Self-Obliteration #1 & #2


Politics of Ecstasy. Improv-Performance.

"The Self-Obliteration series is not literally about suicide, and also not a metaphor for destroying the ego, but creates an aggravated, suspended state. Again, like much of my work, it's backed up by heavy life experiences: I attempted suicide a number of times between the ages of 15 and 25, and that will always stigmatize me. A brand of shame is applied to didactic self-destructions, but I've experienced a fuller range of revelation within that dark place. It can be a final act of strength, rather than a vortex of unmedicated depression. Somehow these thoughts started brewing after I explored what it means to be an Ecstatic, as a through-line in my research. I've always had a tendency to trance out, to have audio hallucinations, or visions. How lucky for me to be born into a radical Pentecostal family of five schizophrenic Scorpio women. In other pieces I've explored the vocal and movement aspects of these experiences, but the Ecstatic identification reaches from birth to my current performance practice, coming from within myself. So I let my psycho-neurological system run wild within a framework - in Self-Obliteration #1 that being a wig, five needles and two sheets of plate glass - could this happen with minimal action? This glass scene came from Incorruptible Flesh (Perpetual Wound). Identifying myself, the decomposing post-AIDS survivor, with the eternally gaping and unhealing wound of Philoctetes, the glass was used as a barrier to press my nasty gash against the fresh wound I inflicted on your body, as a young Neoptolemus figure run through a Pink Narcissus filter. This is followed by an action on the floor where I shuffle the two sheets of bloody glass over my supine body: a sick frenzy, then holding a pose, and back to a display as a living corpse. In Self-Obliteration #1, without the interplay of the blood from two bodies, I found pleasure in an emotional distance from the traumatized body, and a fusion of stigmata and glamour ... Self-Obliteration #2: Sustained Rapture came about when images and a litany of words came to me in a dream, and I concluded that my deepest desire was to rupture to obliteration in an ecstatic state, specifically through hard sex. Is this a revelation? It did startle me that the destructiveness of my sexual fantasies has not changed since puberty. I don't believe dreams are always prophetic, but appreciate that these images can come from a well-lubricated source. In the mornings when I was a child, my grandmother discerned my dreams with a lap full of interpretation books. She encouraged cognitive dreaming, so many of my dreams were on repeatplay until the desired outcome was finished or changed. I dreamed that I was facing off a man, and I was talking. I remembered the sound pattern but not the words. I was delivering a relentless litany. So I wrote to the man this was directed at, and then the dream repeated itself, but this time the words hung in the air with form, like that of ectoplasm. The content, what I heard myself saying with urgency and brutal flourishes, was more like a manifesto, calling for me to abandon conventions, emotional safeguarding and complacency, in order to build a deeper love. This came to sex with no boundaries, a willingness to literally have no limits in the interaction of animalistic sex. This idea of intense pleasure ramped up to full-throttle, would it be able to stop before the death drive at the brink?" (Quelle: Dominic Johnson, "Perverse Martyrologies: An Interview with Ron Athey", in Contemporary Theatre Review, Vol 18 (4), 2008, S.513f.; Programmheft HAU 2)

Ron Athey
Christof Debler
23 min