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I am a Research Associate of the Centre for Media Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. I have a PhD in Art and Archaeology, from SOAS. I was Reader in Visual Culture and Dance Performance at the University of Roehampton, London, until August 2013 but I quit the position. I wrote a piece about why I resigned for the Times Higher Education.
Much of my research work has involved the Asian arts, inclusive of dance performance, as part of an analysis of visual culture, embracing areas such as media, uniting the visual and auditory image, body and environment into one single artistic form of communication and reflecting the blurring of the boundaries between the concepts and practices of ‘visual’ and ‘performing’ arts.
I describe much of my work as trans-disciplinary: a transformative encounter which, through a reflexive approach, creates environments for research as networks of creative interaction and translation, blurring disciplinary boundaries.
My work on South and Southeast Asian visual and performing arts has been wholly sustained by my interest in archaeology and archaeological theory. My archaeological interest links up with my media interest and the issue of performance mediatization and the consequent production of artefacts of performance – affecting current notions of materiality, and of visual and material culture. It is also connected with my interest in heritage issues: what constitutes heritage and how this is constructed.
My career trajectory: after my SOAS PhD, a few years of travel in Asia on small research grants and brief stints as a visiting lecturer, from 1998 to 2000 I was at the Oriental Institute and a member of Wolfson College, University of Oxford, researching Javanese images of Siva, their classification and the representation of the male body in ancient Javanese art, with the support of a Wingate Scholarship. I then became Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, from 2000 to 2002 working on a virtual exploration of the ninth century Prambanan temple site in Java and its dance imagery, with the support of a once in a lifetime Getty Collaborative Research Grant. I then joined the University of Roehampton.
Following my involvement, from 2002 to 2007, with the erstwhile AHRC Research Centre for Crosscultural Music and Dance Performance, a Centre made up by three UK institutions (Roehampton, SOAS and University of Surrey), my research interests focused on contemporary dance practices of Indonesia. With additional funding from the ASEASUK British Academy Committee for Southeast Asia in 2006-2007 I researched strategies of resistance to dominant culture through choreography which questions silences and erasures in the re-imagining of women, looking at the work of Balinese dancer Ni Madé Pujawati in London.
I curated a photographic exhibition on the theme of photographing Asian Dance Theatre, at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS. The exhibition ran from Jan to March 2009. There is an online portfolio relating to the exhibition, containing supporting material.
After an illness in 2010, I developed an interest in dance and cross-cultural movement healing practices. I attended a two year course in Experiential Dance/Movement Studies (dance/movement psychotherapy) at Roehampton from 2010 to 2012 and became drawn to psychoanalysis which I studied through courses at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London, throughout 2012 and 2013 and lectures and seminars at the London Society of the New Lacanian School.
It was through psychoanalysis that I became intereted in fashion and I later became acquainted with positive psychology and the psychology of fashion as taught by Dr Carolyn Mair at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts. I am currently becoming quite involved in issues of ageing, fashion and body image perhaps reflecting the fact that I am growing old! I participated in the research summer school on ageing at the Centre for Women, Ageing and Media in July 2013 at the University of Gloucestershire and am trying to develop more work in this growing area. I am a member of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, an initiative founded by Caryn Franklin, Debra Bourne and supermodel Erin O'Connor to change current perceptions of the body in fashion and the media. Throughout the autumn/winter of 2015 I will be in residence at EFEO Jakarta, Indonesia, doing research on fashion and its impact on Indonesian women, following the award of a research fellowship by BA/ASEASUK/ECAF.
My non-academic interests include dance, yoga and swimming, as well as photography - I am an amateur photographer, working with medium format analogue cameras as well as digital. I also have a parallel career as a model, balancing commercial and editorial work. I occasionally perform - I danced in The Bridge, an interactive dance performance, part of Big Dance, which took place on the Millenium Bridge in June 2012 and have appeared twice (in 2012 and in 2013) in Hysteria, a play by Terry Johnson inspired by the famed encounter in 1938 between Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali. I have also appeared in several music videos. I write a blog, The real does not efface itself using my model's pseudonym and from the perspective of a model, although it is often hard to separate the model from the researcher.
Photo by Natalia Lipchanskaya, winner of Diversity Now 2013 Prize