Phd Candidate at the Royal College of Art, London, UK
Research funding with AHRC TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership

Founding member of the Speaking of Her, Research Network, Royal College of Art, London

PhD Project, Royal College of Art
Speaking With: New Forms of Notation for Scoring Excess

Keywords: Feminism, Refusal, Performance, Score, Excess

EventsSpeaking With, organised by Marita Fraser and Caroline Douglas, June 12, 2019, Royal College of Art.


I propose the term speaking with as a feminist method of practice that works with material, bodies and archive; bringing readers, writers, makers and the materials of practice close. Speaking with holds in mind an awareness of proximity, resisting the urge to colonalise that which we come close to. Frottage, Fandom, I love to you (Irigaray) are examined as modes of speaking with and the work of Beatrice Gibson, Florence Peake and Carolee Schneeman are discussed in order to tease out what speaking with offers feminist practitioners today. The score, as instructional text based works, has been utilised in art practice from the late 1950’s to the present. This research project is a feminist analysis of the use of scores in art making, through the lens of three key terms: speaking with, refusal and voicing excess. This project asks where and how to we situate the work of others within our practice, and how does the score bring this about.

Refusal is a processual force in art practice and writing that creates spaces of cultural production from which feminist, maternal, non-normative and non-patriarchal voices can be heard. This project foregrounds Italian feminist Carlo Lonzi’s construction of herself as ‘nothing’, as a cultural body acting through and within refusal, as a starting point to ask how does ‘nothing’ speak. The research considers the writing of Carla Lonzi; the poetry and essays of Anne Boyer; the writing and performance of Yvonne Rainer, and the performative practice of Florence Peak, as refusal as a method continues to connect to the urgency of the arts today and why the score is a necessary form in enacting refusal.

The score was embraced by feminist art practitioners through the 1960’s and onward as an important method of making work which enabled a space ‘off the page’, between text and its reading/performance via endless mutable repetitions, to be activated. It is this ‘off the page’ space generated through the making and performance of scores which holds and speaks of excess. Here I understand excess to be the subjective, the collaborative, the personal and the social; being poly-vocal and chorus like. The score as text work sits across genres of poetry, fiction, autofiction, instruction and script. As a slippery form of writing and performing, the score allows for collaboration in authorship, voices, and bodies. Within contemporary practice, the score continues to be a vital form in text, film, painting and performance practices. Through my own practice of writing, performing, film making and painting, and feminist analysis of others, this project offers speaking with as a new method for thinking about and working with score based practice.