Theatre of the Self

photo of me reading

photo of diary burning

Project score:

30 diaries (1977-2007)

30 days (not consecutive)

Each day read a diary, save something, burn the rest.

Document with three photos; one photo of diary, one photo reading the diary, one photo of burning diary.  (Project documented on instagram: delpha_hudson)

I am ‘claim[ing] time and rehears[ing] whatever is necessary for [my] own sense of history, community and body’. 

(Catherine Grant in Oxford art Journal 39:3, 2017, p.375)


From the age of 14, I wrote almost a daily diary or journal. Initially firmly entrenched in religious belief, it records my fall from ‘grace’. It also records my experiences, thoughts, and emotions, as they were then. They capture a unique image of what I actually am, instead of what I think I am. Many of the memories I have forgotten or changed, as I write and re-write the story of myself, as we all do, almost daily.

In this performance project I claim the right to produce myself  ‘as an object in the work, (revealing) the practices of self-constitution, recognition and reflection’, (Foucault  [1984:63] quoted in ed Du gay, Evans and Redman, Identity a reader, p.26 ). This practice of self-production illuminates the process of performativity, and the creation and perception of self, a theatre that we are all daily engaged in.

All knowing is recollecting. The shaping of the self is transformed via echo and feedback, resonance and echo, Christine Battersby writes of the female, fluid self, in whose shifting complex identities,

‘self-emerges [in] a relational dynamic between past, present and future’.

( Christine Battersby, Phenomenal woman: feminist metaphyisc and the patterns of identity, p.204)

As the project comes to a close I am writing a book about the process and its theoretical underpinnings.

Some text posted:

Day one:

Monday 10th April (reading 1977) Today I revisited my 14 year old self.

I took what I wanted. I burned the rest.

Reading writings from 2006

How do I get this place before, the not-yet-me to something is a little nearer-yet? My knowledge recorded stored in writing, it is the thing that circumvents and renews memory.

My memories are what I use to construct myself. How little my current memories seem in line with what I have written all along – at the time.

I am now linking my diary writing project with my art work/projects. They must give birth to each other, they cannot go forward, exist without each other.

My work is me. How I survive, and to smile ,and greet another day. How I come to terms. How my experiences of self and more-than-self (motherhood) can be soothed by acceptance of ambivalence in everything; the beauty and strange ugliness that is experience.

Delpha Hudson- about Theatre of the self