Face to Facelessness: Imagined Intimacies and Socially Distant Desires

Fossey, Steve (2022) Face to Facelessness: Imagined Intimacies and Socially Distant Desires. Body, Space & Technology, 1 (21). ISSN 1470-9120

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.16995/bst.8029

Face to Facelessness: Imagined Intimacies and Socially Distant Desires
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Fossey, S. Face to Facelessness - Imagined Intimacies and Socially Distant Desires.pdf - Whole Document
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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper revisits a performance titled Falling in Love Again - and Again which was first performed in 2014 as part of a series of works I created questioning relational intimacy and proximity in public space. During Falling in Love Again - and Again participants were invited to explore public space with the intention of anonymously falling in love with strangers. The details of these encounters were shared with me as the leader of the piece via mobile phone text messages, but never with the subjects of the participants' desires. Understanding the dynamics of intimacy and proximity in 2014 was a very different experience to how I understand them in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing, and two periods of lockdown has drastically influenced how relationality and physically being in the world with others is performed. This paper is concerned both with the intimate and proximate dynamics of relational bodies during that performance as I understood it then, and, as a consequence, how we might understand relational proximity and intimacy now.

Critical points of departure for the paper include art historian Grant Kester's writing on conversational art practices and his framing of dialogic encounters through the use of Jeffrey T. Nealon's Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity (1998). Models of 'dialogical' experience and 'responsibility', as situated by Mikhail Bakhtin and Emmanuel Levinas respectively (Nealon, 1998, cited in Kester, 2004, 118) are used in this article to frame a rethinking of the dynamics and ethics of face to face contact and physical proximity, as bodies in space maintain distance from one another, connected only by our digital devices and our imaginations. The voyeuristic practices of Sophie Calle and Vito Acconci converge with theatre makers Forced Entertainment's 'writing over' of place (Kaye, 2000) to explore imaginary relational connectivity. The writing of geographer Doreen Massey supports this framing through the use of Massey's thoughts on the fictional poetics of social interactions and 'stories so far' (Massey, 2005). Ultimately the paper asks what happens when we are required to imagine being with others in physically distant and imaginary ways with only our mobile devices as depositories for our fictional desires.

Keywords:Desire, Face to Face, Facelessness, Confessional, Love, Intimacy, Proximity, Relational, Social Space
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Fine Arts)
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ID Code:48398
Deposited On:08 Mar 2022 16:16

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