Drawn-Out: trace and catharsis

Drawn-Out: trace and catharsis explores the act of encountering intense states of the body as an experience of catharsis. By re-creating and enacting intense psychological, emotional and physical states in performance art, artists may elicit a sense of empathy in the viewer or audience. Drawing from Aristotle’s notion of catharsis and Amelia Jones’ theories of performativity, this thesis investigates how the performative act or event has the potential to function as a form of catharsis for both artist and audience. It examines the experience of intense bodily states through Henri Bergson’s notion of intensity and ‘affective sensations,’ Sigmund Freud’s theories on anxiety and repression, and Maurice Blanchot’s notion of passivity as described in The Writing of the Disaster (1980).

The studio component of the thesis is comprised of a video and audio installation documenting a recent durational performance which is accompanied by a series of text-based mono-prints. This installation significantly extends my exploration into the use of sound as trace which was embarked upon in a similar series of performances completed over the past two years. The mono-prints depict severe psychological and emotional states, such as anxiety, which drive my performance.

Publication type

Unpublished Master of Fine Arts Thesis


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Literature, Art and Media, Sydney College of the Arts


The University of Sydney