Driftwood Press, 2022.
Writer & performance artist Niki Tulk's O explores the aftermath of sexual assault, unearthing myths, folklore, and profound truths about our collective history of violence, womanhood, and justice.
“With rhythms and nods to Shakespeare and the tradition of storytelling and fable—and yet entirely alive and contemporary, entirely her own—Niki Tulk’s O is a book that readers will consume breathlessly in one sitting, and then again and again. This is an urgent book, capturing what it means to experience, withstand, and witness sexual violence, and how survivors must rebuild their worlds and reinvent the language to do so. Tulk’s O does just that work; it is a beautiful book about our darkest human experiences.”
—Lynn Melnick, author of Refusenik
“The deeper I waded into Niki Tulk’s O, the more I awoke. These poems throb in the shadow of poets like Anne Sexton, Muriel Rukeyser, and take up the challenge of philosopher Hélène Cixous, whose feminist writings urged women to ‘write her self.’ As Whitman responded to Emerson’s call for the great American poet, so Tulk answers Cixous’ vision—and oh girl, does Tulk succeed. These poems grow from personal and literary history and breathe themselves into being on the page. They ‘crashjangle’ us through the veil of patriarchy which, as Tulk writes, gendered violence is part of the fabric. Tulk is an interdisciplinary artist who sees the world and language with clarity and vision and delivers a song we have all been hearing in our heads but have never until this point been able to name. O is an ambitious, imaginative, mind-bending, heart-breaking, and world-creating collection that establishes Tulk as an original voice in feminist literature. I cannot wait to see what she does next.”
—Michelle Bonczek Evory, author of The Ghosts of Lost Animals
This book offers a matrixial, feminist-centered analysis of trauma and performance, through examining the work of three artists: Ann Hamilton, Renée Green, and Cecilia Vicuña.
Each artist engages in a multi-media, or “combination” performance practice; this includes the use of site, embodied performance, material elements, film, and writing. Each case study involves traumatic content, including the legacy of slavery, child sexual abuse and environmental degradation; each artist constructs an aesthetic milieu that invites rather than immerses—this allows an audience to have agency, as well as multiple pathways into their engagement with the art. The author Niki Tulk suggests that these works facilitate an audience-performance relationship based on the concept of ethical witnessing/wit(h)nessing, in which viewers are not positioned as voyeurs, nor made to risk re-traumatization by being forced to view traumatic events re-played on stage. This approach also allows agency to the art itself, in that an ethical space is created where the art is not objectified or looked at—but joined with. Foundational to this investigation are the writings of Bracha L. Ettinger, Jill Bennett and Diana Taylor—particularly Ettinger’s concepts of the matrixial, carriance and border-linking. These artists and scholars present a capacity to expand and articulate answers to questions regarding how to make performance that remains compelling and truthful to the trauma experience, but not re-traumatizing.
This study will be of great interest to students and scholars of performance studies, art history, visual arts, feminist studies, theatre, film, performance art, postcolonialism, rhetoric and writing.
Small House Press, 2013.
Tomas, a cellist and dreamer, denies the devastating changes happening in 1930's Germany-until he is drafted into Hitler's Wehrmacht. Many years later, having emigrated to Australia, he raises his granddaughter Lara to love music and birds. He also chooses to hide from her a terrible secret. When her beloved Opa dies, 22 year-old Lara receives a shadow box of mysterious ornaments that force her to confront his past. Seeking to understand his years of silence, and to find a way through her own grief, she travels to Germany-the objects her only guide. Shadows & Wings is a novel of cyclic journeys between hemispheres, the connections between ourselves and those we can never know, and the haunting power of art, love and dreams.