Obsession and Sensuality

Tamar Nissim

In the years 2006-2010 I enacted a series of ritual performances, which were documented in video. All of these acts focus on the link between obsessive compulsions to sensuality. They deal with pain, abjectness and an ambivalent relation towards mature feminine sensuality. The performances express both anxiety and attraction toward that sensuality, which is examined through the prism of everyday activities. Slightly displaced, these activities lose their purposive nature and expose the nonfunctional, indulging and excessive aspects of everyday activity.

In his Obsessive Actions and Religious Rituals Freud writes: "Neurotic ceremonials consist in making small adjustments to particular everyday actions, small additions or restrictions or arrangements, which have always to be carried out in the same, or in a methodically varied, manner."[1] Freud compares these secretive obsessive rituals to the tale of the mermaid Mélusine, who forbade her husband from ever entering her chambers on Sunday. The latter disobeyed her in his curiosity, surprised her in her bathing and discovered her mermaid's tail; appalled, he expelled her from his castle. Medieval paintings depict the curious count piping through a keyhole at a bathing woman, invading her privacy and uncovering her secret while she bathes and indulges in her uncovered body.

Like an eye through a keyhole, the video camera follows the most intimate and private activities, uncovering my fascination as well as my repulsion from the sensuality they awaken.     

Tamar Nissim, presentation (2.62 MB)   

[1] Sigmund Freud. Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume IX. New York: W. W. Norton: 1976. pp. 129-130.



Tamar Nissim, Lives and creates in Tel-Aviv. She has a B.Des with Honors from Shenkar College, and is currently studying for an M.Ed in Art Education at the Graduate Art Program in Hamidrasha Beit Berl. She is also a graduate of the annual workshop in The Performance Art Platform. Since 2006 she exhibits her video art, video performance and performance, and has held her own exhibition "after the pain" in 2010.

On the Sensual in Art, October 2011