My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’ – 我的皮肤是一种暴动:看着Maria Fusco的湿疹!’

Opinion - 09 Aug 2018

My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’

At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the eczema-sufferer and writer

By Holly Pester

You might struggle to predict the tone of a theatrical exploration of a skin condition. Yet for Maria Fusco’s new performance piece, the title ECZEMA! in bold type on punk colours with exclamation, announces itself like a rock musical or obscenity. The mood of the event was drawn by an initial set of short presentations by artists, performers and my favourite kind of charismatic academics. True to Fusco’s bibliographically inventive programming the line-up saw a cringingly brilliant comedy routine full of emollient puns, a leading dermatologist’s own piano composition dedicated to the condition, and scholarly poetics of skin mixed with a cultural history of scratching. The latter section was outdone by some children in the audience giggling knowingly as Sam Hasler read an Alistair Gray story about an epic bout of scab-picking.

The dynamic of professional inquiry into scratching, subverted by the raw experience of an itch, was the manifest tension in the main piece, an extraordinary text performed by actor, Rhodri Meilir, and musician, John Harris on a rambunctious pipe organ. Meilir whose unguarded presence and big Welsh voice – his accent catching on the scratchiest words – was a striking deferral from Fusco’s ambiguously autobiographical text. He read from the script, grazing the pages as he turned them in a theatrics of contact. A strange epidermal animal background track was created from a recording of a 30-second scratch (Fusco scuffing her own eczematic skin with a contact-mic glove) stretched and set to the 30-minute piece. This track accented the eerie Spinozian negotiations of what is ‘me’ and what is environment, and the sci-fi horror of experiencing eczema as something that is ‘working its way out’ than something that is ‘working its way in’.


My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’ - 我的皮肤是一种暴动:看着Maria Fusco的湿疹!’

Organist John Harries performing Maria Fusco’s, ECZEMA!, 2018. Courtesy: National Theatre of Wales, Cardiff; photograph: Dan Green

The scored irritation progressed in paroxysmic rhythms, unleashing the auto-erotics and benignly directed passions of intense itching. But who is speaking in this text? Sometimes the subject position came from the microclimate of wounded skin. At others, the voice spoke as a social subject expressing its experience of eczema to convince of the often hidden, physical distress; ‘I would wrench my skin off if I could … Ratchet deep about my folds and rasp the tender places’.  This scandalous body was spoken variously as if indistinguishable and then distinct from self: ‘I am flammable’, ‘IT is not me’.

This recurring dilemma over whether eczema is alien intruder or a product of self, evolved from an existential stress over the boundaries of ego and skin, compelled the comparison between eczema-sufferer and the figure of a writer. Both sit alone for hours, scoring, scraping and grazing at a persistent, in situ complaint. Scratcher-writers are in a feedback loop of itching skin and elaborating an idea – an image that reaches an intensity as we picture the writer sat ponderously in an office, ‘lightly chewing’ their own scabs.


My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’ - 我的皮肤是一种暴动:看着Maria Fusco的湿疹!’

Rhodri Meilir and organist John Harries performing Maria Fusco’s, ECZEMA!, 2018. Courtesy: National Theatre of Wales, Cardiff; photograph: Dan Green

As an act of writing, the folds of this text really were dug into. Much of the score is alive with experiments in wild, tactile descriptions. Scabs are ‘slubbed monuments’, and embodied skin is a ‘sticky human ball … crusted in crunchy ochre’. The manic appetites to write and to scratch were both posed as drives towards revealing details; it’s only enough when it’s already too much. I was taken by how minute calculations over when, where and how to scratch – ‘The deep SCRATCHING I enjoy on the front of my neck doesn’t work on the back, here I need stubby stabs’ – often revealed small lesions of a story. Such a vignette described the speaker being examined by group of young male junior doctors, ‘nipples shredded’ and ‘burning sternum’. 

Where ECZEMA! excelled was in making an artwork about the ‘flammable’ distraction from work. Eczema is unbearably in the way of calm thoughtfulness. Attention to it as a topic requires a kind of disturbed focus in which it ultimately refuses to be interesting or beautiful, or even fully medicalized. Because it is difficult to keep a thought still these days, without it combusting into an exasperation, this feels apt. Thankfully ECZEMA! is not a polemic on the horrors of the day, rather a study of the body’s miscellany of culturally freighted products and vulgarities that can, given rare attention, be twisted into metaphors or treated with sympathetic meaning.


My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’ - 我的皮肤是一种暴动:看着Maria Fusco的湿疹!’

Rhodri Meilir, organist John Harries and Maria Fusco, performing Maria Fusco’s ECZEMA!, 2018. Courtesy: National Gallery of Wales, Cardiff; photograph: Dan Green

This eccentric and impersonal/personal study of the condition was affecting but joyful. It left me with a realization: the act of scratching eczema’s abrasions is itself a monstrous version of productivity, composed of impulse, consumption, self-detachment, surplus accumulation, where scratching is ultimately a devilish perversion of work and writing. 

Maria Fusco’s ECZEMA! was performed at the BBC Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff on 28 July 2018. An audio recording of Eczema! will be released by Accidental Records this autumn. 

Main image: Atopic dermatitis on the ear. Courtesy: © Professor Raimo Suhonen /  DermNet New Zealand

Holly Pester

Dr. Holly Pester is a poet and writer and lecturer in Poetry and Performance at University of Essex.

