Catherine Sullivan2004

Catherine Sullivan has referred to her work as “an anthropology of theater,” making, as she does, single and multi channel video installations which rest upon the body’s capacity to signify and audience’s ability to read the transmission of expressive performative content. Using the theater as a site of emotional transcendence, and examining theatrical conventions as a means to question the politics of artifice, the presentation of violence, and trauma, Sullivan employs rigorous compositional armature which grounds the work’s compelling beauty. Her animation of problems—failed theatricality, the super theatrical, spectatorial discomfort—reveal Sullivan’s own cultural inheritance (Richard Foreman, Chantal Akerman, Bruce Nauman, Yvonne Rainer, Jean-Luc Goddard…) and manifest her twined political and poetic concerns. Restaging a scene in The Miracle Worker, the 1962 film about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, she unleashes ten Annie’s and ten Helen’s performing multiple theatrical tropes—the hysteric, melancholic, manic, paranoiac—making acting both problematic and visible.
"Generally speaking, my work is concerned with cultural regimentation and assimilation as it relates to the codification of behavior. The performers in my pieces are the true media, and watching them transcend or transform against or through the various restraints imposed by the work is its broader social metaphor."