Video, 2015

Maurice Kelliher (UK)

20.11.15 – 21.02.16


'Hysteria — as a disease, and later, a set of symptoms — was characterised by unusual physical behaviours believed to be brought on by trauma or a disorder of the nervous system. The misdiagnosis of “hysteria” eventually slowed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of two major factors: psychoanalysis and World War I. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis had its origins in the study of hysteria: Freud was able to explain that the physical manifestations of hysteria were not a result of nerves or disorders in the physical body. Instead, symptoms were brought on by mental trauma. Freud was among the first to assert that hysteria happens in the mind.' — From the Wellcome Collection.

Projected behind and onto the body of the dancer in this video is official military/medical film from 1917, filmed at two English hospitals, which documents “war neurosis” — a form of “hysteria” thought particular to soldiers returning from the Great War. Although this video installation explores trauma in the wider sense, and is not specifically about warfare, these images of soldiers from 1917 were a vital starting point as they are a graphic document of the visible manifestations of trauma. In showing us what psychological trauma ‘feels’ like: the 1917 footage is a visceral, moving record of the disturbing ‘dance’ of distress. These ‘disturbed’ men from 1917 — who appear like ghostly, attendant performers in this piece — serve as metaphors for the wider human experience of the traumatic.

This video installation explores the suffering mind expressed through “the screaming body”. It considers the invisibility of psychological pain — and what emerges when anguish ‘bleeds’ out in physical behaviour, and the limits of language to fully express experience. The installation is projected at night, during gallery out-of-hours, when dark visions take hold. And repeat.

Director/Choreographer/Editor | Maurice Kelliher
Performer | Daniel Whiley


London-born Maurice Kelliher is a performance-maker/performer whose own work integrates dance/theatre/video/and documentary. In addition to a background in theatre/performing, he studied as a dancer and choreographer at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London. In 2012 he was mentored by Kirsten Dehlholm, the award winning artistic director of Danish international performance laboratory, Hotel Pro Forma. Maurice has been programmed and commissioned for exhibitions, festivals, and events including: the Laban Theatre in London; Dublin Fringe Festival; Project Brand New in Dublin; the Festival of Curiosity in Dublin; and the Live Collision International Festival. In 2011, he was nominated for the Spirit of the Fringe Commissioning Award at Dublin Fringe Festival. Maurice is the recipient of an Arts Council dance bursary; and his creative practice has been supported by Dublin City Council/The LAB; Galway City Arts Office; Fringe Lab; Dance Ireland; Science Gallery Dublin; Broadcasting Authority Ireland; and the Mary Raftery Fund. He is currently based in Dublin.