Performance artist authors new anthology of ingenious practice-led projects

  • Dr Mark Edward is to release a new research based book
  • The book features contemporary dance and drag performance

Mesearch and the Performing Body is an innovative book written by Dr Mark Edward. It conveys his research principally of contemporary dance, drag performance, art installations and queer art theory.

The book involves Dr Edwards work from over 20 years throughout his career so far. Originally from Wigan, his novel is also photography and film based. As well as the exploration of sociology and the behaviour of how the dance scene considers older performers, he also focuses on the change in identity and body visibility.

The publication is expressed through the form of ‘mesearch’, a personal study narrating the reflections and emotions from himself and performance. The book stimulates a freedom of expression which creates variability between the researcher, the performer and the writer.

Dr Mark Edward said: “My research, which I like to call ‘mesearch’, is quite unusual because as the author I am of course the theoriser but in my case I am also the theorised.

“The process of writing the book was quite tough as it required total honesty about myself and the things I have achieved in academia and the arts.

“There are sections from my PhD, diary notes from years ago and elements from my work. It’s putting myself out for scrutiny. I just prefer to be honest about myself and I think if you develop a sense of authenticity and autonomy you are on to a winning track.”

His creation Council House Movie Star is a past project incorporated into the book. A film which drag character Gail Force signifies none other than ‘a washed up, old gay’. The production shows what it is like to be aged, queer, poor, drag, isolated and vulnerable.

He continued: “It has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Ultimately, I’ve written this because I think it’s important and I hope it is accessible beyond academia.

“If you don’t put things out for debate then culture and society will not move forwards.”

Mark says that during the two decades of his work, he has seen changes in sexuality, gender and body issues.

He said: “When I first started in the late ‘90s there weren’t readings or conferences about ageing dancers. I remember I was at a party and I said what I was working on and practically everyone left the kitchen. No one wanted to be aligned with that dialogue. That made me laugh, I will never forget it.”

With a PhD in arts and sociological research, Dr Edward also has a chapter in The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Ethics, which is set to be published in March next year. He includes the ethical dilemmas of performance making.

Dr Mark Edward has recently written a chapter about his own mental health, identity and performance making in the book titled The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing.

Mesearch and the Performing Body, published by Palgrave is out in January 2018.

See Marks latest dance production Virus at Edge Hill University, Friday 15th December.