture, Asphyxia and Suspended (performed at Chelsea Theatre London, Green Room Manchester, Mitchell Theatre Madison Wisconsin, Colchester Arts Centre, Brighton Fringe, National Theatre Studio, Birmingham Rep Door, Barbican Plymouth, Cummings Art at Stanford/California and many others). My films and installations have been shown at Oblong Gallery London, Rochelle Galleries London, Phoenix Brighton, October Salon Belgrade etc.

My current performance Internal Terrains is on tour throughout 2013 at Salisbury Arts Centre, Playhouse Derry (as part of the City of Culture), Colchester Arts Centre, Project Arts Centre Dublin, Chelsea Theatre London, Point Centre for Contemporary Art Nicosia/Cyprus, Capstone Liverpool, Rich Mix London and Artsdepot London, with further dates regularly updated on my website.

My work has been funded by Arts Council England, Hosking Houses Trust, Platforma, Humanities Research Fund, Tower Hamlets and numerous commissions and residencies.

As a collaborator I have devised and performed in Pacitti Company’s Finale at Roma Europa Festival, Blast Theory’s Ulrike and Eamon Compliant at Urban Mutations Dresden, Sheila Ghelani’s Nurse Knows Best at Brixton Academy and Battersea Arts Centre, Mikhail Karikis’ Xenon Act 2 on a UK tour, Ruth Ewan and Artangel’s project at Tate Britain, Tino Sehgal’s These Associations commission for Tate Modern (Unilever Series), Helen Paris and Caroline Wright’s Out of Water in San Francisco California etc. I have worked as dramaturge and writer with Marisa Carnesky. As producer, I have collaborated with Akram Khan Company, Bobby Baker, Guy Dartnell, Julia Bardsley, Helena Hunter, Gretchen Schiller, Othon Mataragas and others.

Previous work experience also includes British Council (Education Officer and Co-ordinator on a desert project in Syria; Country Services Officer and Executive on a Monbusho project in Tokyo; co-managing a portfolio of 30 countries in Drama, Dance and Live Art), and Arts Council (assessing grants, managing a portfolio of regularly funded theatre organisations and contributing to policy writing).

I am a visiting/guest lecturer at Birkbeck University and Brunel University and have delivered talks and workshops across the world.

Research interests

Interdisciplinary performance practices

Autobiographical performance and individual mythologies

Live art

Performance and place (site-specific performance)

Identity performance in the context of migration, displacement and hybridity

Trauma and performance

Memory and materiality

Performance and cultural politics

Body art

Practice as research