ROMA: Why do you keep looking and expecting me to disappear at the same time?

Please note that this work contains performed violence, grief and wrestling, including strangulation, headlocks, impact and force being applied to bodies.

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Why do you keep looking and expecting me to disappear at the same time?

[Vertical format video, 5 minutes duration]

Performers: Alicia Fabrizi, Zoë Boyd and Lex Karpathios

Wrestling Consultant: Hannah Wilk 

Videography: Matt Rogers 

CN: performed violence, grief and wrestling, including strangulation, headlocks, impact and force being applied to bodies. 

one is undone, in the face of the other, by the touch, by the scent, by the feel, by the prospect of the touch, by the memory of the feel.[1] 

Trans people are subject to an evolving hostile environment which routinely starves us of sustenance, frequently legislates against us and attempts to punish and regulate our intellectual and erotic lives. There are few opportunities to feel outside of these restrictive conditions. 

This new work, why do you keep looking and expecting me to disappear at the same time? emerges from a robust structure of support. Led by conversations with artists who centre care practices, guided wrestling and overacting workshop sessions, we have refused to allow an institution to platform trans trauma without first being willing to commit to working towards the material conditions which contribute towards trans joy. Throughout this project, the participants have worked to recognise transition expenses as an access cost.

Grief is erotic[2], presenting us with an intensity of feeling and physicality. These workshops and subsequent video work have been a place to give time to trans grief. To pause and pay attention to it. To put our hands on each other’s bodies and move through slow waves of remembering. To develop techniques for trans people to experience the physical resistance of bodies meeting, the resistance of muscles working and a resistance against the social apparatus which seeks to deny us access to knowledge which will allow new possibilities for our bodies. 

The video work produces what Fred Moten and Stefano Harney refer to as Hapticality, not just the physical act of touching but a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. [3] Following on from Chantel Faust’s research, the haptic is being considered as a build-up of tension. An arousal. A call to touch. An outburst of emotion. Not in opposition to looking, but as pushing the limits of what is possible when looking. [4] The intense affective encounters witnessed in this work provide a chance to examine how personal narratives around gender uphold and maintain cis-heteronormativity and consequently, transphobic violence.


[1]BUTLER, J. (2020). Precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. Brooklyn, N.Y., Verso Books

[2]LORDE, A. (1978). Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power. Brooklyn, N.Y., Out & Out Books.

[3]HARNEY, S. & MOTEN, F. (2013). The undercommons: fugitive planning and black study. Wivenhoe, Minor Compositions.

[4]FAUST, C. (2016). Haptic Aesthetics. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 March 2022].

Artist ROMA (fka Ro Hardaker) improvises new worlds and modes of survival at the blur between discursive, sonic, visual, movement and embodied practices. Inherently collaborative her works develop new frameworks for queer gestures, touch and relationality. By addressing the manners in which specific technological, social and material conditions shape, restrict and organise access, she enacts instances in which language, intimacy and violence are extracted, then redistributed as intense affective encounters.

Her works have been presented in galleries, festivals, theatres and online as texts, performances, videos and vocalisations. Sharing and research partners include The Tetley (UK), SPILL Festival of Performance (UK), AXISWEB (UK), Temple Bar Gallery (RI), The Leeds Playhouse (UK), The Live Art Development Agency (UK), Tate Modern (UK), The Centre for Live Art Yorkshire (UK), Queer City Cinema and Performatorium (CA), Uppsala Konst Museum (SE), PAGE: Assembly (FR), Yonder Gallery (UK) and ] Performance s p a c e [ (UK).

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Discover the other PANIC! bursary artists

This work is presented as part of the PANIC! (Promoting an Artists’ Network in the Crisis) series of bursaries.

Earlier this year, PANIC! awarded a group of artists in Leeds City Region £5,000 and £1,000 bursaries to support the making of a new contemporary visual artwork or project. The bursaries offered space to create a voice and help us think through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions we face today.

You can find the work of artists Edd Carr, Charlotte Cullen, Tyvin Haque, Nikta Mohammadi, Lottie Sadd, and Mathew Wayne Parkin here.