Inextinguishable Fire

Cassils (CANADA/USA)

Sun 08 Nov 2015

National Theatre (Dorfman theatre)
Then Southbank Centre



Inextinguishable Fire, Burn for Portrait 2015
Photo: Heather Cassils with Robin Black

A SPILL COMMISSION / WORLD PREMIERE

SPILL presents two works in conversation: in both a live performance and a film Cassils engages in a treacherous fire stunt

Cassils’ work Inextinguishable Fire speaks to the impossibility of representing certain forms of trauma and violence. How can we enact empathy when our own situation is so removed from the atrocities of torture and war? Using techniques borrowed from Hollywood stunts, Cassils experiences the very real human terror of being lit on fire. Cassils gesture of self-immolation speaks to both the desire for and the impossibility of knowing such horror, even while decisively aiming to approach it.


‘When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you’ll shut your eyes.

You’ll close your eyes to the pictures.

Then you’ll close them to the memory.

And then you’ll close your eyes to the facts.’

– Harun Farocki


Inextinguishable Fire unpacks the often unquestioned “documentarian truth value” associated with mediated images and demands the viewer witnesses the construction of violence.


This performance will be followed by an outdoor film screening at the Southbank Centre.


Cassils is an artist who uses the physical body as sculptural mass with which to rupture societal norms. Forging a series of powerfully trained bodies for different performative and formal purposes; it is with sweat, blood and sinew that they construct a visual critique and discourse around physical and gender ideologies and histories. Drawing on conceptualism, feminism, body art, gay male aesthetics, and Hollywood cinema, Cassils creates a visual language that is at once emotionally striking and conceptually incisive.


  • A SPILL Commission presented by Pacitti Company in partnership with the National Theatre
  • Film element supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and by MU Eindhoven, NL

Visit artist’s website

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