Performing Theory (Master Class with Michelle Williams Gamaker)

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This series of Master Classes aims to present a wide variety of approaches to the artistic production of ideas in audio-visual form.  We are inviting performance artists and moving image makers whose work (written, performed, filmed) manifests theoretical innovation.  The latter part of the 20th century produced body of Anglo-American writing and work that are recognised today as canonical as with Hollis Frampton, Maya Deren, Peter Gidal for example.  With this series we want to produce a sample of this kind of interplay between ideas and creating that are underway today.  In so doing, we hope to open the field of play between theory and works to create new conversations.

Prospective Speakers:  Michelle Williams Gamaker, Constanze Ruhm, Christopher Harris, Morgan Quaintance, Naeem Mohaiemen

Upcoming dates include: 3 May, 24 May, 7 June, 14 June and 28 June.

Please join us for a Master Class with Michelle Williams Gamaker who will be discussing her work as well as addressing issues around the making of work in today’s artworld.

Date: Friday 3 May
Time: 14:00-17:00
Venue: Birkbeck Cinema
43 Gordon Square

About Michelle Williams Gamaker

Michelle Williams Gamaker is a moving image and performance artist. Her work explores the fiction-making machine of 20C British and Hollywood studio films by restaging sequences to reveal cinematic construction, and recasting characters to propose alternative endings that counter their often doom-laden plight. 

Williams Gamaker’s key focus is the development of ‘fictional activism’: the restoration of marginalised brown characters as central figures, who return in her works as vocal brown protagonists challenging the fictional injustices to which they have been historically consigned. Scriptwriting, workshopping with actors, acquiring film paraphernalia and producing props for the intricate staging of her film sets are all vital elements in the re-enactment of the artificial landscapes that shaped Williams Gamaker’s love of cinema.

She recently completed Dissolution, a trilogy of films comprising House of Women (2017), The Fruit is There to be Eaten (2018), and The Eternal Return (2019) in which characters from Powell and Pressburger’s 1947 Black Narcissus unravel as they become aware of their screen and staged realities.

Fictional activists are mutable subjects that can be played either by Williams Gamaker herself – such as her alter ego Violet Culbo – or by long-term collaborators who take on multiple personas including that of the Indian-born US film star Sabu – or characters such as Kanchi from Black Narcissus (1947), and O-Lan from The Good Earth (1937).

Collaboration is also a crucial element of Williams Gamaker’s work; since 2009 she has worked with American artist Julia Kouneski, revisiting the work of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s psychotherapeutic research as inspiration for interventions with the body, architecture and landscape. 

Born in London, in 1979
Lives and works in London

Terms and conditions

By registering below you are requesting a place on this training programme or selected sessions that form part of the programme. A member of the CHASE team or the workshop leader will contact you in due course to confirm that a place has been allocated to you. If you no longer require a place, please email as soon as possible so your name can be removed from the registration list.  

If you are allocated a place but can no longer attend, please cancel your eventbrite registration (information on how to do this can be found here) or email so that your place can be reallocated. CHASE training is free to attend and events are often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Failure to notify us of non-attendance in good time (ideally 5 days prior to the workshop/programme) means your place cannot be reallocated and may result in your access to future CHASE training being restricted.

The training is open to: