Friday, 4 March 2011

Carali McCall

We met Carali at Central St Martins School of art on 16th march 2011. The visiting group included Jaye Ho, Jaquie Utley, Jim Hobbs and Louise Colbourne.

Carali opened the talk with a performance. In pitch darkness we could hear a recording of Carali’s heart beat, as well as the live sound of Carali breathing deeply and steadily throughout, the performance lasted about 10 minutes. Carali also showed us video documentation of two performances of her running in difficult locations and extreme weather conditions. The out-come was in the form of footage from a camera which was strapped to Carali’s chest whilst she ran.

We then talked about the presentation of performance art and the authenticity of experience for the artist as well as the negation of the visual experience for the audience, amongst many other things....

Some of Carali’s thoughts after the visit were:

  • Using sound and darkness - the body tries to measure the distance, type of space the body is in, and feels vulnerable.
  • Communication between us = relates to our past experience.
  • Where's the work going? ...trying to find ways to make a bodily presence with no visual.
  • Movement and sound of the live body to make embodied artworks.
  • Using actions that have a breaking point. The journey of the unexpected.

Here is a short audio sample of some of the studio visit:

Carali McCall is an artist born in Canada, now living in London. She graduated from the Slade School of Art in 2006 with an MFA in sculpture, and is currently pursuing a practice-based PhD at Central Saint Martins, UAL on a research project titled ‘Marking Process: A Hybrid Model Between Drawing and Performance.’ Her practice explores an approach to drawing through duration and movement that tests the boundaries of her body. She works within a performative context developing an area concerned with expenditure, transmission and the reception. Operating in a field that draws from phenomenology, her practice discusses the extensions of the body and it's experience to time, questioning what constitutes marking as a drawing, and how does the ‘materiality’ of the body exist beyond its limits. In recent events, she has worked alongside other artists to perform long durational drawings, identifying a practice that responds, traces and records moving and marking as process. Some examples are drawing continuously with graphite for 3 hrs the diameter of her arm, or documenting the expenditure of running a marathon through the breath.


  1. HI Carali, I'm interested in to what extent our bodies define our experience of self, with particular regard to collaboration, co-action, group dynamics etc, and was interested to hear your thoughts on the piece you described where you were being 'coached' to jump higher. Did you find that you were more focused in on your physical experience bounded by the limits of the body, or did the 'coach' voice take on some qualities of your interior Will. I am particularly thinking of research in neuro science which is finding that often our sense of authorship or of having willed an action are miss founded.
    I would agree that any investigation into the Body needs to look into it via a non-visual medium such as you suggest with sound. Deprived of visual information, the interior architecture of the body is very different from its observed form.
    I liked your studio visit.

  2. Interesting question/comment from Sam. Carali's performance was a very focused and intimate experience. It was staged in pitch darkness so the sound was therefore intensified, as was our own physical presence in the room and our awareness of one-another. It's interesting to notice how depriving one or more senses will intensify the others.
    Jacquie Utley wrote to me about the studio visit and said:
    'What I found particularly fascinating about Carali work was the visual absence of the body although with the sound and motion the body was very much present- which seemed to create especially in the two performance video pieces both a push and pull at the same time which brought a visibility to that space'.
    Jacquie was also interested in the ideas about repetition in Carali's work that we talked about during the visit...

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  4. I do feel restricted from physical limits of my body, and working collaboratively heightens this awareness, while working in darkness accesses a more responsive situation to sound, and to a notion that there is a porous boundary between us.

    Through the senses, the body has a particular structure to act between subject and object. Although the body is both object (for others) and a lived reality (for the subject), it is never simply object or simply subject. Our bodies relate, engage, respond and are influenced by our surroundings.(Grosz, 1994: 87)

    Thinking about drawing while drawing, enables me to consider how my body acts as an instrument to perceive the corporeal world whilst also being part of it. I think it is through the embodied mind in which determine its boundaries and limitations. And it is this condition that underpins my practice.

    Did I find that I was more focused on my physical experience bounded by the limits of the body? Yes, the 'coach' voice eventually through exhaustion became internal in my world. I think Sam, your question of authorship is interesting, particularly in performance, if our body bases all knowledge of 'how' it experiences the world and are intertwined with other things. And by describing these experiences either individually or collaborative extends the idea and notion of identity.

    Re: Repetition. Some thoughts...

    There is an indefinable echo or doubling that occurs in the sharing of the space during a performance. The sense of duration can also be experienced as stretched and limitless while also ruptured and discontinuous. It functions simultaneously as singular, unified and whole, as well as in specific fragments and multiplicitous proliferation (Grosz, 1999: 17).

    A repetitive action during live performances can explore the sense of duration while playing with the temporal dimensions – the familiar turns unfamiliar, chance, uncertainty – to perhaps identify how something so similar is connected to our own unique experiences.