In A Manner of Speaking: The Subversive Voice in Performative Art


The purpose of my doctoral research is to determine through my creative practice and its corresponding theoretical context an examination and understanding of the performing artists’ voice as, potentially, a subversive agent.


The motivation for this question comes from my process of thinking, making, and showing comedic performance-based art works that utilise my own voice, in a way that deliberately skews meaning, distorting the conventional delivery of contexts and information.


The agency of voice appears to me to have a great deal of ambiguity and nuance throughout its trajectory from conceptualisation to its presentation to an audience. There are multiple and divergent ways art practice and theory has explored this territory. This study considers how the artist/performer finds the means to challenge conventions of orality, language and communication through a performed voice that seeks to subvert meanings and intentions.


Theoretical research on the voice to date broadly exists within an understanding of linguistics, written and spoken; the properties of aural, aestheticised sound; and the object voice as an active mobiliser between sound, speech and meaning. Artists, on the other hand, have often drawn on their own experience/appropriation of voice registers within various contexts of communication and utilise the physicality of the voice as a tool of communication and/or means of expression through these modalities.


Through a series of case studies that examine performance works I have undertaken during the process of research, each in conjunction with a specific work by another artist selected for its thematic coherency or as counterpoint, this study charts a revealing of that process through a series of works that traverse some of the critical territories of the performer’s voice.