Maria Fusco
National Theatre of Wales
Holly Pester

意见- 09八月2018我的皮肤是一个暴动:看Maria Fusco的湿疹!在威尔士国家剧院,一场充满野趣、触觉描写的表演迫使Holly Pester对湿疹患者和作家进行比较,你可能很难预测戏剧演员的腔调。皮肤状况然而,对于Maria Fusco的新表演作品,标题湿疹!在大胆的类型,朋克色彩感叹,宣布自己就像一个摇滚音乐或淫秽。这一事件的气氛是由艺术家、表演者和我最喜欢的一类具有魅力的学者进行的一系列简短介绍。真实的FISCO的书目创造性的编程,阵容看到了一个灿烂灿烂的喜剧例程充满了柔韧双关语,一个领先的皮肤科医生的自己的钢琴作品致力于条件,和学术诗学的皮肤混合了文化历史的抓伤。后面的部分被观众们哄堂大笑,因为Sam Hasler读了一篇关于Alistair Gray史诗般的破坏者的故事。对搔痒的专业调查的动态,被瘙痒的原始经验所颠覆,是主要作品中明显的张力,由演员、Rhodri Meilir和音乐家John Harris在一个乱七八糟的管风琴上表演的非凡文本。梅里尔不守卫的在场和威尔士的大嗓音——他的口音吸引着最潦草的字眼——是从FISCO含糊的自传体文本中明显的推迟。他从剧本中读了一遍,一边翻阅书页,一边把它们变成戏剧性的联系。一个奇怪的表皮动物背景轨迹是从一个30秒的划痕(富斯科用一个接触MIC手套擦伤她自己的湿疹皮肤)被拉伸并设置到30分钟的片段。这条赛道强调了关于“我”和“什么是环境”的怪诞的斯宾诺兹式谈判,以及体验湿疹的科幻恐惧症,这是一种“正在工作的方式”,而不是“正在工作的东西”。EcZeMaaPrimoSoStsNTW2018Y00Web.JPG My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’ - 我的皮肤是一种暴动:看着Maria Fusco的湿疹!’执行器John Harries执行Maria Fusco的湿疹!,2018。礼貌:加的夫威尔士国家剧院;照片:丹·格林:在阵发性的节奏中,得分的刺激进展,释放出强烈的瘙痒和自动的性欲。但是谁在这篇课文中发言?有时,受试者的位置来自受伤皮肤的小气候。在另一些人身上,声音作为一个社会主体来表达湿疹的经验,以说服人们经常隐藏身体上的苦恼;“如果我能……我会把我的皮肤拧下来……在我的皱褶上拉扯棘刺的地方”。可以说是“我是易燃的”,“不是我”。湿疹是外来侵入者还是自我的产物,这是从自我和皮肤边界上的生存压力演变而来的反复的困境,迫使湿疹患者和作家的形象进行了比较。双方都独自坐了几个小时,得分,刮擦和放牧,在一个持续的,原位的投诉。刮痕作家们在一个痒的皮肤的反馈回路中,详细地阐述了一个想法——当我们想象一个作家坐在办公室里笨拙地坐着,“轻轻地咀嚼”他们自己的痂时,一个图像就达到了强度。EZEMAMYPROSPOHSDSNTW2018Y060Web.JPG My Skin is A Riot: Watching Maria Fusco’s ‘ECZEMA!’ - 我的皮肤是一种暴动:看着Maria Fusco的湿疹!’ Rordri MeIIR和风琴演奏家John Harries表演Maria Fusco的湿疹!,2018。礼貌:加的夫威尔士国家剧院;照片:丹·格林作为一种写作行为,这篇文章的褶皱确实被挖掘出来了。大部分的分数是活着的实验与野生,触觉描述。痂是“竹子状的纪念碑”,体现的皮肤是“粘人的球……在脆赭石中结痂”。写作和搔痒的躁狂欲望都是用来揭示细节的驱动力;只有当它已经太多时才足够。我对如何计算何时、何地和如何划痕——“我脖子上的深搔痒在背部不起作用,我需要粗刺”——被发现的故事,经常被曝光。这样一个小插曲描述了一个年轻男性年轻医生的小组,“乳头切碎”和“燃烧胸骨”。擅长的是制作一部关于“易燃”的作品。湿疹是无法忍受的冷静思考的方式。关注它作为一个主题需要一种干扰的焦点,它最终拒绝有趣或美丽,甚至完全医疗化。因为这几天很难保持一种想法,如果不让它燃烧成一种恼怒的话,这感觉就很好。谢天谢地湿疹!不是一天的恐怖论战,而是一个研究身体杂糅的文化自由产品和庸俗,可以给予罕见的关注,被扭曲成隐喻或对待同情的意义。EcZeMaaPrimoSoStsNTW2018Y076Web.JPG WPAP6024602IMG Rordri MeIIR,风琴手John Harries和Maria Fusco,执行Maria Fusco湿疹!,2018。礼貌:加的夫威尔士国家美术馆;照片:丹·格林:这种古怪的、非个人化的个人研究状况令人感动,但很快乐。它让我意识到:刮湿疹的行为本身就是一种巨大的生产力,由冲动、消费、自我分离、过剩积累组成,在这里,抓挠最终是对工作和写作的一种邪恶的反叛。Maria Fusco湿疹!是在英国广播公司Horddiot厅,威尔士千禧中心,加的夫于2018年7月28日举行。录音湿疹!将于今年秋天意外记录。主要影像:耳上特应性皮炎。礼貌:Raimo Suhonen教授/皮埃姆斯教授,新西兰霍利皮斯特博士霍利贝斯特博士是诗人和作家和讲师在诗歌和表演在埃塞克斯大学。威利斯·福斯科国家剧院


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