PSi 17 - Utrecht

The Performance & Philosophy working group made 3 separate contributions to the last PSi conference in Utrecht.

1) "[…] in the theatre and through the theatre […]”: performance, philosophy and and the remembrance of the Holocaust (shift)

2) On Memory and Forgetting: Between Philosophy and Performance (2 panels)

3) Enacting pasts & presents in philosophy & performance (panel)


1)"[…] in the theatre and through the theatre […]”: performance, philosophy and and the remembrance of the Holocaust

A work-in-progress sharing of The Tin Ring by Jane Arnfield

With papers from Prof. Alan Read, Prof. Freddie Rokem & Dr. Alison Forsyth

For more information

2) On Memory and Forgetting: Between Philosophy and Performance

Panel 1:
David Fancy on "Bergson, Deleuze, Memory and the Actor"
Kélina Gotman on "Metáphoric Thought: Stage Plays, Bacon, Beans"
Brandon Shaw on "Merleau-Ponty and the Dance of Re-membering"
Liz Tomlin with a paper entitled "Footprints in the Snow"

Panel 2:
Joshua Abrams on "Teaching Children to Remember/Forget: Affective Futurity and Transmitting Trauma’s Missed Encounter"
Gabriella Calchi-Novati on "Performative Memories of ‘Unframed Gestures’"
Karoline Gritzner on "Recollection of/as Erasure: The Work of Memory in Thomas Bernhard’s Theatre"
Alvin Lim with a paper entitled "Sitting, Forgetting: Staging Forgetting, Sitting and Remembering"

3) Enacting pasts & presents in philosophy & performance

Frederik le Roy on "A post-dramatic politics of memory?"
Paul Ziche on "Constructing immediacy"
Laura Cull on "Beyond virtualism: multiplying presents in Deleuze, Kaprow and Clark"
Matthew Goulish with a paper entitled "A Clear Day and No Memories. Thoughts on Kerry Tribes HM"

An open call for proposals for a roundtable
hosted by the PSi Performance & Philosophy working group
PSi #17, 25-29 May 2011, Utrecht

Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred (Benjamin).

In the case of the smallest or of the greatest happiness… it is always the same thing that makes happiness happiness: the ability to forget or, expressed in more scholarly fashion, the capacity to feel unhistorically during its duration (Nietzsche).

Continental philosophy provides us with a great many conceptual resources for contemplating memory and its relation to the past, present and future: Henri Bergson’s concept of ‘involuntary memory’ and its reinvention in Deleuze’s Bergsonism; Jacques Derrida’s emphasis on the differentiating effect of memory’s immanence to perception and his interest in the work of mourning; Hélène Cixous’ ruminations on memory prompted by an excavation of her family photograph albums. Correlatively, the continental tradition also includes Nietzsche’s concept of ‘active forgetting’ and his affirmation of forgetfulness as a necessary means ‘to provide some silence, a “clean slate” for the unconscious, to make place for the new’.

Of course, performance too does its own kind of thinking around memory and forgetting: the images of memory provided by Beckett in Krapp’s Last Tape, Eh Joe or Not I; the emphasis on the politics of cultural memory in Heiner Muller’s work, including his claim to have written Explosion of a Memory for an audience of ghosts; Forced Entertainment’s staging of the relation between memory, loss and repetition in Exquisite Pain and Tim Etchells’ emphasis on the creative possibilities opened by forgetting in works such as in pieces.

The proposed roundtable aims to bring together these two interconnected strands of research into memory as part of the working group’s ongoing investigation into the nature of the relationship between performance and philosophy. We want to look at the points of coincidence, resonance and connection between philosophies and performances of memory, whether this occurs in the use of theatrical metaphors in philosophical discourse (as in Walter Benjamin’s vision of memory as a theatre of the past) or the staging of philosophical thinking, in the performativity of philosophy or the philosophizing of performance practice.

In an effort to emphasise discussion, all participants will be expected to submit final drafts of their papers 3 weeks before the conference. Papers will then be distributed between participants and to the audience, who will be invited to sign up for the session in advance via the PSi website. On the day of the roundtable itself, participants will not read their papers, but will be asked to give a 5 minute summary of their text before inviting comments and responses from other participants and the audience.

Please note that papers are invited from any areas of performance and philosophy and are by no means restricted to addressing the philosophical and theatrical figures cited above. In turn, please note that an acceptance of your proposal to this proposed working group session is not a guarantee of participation in the PSi conference, since we will still have to have our session accepted by the conference organizers. Finally, please do not apply for this session unless you are willing to source your own funds to attend PSi in Utrecht. The working group cannot provide funding.

If you would like to propose a paper for this session, please send a 500 word abstract and bio to the Chair, Laura Cull: by Monday 20th September 2010. Successful applicants will be informed by the end of September.

Camillo 2.0: Technology, Memory, Experience

An initiative of Theatre Studies at Utrecht University and the theatre festival Festival aan de Werf, in cooperation with the Faculty of Theatre at the Utrecht School for the Arts (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht – HKU).

Camillo’s theatre of memory was a wooden construction meant to allow the spectator access to all existing knowledge, as well as providing the possibility to orate about this ‘as if he were Cicero himself’. Though world renowned in the 16th century, Camillo’s theatre was forgotten after the death of its inventor, only to make an impressive comeback in the second half of the 20th century as an initiator of the computer and the World Wide Web (Eco, Bolzoni, Winkier, Davis). Camillo’s theatre is simultaneously a kind of external memory as well as a representation of the way in which memory functions, including the way in which the relation to the spectator is constituted. The construction displays the Ars Memoria: the techné of memory (Yates). This move makes Camillo’s theatre of memory unto an emblem and a historic point of reference which resonates in the subject of this conference, namely: the performing arts as providing a perspective on and embodiment of the relation between technology, memory and experience.

Camillo 2.0: Technology, Memory, Experience combines science, scholarly pursuit and art in a five-day programme consisting of lectures, presentations of current research (both theoretical and practical), performances, debates, workshops, as well as so-called ‘shifts’ (hybrid programme components introduced by participants or initiated by the organisers which pave the way to unconventional types of presentations). The goal is to combine the most productive elements of international theory and to ensure a maximum interaction. In this way, the proposed programme highlights cutting edge research and allows for structured dialogues in different shapes and forms while making space for informal encounters between scholars and artists.

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