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Sarah-Jane Norman, Hokum

Sarah-Jane Norman is an indigenous Australian artist who was raised by spiritualist parents. Her upbringing has led her to a lifelong fascination with the paranormal. Her mother was a spiritual medium and her father had a vast library on Alistair Crowley and taught her to dowse with a pendulum at the age of eight. Her artwork has an explicitly hauntological postcolonial approach to performance, installation and video, and in her work Terra Nullius Norman stitched the Latin word ‘nullius’ to her chest, from the phrase ‘Terra Nullius’ which was used by Europeans to describe Australia as without inhabitants and to justify and legitimize colonization of the continent. Norman draws an analogy to the mysterious inside of both the large continent of Australia by white explorers and the inside of the female body. Norman says in relation to her work Hokum: “… ectoplasm images are particularly interesting, insofar as they represent the female body in a state of (staged) sensational, abject rapture, white muslin flowing from noses and vaginas, completely undercutting the morality of the day.”[1] Norman works with mediumistic ectoplasm in film, video and telecine in Hokum. Historically ectoplasm has been performed and simulated using mesh-like gauze, like gooey, crumpled and interfolded forms that are like unnatural wo/man-made psychic mesh or slime moulds emerging from bodily orifices. Norman’s performance artwork is informed by her interest in the occult, the millieu of xenofeminist sex-positive politics, and indigenous techniques of healing.

 
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realtime tv: sarah-jane norman, unsettling suite from RealTime on Vimeo.

 

[1] Email from Sarah-Jane Norman, January 28, 2014.