Ursula Martinez, Show Off

Review in Issue 13-4 | Winter 2001

Known for using nudity in her work, Ursula Martinez strips off again; this time symbolically deconstructing her perceptions of ‘image, identity, reality and performance’. Show Off follows the offbeat A Family Outing in which Martinez laid bare her relationship with her parents. Directed by Mark Whitelaw, Show Off questions Martinez’s role as a performer and the meaning in her work with admirable self-deprecation. A mock after-show discussion is sandwiched in between two emotionally disparate versions of a striptease.

She integrates conjuring tricks with burlesque – a red hankie repeatedly vanishes and re-appears from an item of clothing which is removed with a flourish. In the ‘discussion’ pre-prepared questions are given to the audience in order to encourage an ‘interesting’ response. The answers are revealed through a series of skits: a relaxed Ursula chats about her experiences as a performer; the status game between her and stage manager, ‘Carmen Cuenca’, who later unleashes her own performance ability; an interaction between two versions of Martinez, ‘Ursula the actor’ and ‘just plain Ursula’, using video projection; a game show ‘Spot the Actor’ – a pound for every correct guess.

Martinez’s observations manipulate the audience, to perform or to respond to the performer. This is most apparent in her second striptease; set outside the context of ‘performance’ without humour, another facet of Ursula is shown, vulnerable and pleading for the audience’s attention. Martinez is unnaturally genuine in her representation of what it is to act, self-assured in her management of an audience; this is an insight packed with findings that are self-reflective and open-ended.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-4
p. 24 - 25