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Wellcome Collection embarks on a late night exploration of body language for a Friday Late Spectacular

1 November 2016


If your body could talk what would it say? Wellcome Collection’s next Friday Late Spectacular, Body Language, 4 November 2016, will be an exciting exploration of the languages of our bodies and what they reveal about our experiences of inhabiting one.

From fat activism to voguing, the entire venue will be given over to a specially curated programme of events that explore the science of self-expression and the politics of identity, highlighting perspectives and voices that are not often heard. Visitors will be able to try their hand at slapstick and sign language, make a zine, and hear from artists, academics and activists, including Dr Charlotte Cooper, Josh Bitelli and Dr Harry Witchel.

Rosie Stanbury, Head of Live Programmes at Wellcome Collection said: “Body Language will dissect every movement, subtlety and signal we make to try to understand the huge variety of languages we communicate in. We’ll be bringing together an exciting range of experts, artists and performers to help us question everything we think we know about what our bodies say about us, before we say a word.”

A talk from fat activist Dr Charlotte Cooper will question what it really means to be healthy, and how this simple term can mask such a complex and fraught area of opinion. A dance performance by Charlotte and her partner Kay Hyatt, further probes the subject of healthy bodies, centring on a sculpture in Wellcome Collection’s Medicine Now Gallery, John Issacs’ I Can’t Help the Way I Feel 2013.

The ground floor of the building will host a mini ball led by voguers from across the vibrant London ballroom scene for an all-encompassing performance complete with DJ and commentator. A dance style that emerged in Harlem in the 1980s, voguing takes body language to the extreme with dramatic movements that celebrate diverse body types and queer identities. A taster session run by pioneering voguer divaD Magnifique will introduce its history as well as providing an opportunity for visitors to throw some shapes.

Visitors can also participate in: a workshop from top fight directors RC Annie exploring the universal language of clowning and slapstick; an immersive BSL class that gives insight into the sophistication and nuance of gesture in sign language, and a zine making session run by artists Collective Creativity that draws on the body of knowledge housed in Wellcome Collection and the Library. 

Throughout the venue visitors will encounter specially commissioned performances and activities designed to probe some of the more subtle ways our bodies talk and interact. A multi-platform performance from contemporary artist Josh Bitelli will use sound, gesture and performance to investigate the relay of information between bodies.

No exploration of body language would be complete without a look at some of the professional uses of non-verbal and alternative forms of communication. Taking politicians as a starting point, physiologist Dr Harry Witchel will examine and deconstruct the behaviour we display when presenting and how it can be used to influence others. Researcher Phoebe Caldwell will talk on the alternative languages she has developed to connect to people who have difficulties with more traditional methods of communication. Phoebe has worked extensively with people with autism, mimicking their movements and sound to tune into their unique languages.

‘Body Language’ is curated by Alice Carey and Elsa Richardson. 

This is a special late-night event with a bar running all night. The majority of activities are drop-in but some talks and workshops require booking. Online booking opens on Friday 28 October at 11.00. The building might be busy and space is limited, so entry is not guaranteed.

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Media Contact

Emily Pritchard
Media Officer, Wellcome Trust
T: +44 (0)207 611 8248
E: e.pritchard@wellcome.ac.uk


Notes to Editors

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