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I am an Independent Scholar and a Research Associate of the Centre for Media and Film Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I have a PhD in Art and Archaeology from SOAS, University of London. I was Reader in Visual Culture and Dance Performance at the University of Roehampton, London, until August 2013 but I quit the position as I found the current turn in British Higher Education very stifling. 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 a trans-disciplinary 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 transdisciplinary, in the sense highlighted by art historian Griselda Pollock: 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.
I was 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 Getty Collaborative Research Grant. Earlier I was at the Oriental Institute and a member of Wolfson College, Oxford, researching Javanese images of Siva, their classification and the representation of the male body in ancient Javanese art, with the help of a Wingate Scholarship.
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 have 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. To sustain this interest I attended a two year course in Experiential Dance/Movement Studies (dance/movement psychotherapy) at Roehampton from 2010 to 2012. During this time I became drawn to psychoanalysis after rediscovering Julia Kristeva's work. As a result, I took the decision to study psychoanalysis in greater depth, attended courses at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London, throughout 2012 and 2013 and then switched to attending lectures and seminars at the London Society of the New Lacanian School. In many ways, things have come full circle as my original training was in archaeology and the affinities between psychoanalysis and archaeology have been noted, as archaeology inspired Freud!
My research interests are currently changing, as I am becoming quite involved in issues of ageing, perhaps reflecting the fact that I am getting 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 hoping to develop more work in this growing area.
My non-academic interests include 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 and in commercials, as well as editorial features. I also write a blog, The real does not efface itself using my model's pseudonym and from the perspective of a model.
Photo by Natalia Lipchanskaya, winner of Diversity Now 2013 Prize