Film/Video Screening

Convulsive States: Liz Magic Laser

22 Nov 2023 6.30-8pm

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG


Join video and performance artist Liz Magic Laser for her first UK screening of Convulsive States

This video, newly commissioned by Pioneer Works, delves into the shaking body as both a symptom and a remedy for psychic distress. It traces the lineage of psychosomatic disorders from historical hysteria to contemporary diagnoses such as 'psychogenic non-epileptic seizures' and spirit possession. It was developed over nine years of intense conversation and friendship with poet Ariana Reines. The video features therapeutic movement exercises and an investigative report uncovering mysteries at Paris’s Salpêtrière Hospital which is regarded as the birthplace of modern neurology and psychology.

Laser’s film connects historical narratives to modern psychotherapy, using a television reportage style of interviews with doctors, historians, and dance therapists. Filmed in collaboration with French journalist Laura Geisswiller, Convulsive States features interviews with doctors, historians and dance therapists. These conversations are interwoven with meditative footage that spirals around the sculptures and images of Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, rendering visible the history of hysteria and its continuing influence demonstrated in recent events, including the outbreaks of TikTok tics spread via social media. As the film progresses, Laser's perspective shifts from objective journalism to her own experience of the psychosomatic condition she set out to study. Laser raises questions about historically derogatory views of hysteria and our current cultural turn towards 'somatic therapies' as the cure for trauma.

This event is part of Liz Magic Laser’s residency ‘Ocular Choreography’ with the Public Programmes team. It is part of the New Perspectives series, supported by the TERRA Foundation for American Art.

18.30 Introduction

18.35 Liz Magic Laser Convulsive States 2023, film, 54 minutes.

19.30 Conversation and Q+A between Sonia Epstein and Liz Magic Laser

20.00 Event End

The film will be captioned and the conversation after the screening will be BSL interpreted.

Convulsive States is commissioned by Pioneer Works and features cinematography by Laura Geisswiller; video editing by Isaac Goes and Michelle Yoon; sound design by Jared Arnold; musical recordings by GOBBY; Colorist: Nic Seago; Subtitle Translator: Charlotte de Mezamat.

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