Isabel Lewis
Unambitious Stripper

© Isabel Lewis, Inner Strip (2014)
Intensive 3, 3.8.+4.8.2024
Arsenal C+

In this workshop, Isabel shares ideas that inform her performance practice with a specific focus on the performative encounter with another. Isabel will introduce the notion of ‘erotic sociability’, as developed by feminist sociologist Roslyn Bologh, as a form of interhuman sociality and guide a conversation about this as an alternative to the relational modes of competition, conflict and coercion that tend to dominate relations in a consumer society. This workshop will, then, focus on the tuning and heightening of the senses in order to facilitate a state of hyper-presence that will be the aid towards generative and affective forms of being and moving together.

The figure of the unambitious stripper serves as a metaphor guiding the group to connect with their inner worlds in order to become more radically receptive to our outer worlds. ‘Unambitiousness’ is key to the notion of the unambitious stripper. In this scenario, the outward-oriented gaze of the stripper, which usually aims to engage and captivate the client for monetary gain, is turned inward. The gaze here, rather than static or stable, moves through a number of modes in a dramaturgy guided by Isabel’s voice and sound.

These exercises for the eyes and other senses are a preparation for quite literally seeing and doing differently. Rather than stripping off their clothes, participants will use their imaginations to turn their attention inward, toward the surface of their own skin and imagine playfully peeling away or adding on layers of social construct and identity. The unambitious stripper moves first as a gift for oneself and then for others. This dance becomes the mediator of relations between the human and material presences they share space with. What emerges is a dual process of internal and external change, a cycle of becoming and undoing. This occurs in relation to another entity – human or otherwise – and involves fluctuating between being an object of interest and an interested subject.

Isabel Lewis
© Jason Akira Somma