project image
Jorge Serra

first performed on September 07, 2020
The Joinery
performed five times in 2020



Gubbi Gubbi Country (Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia)


“An Act of Intimacy” was a one-on-one participatory performance exploring the politics of encounter. In a time where we are so practiced in our solitude and so practiced at our distance, what does it mean to be intimate?

Covid undeniably dispels the myth of the sovereignty of the self—our interconnection is increasingly beyond doubt—and yet our survival also relies on isolation. Mirroring this paradox of simultaneous radical intimacy and radical alienation, the work was an invitation to reimagine the porous divide between connection and separation.

Before meeting one another, participants were given an audio-scape that meditated on the nature of intimacy in all its elusiveness and all its forms. Its purpose was to prime participants towards a state where they could be vulnerable, take risks, have an authentic exploration, and ultimately to propose an act of intimacy for us to undertake together.

The participant and I entered from different doors at the same time. The rationale was that it would soften and equalise the power dynamic between us. An unresolved aspect of the work was the intention towards creating a “neutral’’ room so that I wasn’t pre-determining the tone of the encounters and to make it a safe space as much as possible. The problematics, of course, lie in the impossibility of “neutrality” and my blindspots as a cis queer woman that inhibit this. Simultaneously, intimacy relies on the personal. I’m the artist providing an exchange, a type of emotional labour which has historical precedent, but the work relies on my personhood and not my commodification. So the balance between the personal and the parameters of being in service to others was in a constant state of oscillation.

We both wore head-to-toe transparent plastic suits. Covid made the suits a practical necessity but they came to signify another necessity. That, in fact, intimacy relies on separation. The suits created a stronger impulse towards meeting one another as they offered the safety of a stable point of division. This coexistence—as opposed to collapsing into one another or conversely a repulsion away—is a transformative phenomenon.

The suits were a little complicated to navigate but, unexpectedly, created striking moments of “How do I do this?” which supported the tone of the work. Intimacy… but how? Sometimes art experiences give participants everything. Not doing this helped to build a culture of accountability and foregrounded the mutuality of the work.