The Body Ophelia Installation

Artistic Team


Writer Catherine Fargher
Director Nikki Heywood
Performers Danielle Antaki, Katia Molino & Jenny Leong
Sound Jane Ulman
Video Sam James
Technical support Russell Emerson
New Media Consult Sarah Waterson
Dramaturg Laura Ginters
Thanks Ian Maxwell, Paul Dwyer & Laura Ginters (USyd CPS) 
Thanks Sue Goldfish (UNSW School of Performance and Dance)

The Body Ophelia explores the uncharted territory of one of Shakepeares’ most enigmatic characters, mapping the psyche and explorations of Ophelia off the stage, the time and space between her silence and her madness. The piece also explores the case studies of Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer from their landmark 'Cases in Hysteria', published in 1893 and seen as crucial in the understanding of the subconscious in the 20th century.

The Body Ophelia attempts to respond to Luce Iriguary, Helene Cixcious, Monique Wittig and Melanie Klein's call for the exploration of the female psyche as a means of bringing subjectivity to the Patriarchy. Ophelia can write her own body, and explore nature, erotica and body memory as powerful healing forces. Finally the piece explores contemporary body/mind displacement, including anorexia and bulimia, especially where it related to Lady Diana Spencer, and the role the popular media played in this depiction.

This script is based on a new media installation performance incorporating sound, video and surveillance monitors. This development explored notions of ‘performing’ the hysteric, as well as the absent body of Ophelia, issues of surveillance and the concept of an empty space to signify Ophelia, a space projected onto and filled with a number of performative and theoretical notions (including romanticism, grunge, sexuality and abuse narratives). 

The Body Ophelia installation took place at the Rex Cramphorn Studio of the University of Sydney Centre for Performance Studies in 2003. It was developed with the assistance of a grant from the New Media Fund of the Australia Council for the Arts, as well as support from the Centre of Performance Studies, USyd.

The performers and artists involved in the development included Meme Thorne, Danielle Antaki, Katia Molino and Jenny Leong with director Nikki Heywood. The input of New Media artists Sarah Waterson, Sam James, Jane Ulman and Russell Emerson lead to a group decision that the work would become a site specific installation based piece, with a strong performative component, developed for performance in the studios and theatre at the Performance Space in Redfern.