“She displayed an ‘other’ femininity, both carnal and strong.”

An incredible review of my Achillia performance at Tempting Failure 2013 by Natalie Raven for Total Theatre magazine.

Traumata’s Achillia was a set-time piece, performed in the Isolation Block, an empty, whitewashed room with flaky floors and peeling paint. A circle of spilt milk gently trickled across the dirty floor. It glistened poetically in artificial light. The female performer entered, half clothed in a long white gown which trailed the floor. Scar tissue on the performer’s exposed upper torso bore the marks of performances past; a body in trauma which lived to tell the tale. Milk began to bleed upwards into the fabric as faint drops of crimson blood spotted the robe, hinting at an underlying injury.

Slowly, and with conviction, she bound her wrists. The skirt was gradually lifted to expose needles which pierced her skin above each knee. After mental preparation, the performer walked to her left. She squatted, back straight against the wall in a seated position, arms above the head. The position was held for an extended period, during which the physical manifestations of a body struggling against exhaustion begun to take form. Skin reddened, thighs shook, face contorted; signals of a body in pain, desperate to resist its own weakness.

I was transfixed. I felt an almost sadistic pleasure in watching her muscles begin to weaken and shake, violently. Internally, I screamed over and over for her to continue: ‘don’t give up!’ I longed for her to win the battle against herself. Inevitably, she slumped to the floor having lost. Standing up, she walked to the centre of the space, stood within the milk once more and removed a needle. Blood tickled down the leg and swirled itself into the white liquid at her feet; a moment of visual pleasure, abject horror and corporeal transgression.

For me, Traumata’s performance was about the feminine struggle against a history of patriarchal tradition and virtue. I saw the performer as an ideological feminine figure, both maternal and virtuous. Draping herself in white linen and surrounding herself with milk, she was both Mother and Virgin. What I enjoyed the most about this performance was the complete deconstruction of these socially fashioned feminine roles. She displayed an ‘other’ femininity, both carnal and strong.

Achillia at Tempting Failure, reviewed

/Traumata/Bobby Whittaker

Image by Bobby Whittaker

Hellen performed in the white isolation space; harsh unsympathetic light and blistering sound preempted her arrival into the space. Through a door marked “no entry” she walked in, stood in the space and carefully wrapped her wrists in white bandages. Her torso was naked and she lifted the long white skirt, already showing traces of blood, revealing eight long pins penetrating the flesh above each knee. No one moved or looked away. She walked to a wall in the space; I could see her back against the wall, arms raised and legs bent in a seated position. Her muscles began to shake as she exposed her body’s inability to sustain the pose. At the point of exhaustion she fell and returned to the centre, removing a pin from her flesh and dropping it into a metal bowl containing a white liquid. This sequence of physical endurance was repeated until all the pins were removed. I found it hard to watch. The piercings were brutal, muscular and un-cosmetic. I could imagine the unseen encounter and force required to push the sliver of metal through her tissue. However, I was compelled by her strength, determination and presence, the power in her body her refusal to stop. Commanding the audience to watch, to witness and support her through until the end and she left the space.

Looking Back: Tempting Failure 2013, Helena Sands for Exeunt Magazine.

Come To The Cabaret: The Independent




Well this is pretty awesome. My Red Rabbit/Double R Club performance got a mention in The Independent!

“A woman dubbed Traumata pulled needles out from under the skin of her forehead. The blood ran down over her white corset and underwear as she lifted her arms into the cruciform pose, looking like a sexualised female Christ minus the crown of thorns.”

Read the full article here: Come To The Cabaret. My first time in the national press!

[Image credit: Soulstealer.co.uk]