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Alisa Heil

BA Performance: Design and Practice Alum
Central Saint Martins
Person Type
Alisa  Heil


Alisa Heil engages local community through her project ‘Veiled’.


“I was spending the day with Jonathan Hallam (Fashion Photographer) in Whitechapel – the area I live in – doing ordinary market shopping, yet, at the same time, an anthropological experiment (caused by environmental and social forces).

I am veiled just like most women that do their shopping in Whitechapel. My veil is made out of black velvet and hair that covers my face.

Why I chose this peculiar appearance is due to a desire for participation and communication within the public sphere of my neighbourhood – using the theatrical as a process of intensification by drawing upon the possibility of making the absurd a form of critique. A critique on the facelessness and anonymity of urban life.

However, it happens I find myself surrounded by woman of different ethnic groups, willing to talk to me about what I was doing. I am explaining, not myself but my action and my craving for interaction while they reveal part of their identities and beliefs.

More than 15 women stand in a circle talking about matters such as religion, beauty, freedom of speech, marriage, womanhood, being an immigrant, territory and so on. What begun as a tense argument, based on my ‘undemocratic’ approach, results in a deeper dialogue.

When Jonathan and I left the market, filled with thoughts, an elderly nun passes by and we ask her to take a photograph of us. She willingly agrees, without asking questions about my strange guise or the purpose of the picture – and without knowing it, she expands the meaning of this whole experience.

What you now see, printed on a veil is not documentation, nor a representation of this precise day but rather an emblematic image/object linked to various subjects – an object that demands life beyond representation in order to question given structures (not least the way we present live-art/action)”.


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