Sparkles and Sputum: The Sick Body of Martin O’Brien

Speaker: Dr Gianna Bouchard

5.10 - 6.30pm, Wednesday 3 May
HEL 251, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Living with the chronic disease cystic fibrosis (CF), Martin O’Brien’s live art practice has focused on exploring his condition through durational performances that actively resist the dominant discourses of medicine, which seek to contain, control and cure such bodies.

In staging his personal, embodied specimenhood, away from the clinic and the hospital, and in the performance space instead, O’Brien attempts to reclaim agency over his body and illness.

Queering and aestheticising the medical, including through sexual acts and sado-masochistic elements, he performs a ‘pathological resistance to illness’ (O’Brien, 2012: 91). As such, his work will be used to shed light on an increasingly significant aspect of live art practice in the UK – that of its potential to explore the political and ethical dimensions of illness and disability.

This free event is part of the ALSS Research Seminar Series. For more information contact