PSi 15 - Zagreb

As well as holding its 2nd annual meeting, the PSi Performance and Philosophy working group will be presenting 3 panels at the next PSi conference, MISPERFORMANCE: Misfiring, Misfitting, Misreading which will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, June 24 – 28 2009,

The PPWG proposed three panels which aimed to reflect the diverse interests of the PSi Performance and Philosophy working group. Members of the working group were asked to submit proposals that responded to the conference themes, but also demonstrated their concern with the relation between philosophy and performance. From this call, three particular areas of interest arose.


Panel 1: New perspectives on the “failed revolt” of May 68
registers a growing concern among members with the so-called “failure” of May 68 and a desire to re-read both the philosophy and performance from this period in a new spirit of optimism and with an eye to their potential relevance to contemporary conditions. First, Lavery argues against the misreading of May 68 as an “exercise in failed idealism” by turning to the rethinking of political aesthetics by Jacques Ranciere. Then, Cull will suggest that we can reconsider the Living Theatre’s Paradise Now beyond the dominant discourse of “failure” if we attend to it on the level of process rather than content. Drawing from Deleuze, Cull will consider the Living in the light of their engagement with processes of immanence, participation, anti-representation and creation. Third, in a turn towards the contemporary relation to 68 Rokem questions what we might do today with a number of important texts published in 68 including Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge and Marcuse’s An essay on Liberation. And finally, Kear takes up the work of Alain Badiou to propose a fidelity to May 68’s logic of revolt in the contemporary theatre of Needcompany.

Panel 2: Generating rupture/Creating dissensus: The Studio-theatre, Hijikata and protest performance
maintains this interest in failure in a political context. Setting up an exchange between 2 emerging scholars (Syssoyeva, Broinowski) and an established academic (Abrams) the connecting figure of the three papers is an affirmation of rupture or breakdown as creating the conditions for change in the spheres of art and politics. While Kathryn Syssoyeva looks back to the “failed” Studio-theatre established by Stanislavski and Meyerhold via the philosophy of Alain Badiou, and Adam Broinowski to the misperformance that is Hijikata’s Rebellion of the Flesh via Foucault and Deleuze, Joshua Abrams draws from Habermas and Ranciere to address the space of dissensus created by contemporary protest performance.

Panel 3: Philosophies of misperforming bodies
brings together a presentation by a philosopher (Mullarkey), a presentation of practice (Kirkkopelto) and a performative paper somewhere between academia and practice (Watt) in order to address the theme of misperforming bodies. John Mullarkey addresses not only the fear of failure felt in the philosopher’s performing body, but also the fear of success in relation to the paradoxical performance of academic lecturing, which both solicits and is threatened to be undone by consensus. Daniel Watt, in turn, employs the writing of Blanchot and Nancy to ask “if all performance, all bodies, ultimately fail against the overreaching aspirations of our imaginations”. Finally, Esa Kirkkopelto introduces the relation to philosophical questions concerning the essence of humanity of the work of the Finnish group, “Other Spaces” and its concept of “mis-educating” the performing body such that it can “enter into contact with alternate modes of experience, with non-human forms and modes of being, beyond or at the limits of anthropomorphism”.

In this way, each panel has its own thematic rationale, but there is also a rationale for this proposal as a whole: to share with the PSi community the wide range of rigorous work being done by Performance Studies scholars with philosophy – from Deleuze to Habermas, Badiou to Blanchot and Benjamin, Ranciere to Foucault. The intention is that, should the panels be accepted, the individual scholars will conduct an online dialogue about their research and respective papers prior to the conference. In this way, shared interests and related concerns can be identified and explored as part of the process of developing the panel papers, as well as being more fully explored in the discussions at the conference itself.

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