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a different kind of biography

I was really struck by Tamson Pietsch’s blog post on rethinking and rewriting an academic biography.1

Tamson writes, my academic bio says very little about me. Although it obliquely speaks to some episodes in my life that were hugely important to me”. And then:

The problem is, I’m just not sure that apparently objective and disembodied expertise is what our world needs any more (if it ever did), and not least because there is no such thing as objective and disembodied knowledge free from social and economic relations in the first place.

Following Tamson – who was following Bruno Latour — I thought I’d have a go at writing a biography that reflects my hopes, my past and my curiosity:

Simon Ellis is an artist working with practices of choreography, filmmaking and dance. He was born in the Wairarapa in Aotearoa/New Zealand, but now lives in London. He is a Pākehā — a white person of European descent – and his experiences growing up in a politicised family environment nourished his curiosity about inequality, consumerism and digital technologies. These, in turn, underpin much of what his practice is about, and how it is conducted. He also thinks a lot about the ways humans might value things that are not easily commodified, and likes to imagine a world filled with people who are sensitive to their own bodies, and the bodies of others.2


  1. I found Tamson’s post when it was reposted on the Research Whisperer.

  2. Here’s a more conventional one from earlier this autumn: Simon Ellis is a dance artist. He is from New Zealand but now lives in London, and is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University. His recent choreographies are Between Faces’ (2018), Full Responsibility’ (2019), and 5.2 (self) Portraits’ (2019). Simon has worked with Colin Poole as Colin, Simon and I”, and together their work explores privilege, racism and friendship. He is also interested in the value and limits of research for artists working in and outside of the academy, and in the ways in which screens are changing dance and choreographic practices, ideas and understandings. www.skellis.net

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