The Two Body Problem

Catherine Ryan


Incubator residency / Bodies of Work commission

The Two Body Problem is an experimental performance lecture that starts from the provocation: what if we had not one, but two bodies? How would this change the decisions we made and the risks we took? Would we just spend time in the ‘good’ body and leave the other one at home? And what is a ‘good’ body, anyway?

First supported through Adhocracy 2022, Vitals has commissioned further development of The Two Body Problem though our Bodies of Work initiative. Contemporary artist, Catherine Ryan, draws on humour, popular culture, musicological reflection, and the subversion of the academic, for this new work that is part of a series of performance lectures about pop music, labour, and the body.

Detouring through queer theory and political philosophy via pop music about the materiality of the body, the work playfully imagines the body as a multiplicity, cared for collectively rather than by individuals alone.

As part of her time with Vitals, Catherine will also present her performance lecture A Perfect Day, a guided listening tour through “pop song schedules” – songs in which the singer lists everything they do in a day. The work uses tunes by artists such as ABBA, Sheena Easton and the Pet Shop Boys to explore how the pressure to be productive determines the rhythm of our existence under contemporary capitalism. The performance includes discussion of themes of regularity, labour and regimentation, a projected presentation of audiovisual pop song samples and numerous low-brow musical interludes.

Creative team – Catherine Ryan

About the artists

Catherine Ryan is an artist, performer, writer and multi-instrumentalist living on Wurundjeri Country (Melbourne). She makes video work, sound work and performance lectures. Her recent pieces examine how the imperative to be productive structures the experience of time under neoliberalism, as well as ways that concepts from musicology can provide fresh insights into our present ecological crisis. Catherine is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Art at RMIT.


A Perfect Day was first presented by APHIDS. This project was supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.