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Ever-renewing delight : humour, ritual and performance of ecstasy
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posted on 21.02.2017by White, Deborah M.
Ever-Renewing Delight: Humour, Ritual and Performance of Ecstasy investigates the seductive power of ritual to evoke the heightened emotion of ecstasy. This project draws on my personal experience of ecstasy, a primal emotion that has the sensation of losing awareness of the physical body creating a joyous feeling of being one with the universe. The research contextualized in
this exegesis served to develop my personal experience of ecstasy into a contemporary video installation. Towards this aim the themes explored are the sacred and ecstasy, ritual in performance art and humour of the ecstatic experience.
My studio practice of performance-based video was enhanced by extensive research. The writings of George Bataille informed my perspective on the sacred and ecstasy within a capitalist society. My knowledge of ritual was derived from the research of Axel Michaels, from my investigation of shamanic
techniques of ecstasy and from field research I conducted in Hindu temples of
southern India. The use of ritual was further examined in the performance art of
Joseph Beuys, Ana Mendieta, Almagul Menlibayeva and Stuart Ringholt. As my
experience of ecstasy is a voyage of joyous playfulness I wanted to develop an
appropriate strategy to express the humour of ecstasy. To achieve this I explored
the Socratic irony of the spiritual teachings of crazy wisdom and the writings of
Gilles Deleuze and Mikhail Bakhtin on humour and the carnival, respectively.
These theoretical aspects informed the analysis of irony and humour in the
shamanic performance of Marcus Coates and the carnivalesque style of Spartacus
Chetwynd's performance art.
This exegesis was written in conjunction with the creation of one major
video installation, Ever-Renewing Delight (2014) that encompasses my ideas of
ecstasy. The outcome of this research is a multi-projection video installation that
uses the seductive power of ritual and humour to create an intimate ritual space
with the intention of evoking joy and delight.