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The Erotic Reduction: Crossed Flesh in Lea Anderson’s The Featherstonehaughs Draw on the Sketchbooks of Egon Schiele

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Publication date02/2019
Host publicationPerformance Phenomenology: To the Thing Itself
EditorsStuart Grant, Jodie McNeilly, Matthew Wagner
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783319980591
ISBN (Print)9783319980584
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NamePerformance Philosophy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


This chapter presents a case study of The Featherstonehaughs Draw on The Sketchbooks of Egon Schiele, the last work of the all-male dance company The Featherstonehaughs by leading British choreographer Lea Anderson (b. 1959). I consider the way in which Anderson’s choreographic techniques re-frame the art works of the great Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890–1918), including his so-called “pornographic” depictions of himself and young Viennese women. With close attention to different scales of temporal and spatial composition, I enumerate the ways in which Anderson’s rehearsal processes and choreographic techniques, Sandy Powell’s hand-painted costumes and Steve Blake’s brutalist guitar music seem to re-present those depictions with a pitiless detachment. However, with reference to the work of Edmund Husserl (1895–1938), Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) and especially Jean-Luc Marion (b. 1946), I argue that those very techniques reduce (i.e. bracket aside) the “natural attitude” through which the body is otherwise constituted as a measurable and specular object. This reduction creates the possibility of a different kind of corporeal encounter: a crossing of flesh involving a chiasmic intertwining of spectator and dancer that is, as a result, suspended in time, magnetised by the other and, in a special sense, anonymous and automatic.

The essay thus develops an interdisciplinary perspective of the relationship between spectator and viewer that goes beyond present preoccupations of the performer as an objectified body, and also offers phenomenological readings of some of Schiele’s art works, particularly his drawing Schiele Drawing a Nude Model in Front of a Mirror (1910). The essay thus contributes to our understanding of the relationship of contemporary dance and the visual arts as well as to the burgeoning field of performance phenomenology in a recent publication that is part of a book series on performance philosophy.

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