The investigation of the constraints and paradoxes of theatrical representation is central for Catherine Sullivan’s work. Her film pieces, theater productions and prop-like sculptures are directly and experientially related to acting practice and the schizoid structure arising from the discrepancies between role, person and body. Sullivan is interested in formal techniques employed to code expression as well as in the devices employed to generate and determine the behaviors of the performers. Using the grammar of theater, she successfully reveals culturally inscribed ways of coding gesture and ultimately the defining patterns of the self. The point of departure for Catherine Sullivan’s new film piece ‘The Chittendens’ is informed by numeric scoring strategies and their potential relation to actors and performance. To what extent can actions be divided into isolated, quantifiable entities, in analogy to a musical composition? How are self-possession and self-determination articulated between resistance and compliance with the assigned poses?
The catalogue published in conjunction with her exhibition is conceived as an artist book focusing entirely on the new project, ‘The Chittendens’, documenting different notes of its development. It is co-produced by Tate Modern, London.