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Julia Bauer / Tempting Failure 2018

first performed on July 11, 2018
The Front Room, Croydon, London, UK
performed once in 2018


Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK


AUTOS (Greek self)

FLECTIONS (Latin flectere to bend)

I am curious about how the phenomena of bending sound and light can create fragmented copies of self as other, that of echo and reflection. Can they be thought of as discrete forms of one’s own self, even if they are copies that exist in the world? How do we recognise our own self? Do we identify the self only through the eyes of others or can we recognise the self from our own perceptions? Is the self just a collection of fragmented identities, thoughts and forms?

In response to these questions, I delved into a series of repeating and looped gestures reacting to recorded voice, surface reflections in glass, and the intimate action of kissing as a means of exploring the utterances, gaze, and caress of self to self. Were these gestures asserting self-love to myself? Or were they coming from a place of self-doubt? Referencing the allegorical framework of the myth of Narcissus and Echo, the performance further unpacked my observations of being on the autistic spectrum, explored my queerness in relation to sexuality and gender, and investigated the influence of performance art as a method of personal processing.

Wearing a silver sequin dress, I (the performing/present tense self) approached a suspended mirror and applied lipstick to my lips and kissed the surface as a recording played in the background; the recording is of my voice (the recorded/past tense self), talking about Autos, autism, being diagnosed as autistic, my queerness, the fragmented selves in the performance, and of Narcissus and Echo. Depending on the light and my position, there is the potential for a third self to be seen in the mirror (the reflected self). Walking back and forth from the mirror and kissing it many times, I repeatedly applied lipstick to my lips and then used the lipstick to mark my body into segments (neck, shoulders, chest, etc.), sometimes having to lift my dress and bare my body. When the recording gets to Narcissus and Echo, I picked up the mirror, held it over my shoulder as I spun around until I placed it on the floor. I then lay next to it, took off my dress and kissed it some more.