For the past decade, my artistic research practice has explored the performative aspect of drawing. Recently, I have come to realize how the performative process can function as an experience of catharsis. By examining a selection of works from my practice, Cassils, Louise Bourgeois, Ana Mendieta and Tracey Emin, that exemplify the act of mark making through processes of encountering intense states of the body, ‘Trace and catharsis: Embodied drawing’ explores the concept of drawing as the residue of performance. I will investigate catharsis as a performative gesture in itself – the release of internalized distress through acts of externalization and exertion. This gesture – immediate, impulsive and compulsive in nature – draws a direct relationship to Aristotle’s notions of catharsis and the bodily manifestations of anxiety that Sigmund Freud describes. Through Amelia Jones’s and Catherine de Zegher’s ideas of mark making, I will examine how traces produced by this gesture can be performative in its materiality and evocation of the artist’s body.