Spoon Fed No. 4
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Attitudes Passionelles :: Dominique Fester

Describe Your Project
I am currently exploring the subject of the medical treatment of ‘hysterics’ during the 18th Century in the UK and Paris. Under the title “Attitudes Passionelles”. Currently my research centres on the work of Charcot and his famous hospital the Salpetrierre in Paris. Charcot’s work at the hospital was also one of the first medical studies to make use of photography in documenting the treatment of patients including the ’12 Hysterical Positions’ that he identified as patients typically adopting. I am seeking to question the treatment and photography of the female patients, in particular the role of the ‘male gaze’ , at work in the documenting process and also in the treatment process. This being the clinical masturbation of patients to ‘paroxysm’ (orgasm) either using hands or medical dildos. This is quite shocking today but also must have been horrific for the women subjected to this humiliating treatment. I am not especially interested in purely looking at the patients as victims, however, but am hoping, through using the photographs of them as the central point to focus on their identity as real people.

(I'm the dark haired one!) This is a link to some recent R&D on this project using improvised movement. (Stage two will be choreographed) https://vimeo.com/48543073.

I am currently exploring this subject matter through dance/movement, and characterisation, and film concentrating on the ’12 Hysterical Positions’.

How would you use the money, bearing in mind the amount can vary greatly?
Any funding received would go firstly towards paying the expenses of a filmmaker I am currently working with to develop a dance film which could be shown in the space alongside a performed movement piece. It would also be used to create a zoetrope which is made up to show images of hysterics adopting the 12 hysterical positions. Also needing exploration is how exactly the zoetrope could be linked up to a camera in order that the moving images be projected onto a screen and in effect “surround” the audience. The funding would be used to buy any equipment needed to this.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?
I am in the early stages of researching and developing this subject. In the long term my aim is to work with at least two other female performers who will work with the choreography which I am currently developing – and to develop the characters of the Victorian Doctors (as glimpsed at the end of the ‘Hysteria’ clip enclosed.)

At the moment I am funding the project myself. I happily have film maker on board with me, who is willingly giving me their time and energy filming and editing the R&D process. Receiving funding would allow me to take the work to the next level and at least cover expenses for my filmmaker in making the new improved dance/movement film and secondly the technical costs of making a zoetrope to be used in the performance.