Mark James Hamilton and Rosanna Raymond – X-ova: Artifacts, Embodiment and Sensual Spaces

Event Date: 25 May 2012
MY120 Avenue Campus
University of Northampton

Seeing and Being Seen: Postcolonial Visual Culture and Performance

The University of Northampton is proud to present an exciting day of postcolonial performance, poetry and visual culture at Avenue Campus, School of the Arts.

The Seeing and Being Seen: Postcolonial Visual Culture and Performance Symposium will be convening at 10:30 am and starting at 11:00am, the day will begin with the unique opportunity of hearing Karthika Naїr and Slam poet Polarbear discussing their innovative and prestigious 2012 Laurence Olivier award winning dance production, ‘Desh’ before moving on to a presentation by performance artists, Dr Mark James Hamilton and Rosanna Raymond.

Themes relating to postcolonial cinema, theatre and visual culture will also be addressed by among others, Professors Dominic Alessio and Patrick Williams as well as by exciting upcoming scholars, Arifani Moyo (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Anna Maria Everding (University of Northampton).

Dr Mark James Hamilton and Rosanna RaymondX-ova: Artifacts, Embodiment and Sensual Spaces

If time is weaving a new global cultural mat, Raymond and Hamilton are curious warp threads. Their artistic, scholarly, and personal lives first crossed concretely in 2000. Eleven years later their parallel paths reconnected, crossing their warps once more, and – maybe? – beginning a new weave.
On Saturday 8th July 2000, Mika – queer Maori artist extraordinaire – invited Raymond and Hamilton to join him on stage at The Radio 1 Love Parade. This was the biggest free party the UK has ever held – maximum estimates suggested 400,000 attended. Mika and his invitees danced for top DJ Judge Jules, as he launched his wife Amanda as club-anthem diva Angelic, singing her charting single It’s My Turn. Looking back to this day,each having travelled deeper into the intercultural interface, Raymond and Hamilton ask: “What were we doing? Bedecked in feathers and beads, body paint, tapa and silk, dancing a siva, with splashes of haka and various motifs. Were we wittingly, deceptively or otherwise playing ‘The Other.’ Was strategy afoot, or absent? Did we care too little about this question then? Have we cared too much about it since?”
In her book Ethnic Drag, Katrin Sieg considers the risks of playing with the appeal of the exotic: “Does not the actor’s body risk lending corporeal proof to images believed to be accurate?” (Sieg 2002: 222). Does Raymond’s Polynesian genealogy empower her with authority to play as she chooses – is her expression authenticated by DNA? Can Hamilton’s adaption to adopted enclaves ever eclipse his white British descent – is he ever the imperial infiltrator? Can this man and woman be living ‘live artists’ first, and representatives second? These concerns walked with the artists, as they entered academia and the archives.

In July 2011, Raymond and Hamilton met once more, when he returned from Aotearoa to London, where she had remained. He entered a room to find her animating objects – with touch, words and presence – from the Polynesian collections held in the Cumings Museum in South London. As she spoke, and he listened, time folded and their warps crossed again. Today, through words spoken and sung – in languages British and Pacific, and registers scholarly and personal – and movements both refined and raw, Raymond and Hamilton explore core understandings gleaned in their decade apart. They tease out for the first time the potential ways in which their parallel outsider-insider journeys connect. How has their non-native entry into hallowed spaces – marae and museums, tribal grounds and imperial collections – similarly tempered the warp of their ways and their works?

Dr. Mark James Hamilton trained at the University of Birmingham (UK) and with classical Indian dancer Priya Srikumar in Edinburgh. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Canterbury (NZ), for examination of the erotics of contemporary intercultural performance. Over the past decade, Mark’s career in the Asia Pacific region has ranged from performance of his own solo dance works, to co-creation of a Māori pop opera with a symphony orchestra. He has convened and continues to arrange international gatherings through which scholars and practitioners explore the interface of the martial arts and theatre. His practice-based research explores notions of the transcultural in performance. His teaching is a synthesis of the European practices of Rudolf Laban, Jerzy Grotowski and Roy Hart, with the hereditary and contemporary arts of the region of Kerala (South India), and of Māori culture. Mark is an affiliate of a number of academic and artistic professional bodies. Amongst these are: Asian Performing Arts Network, Dance Base (Scottish National Centre
for Dance), The Voice Studio International (UK); New Zealand South Asia Centre and Mika Haka Foundation (NZ); CVN Kalari East Fort Thiruvananthapuram & Samudra Performing Arts (Kerala, India).

Rosanna Raymond is a performance/installation/body adornment artist and writer. A New Zealand born Pacific Islander of Samoan descent, she is currently living and working in London with her family. She is also a founding member of the acclaimed Pacific Sisters performance art collective in New Zealand. A ‘Tusitala’ at heart, Raymond’s work takes a variety of forms ranging from installation works to spoken word to body adornment, with pieces held in gallery, museum and private collections around the world, including the Museum für Völkerkunde (Germany), the Auckland Art Gallery (NZ), and the National Gallery of Victoria, (Australia). Raymond has forged a role over the past 15 years as a producer and commentator on contemporary urban Pacific Island culture, fusing traditional practises with modern innovations and techniques. During 2005 she was the Distinguished Visiting Artist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and is undertaking a residency in New York as well as a performance commissioned for the annual meeting of the Pacific Arts Association, in Salem, USA.







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