Performance Lecture entitled “Seeking Significance and Accomplishment: Towards an Aged Female Embodiment”

  • Bridie Moore (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The Lived Female Body in Performance, University of Leeds, April 3 2019

Following Kathleen Woodward (1991), to reject our mirror image as we age produces a disconnection between the visible manifestation and the subjective experience of identity, producing a crisis of embodiment and legibility. Woodward proposes that at the end of life there is an equivalent stage to Lacan’s mirror stage of infancy, in which in a reversal of the Lacanian infant – who understands and accepts the image in the mirror as a representation of his or her own body – the old person rejects their mirror image as not a true representation of their embodied self. This rejection brings on a psychic crisis: ‘[w]here then would we be located? Outside the mirror? Caught between the double and the absent?’ (Woodward, 1991: 67). How is it possible for the ageing female body to be inhabited and to be read? Can performance acknowledge and shift perceptions of the ageing female body as abject, incontinent and fearful, (Kristeva, 1982), or scandalously anachronistic (Russo, 1999).

Developed partly in conjunction with Terry O’Connor (Forced Entertainment) and meditating on the exquisite dilemma of ageing female embodiment, in which ageing is both perceived and rejected, this autoethnographical performance lecture exposes the reflexive dilemma and the phenomenological experience of a migration towards ageing femininity.

Performance, as Hamlet claims, is the mirror ‘held up, as ‘twere, to nature’. As such it is also able to bring into appearance acts that counter normative assumptions about the ‘natural’ ways of reading the ageing female body; accordingly the piece proposes, discusses and demonstrates scenographical and physical strategies designed to encounter the phenomenon of ageing femininity as well as questioning the ‘constitutive acts’ (Butler, 1990) that produce age in its intersection with femininity. It finally proposes a radical embodiment of ‘significant shape’ and ‘accomplished form’ (Cristofovici, 1999) as a possible performative practice that might be undertaken by the ageing female body.

Emerging out of Bridie Moore’s practice-as-research PhD project this Performance Lecture draws on Feminist literature from the 1980s and 90s to develop a performative and autoethnographical exploration of the lived experience of ageing femininity.
Period3 Apr 2019
Event titleThe Lived Female Body in Performance
Event typeExhibition
LocationLeeds, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational