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Maternal Ruptures/Raptures: Leakages of the Real

Rippel, Ildiko ORCID: and Garton, R. (2017) Maternal Ruptures/Raptures: Leakages of the Real. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts, 22 (4). pp. 36-43. ISSN Print: 1352-8165 Online: 1469-9990

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Julia Kristeva describes the hallucinatory state between the real and the symbolic as rapture: “The rapture of the hallucination originates in the absence of boundaries between pleasure and reality, between truth and falsehood” (Kristeva, in Oliver 2002: 207). The real can only be accessed through this hallucinatory rapture:

Floating in isolation, this vision of an unnamed real rejects all nomination and any possible narrative. Instead it remains enigmatic, setting the field of speech ablaze only to reduce it to cold ashes, fixing in this way a hallucinatory and untouchable jouissance. (Kristeva 1986: 227)

The symbolic order of language is described by Kristeva as ‘cold ashes’, a mere residue of the flames of the real. The real according to Kristeva remains untouchable, a notion similar to Lacan’s “encounter with the real”, which is always “a missed encounter” (Lacan 2004 [1977]: 55). The 2,000 word provocation proposed for Performance Research will argue that the maternal in performance has the capacity to set representation ablaze, to rupture the symbolic and to infuse performance with the rapturous sparks of the real. The provocation will utilise Zoo Indigo’s PaR performances Under the Covers (2009), which presents the performers’ babies via live video link, and Blueprint (2012), featuring the performers’ real-life mothers on SKYPE video call, as case studies to argue that the non-performance of motherhood can enable the emergence of the real in theatre.

Kristeva depicts motherhood as the maternal time, “the slow, difficult and delightful apprenticeship in attentiveness, gentleness, forgetting oneself” (Kristeva 1981: 31). Lisa Baraitser describes these interruptions as “breaches, tears or puncturings to the mother’s durational experiences bringing her back “again and again” into the realm of the immediate, the present, the here-and-now of the child or infant’s demand” (Baraitser 2009: 110). This immediacy responding to the corporeal urges of the child render the maternal encounter real. This provocation aims to argue that the maternal encounter in Zoo Indigo’s performances causes a transcendence towards the real, with reference to psychoanalysis, specifically the writings by Julia Kristeva and Lisa Baraitser. Kristeva notes: “Milk and tears […] are the metaphors of nonspeech, of a ‘semiotics’ that linguistic communication does not account for” (Kristeva, in Oliver 2002: 322). The release of breast milk is beyond the symbolic order, it transports us to Kristeva’s semiotic, the non-symbolic, the real. The provocation will analyse the leakage of breast milk in Under the Covers, when performers experienced the let-down reflex and release of milk when seeing their babies on screen, and the leakage of tears in Blueprint, in the moments when mothers and daughters returned to a maternal encounter beyond the symbolic. The provocation will argue that real mother-child relationships in performance remain unperformed and beyond representation, and that the maternal fluids of blood, milk and tears erupting in Zoo Indigo’s work cause a momentary leakage of the real into the symbolic framework of theatre.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: theatre, performance, maternal body, 'Under the covers', 'Blue Print', Julia Kristeva, rapture, rupture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ildiko Rippel
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2017 12:51
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2020 10:44

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