PSi 19 - Stanford

PPWG Panels at Stanford
Panel #1 (Date and Time TBD): Panelists and Abstracts

Dr. Michal Kobialka, University of Minnesota
Title: What are the stakes of representing past events in the present moment?

In this presentation, I would like to explore the idea of presence as materialism of the encounter with the object in a state of unrest—that object, which exposes itself to reveal what dominant cultural formations submerged in it so that it could become the narration readable and teachable to all. Let me paraphrase: how is it possible to think about “presence” against the new materiality of the performance object; or against the non-representational theory linking space and affect. I am interested in developing further the notion of spatial dialectics confronting not what the object could be, but the inadequation between objects and those aspects of objects which reality glosses over in order to assign present intelligibility to them.

This spatial dialectics must not be reduced to a logical and purely formal mental space, already intimated in The Production of Space wherein Henry Lefebvre calls for a reconstruction of the dialectics along spatial lines. This spatial dialectics has little to do with imagining new languages and figurations in physics, bio-science, or an alternate world, contiguous with ours but without any connection or access to it. Instead, spatial dialectics draws attention to contradictions in and of space which can be viewed as examples of social and spatial interstices disclosing other possibilities, differential in character, than those in effect within the system.

Dr. Karoline Gritzner, Aberystwyth University
Title: Thoughts which do not understand themselves: On Adorno’s Dream Protocols

This paper seeks to explore Adorno’s accounts of his dreams from the perspective of his reflections on redemption and messianic time (touched upon in Negative Dialectics and at the end of Minima Moralia) and in the context of his materialist philosophy of history. For Adorno, as for Benjamin, the present is to be understood as an unfolding of the destructive trajectory of the past. As Adorno notes in “Reflections on Class Theory”: “From the most recent form of injustice, a steady light reflects back on history as a whole. Only in this way can theory enable us to use the full weight of history to gain an insight into the present without succumbing in resignation to the burden of the past.” On the one hand, the Jetztzeit (the singular “now-time”) of the dream signifies its freedom and difference from reality, but on the other hand, the tendency of our dreams to form a continuum (enhanced by the similarity of dreams and the repetition of dream motifs) suggests a potential “danger, that we can no longer distinguish them from reality” (Adorno). The reflections offered in this paper suggest that the dreamwork and its resistance to the categorical power of rationality may offer us a fresh insight into Adorno’s critique of the temporality of lived life (“damaged experience”) in late capitalist modernity.

Dr. Gabriella Calchi-Novati, Trinity College Dublin
Title: Is the Future hiding in the Re-awakening of History?

In Le Réveil de l’Histoir (2011), French philosopher Alain Badiou sees the 2011 riots, uprisings and occupy movements as “attempts to reopen History” in order to “subtract themselves […] from the representation of the site where they have occurred – a representation constantly fictionalized by the state.” It is here that for Badiou, what we may refer to as the existing inexistent “is going to challenge the conservative power of the state, guardian of all temporal forms of oppression.” The inexistent that becomes existent, which resides in a temporal tense that is present and yet historically tainted, is but another way of describing 2011, the year of “the revival of radical emancipatory politics all over the world.” Therefore, in an attempt to substitute re-presentation with representation, in which the re is erased from representation to allow history to re-awake, what is missing is always the future. Italian philosopher Franco “Bifo” Berardi seems to directly address such an issue when he claims that when “political thought, practice and imagination loses hold on ‘the future,’ it goes into crisis.” In this paper I will attempt to instigate a dialogue between the above mentioned philosophical inquiries into the contemporary concept of history, by engaging with the Occupy Wall Street movement as a theoretical means to elucidate further that what might still be called “philosophy of history” is increasingly concerned not with that which can be represented, namely the past or “the doing,” but rather with that which can never be present(ed), namely the future, or “the being.”

Panel Chair: Dr. Will Daddario, University of Minnesota, Chair of the Performance and Philosophy Working Group

Panel #2 (Date and Time TBD): Panelists and Abstracts

Giulia Vittori (PhD Candidate), Stanford University
Title: Performing as Gap: Carmelo Bene’s Gesture

My paper proposes the analysis of Lorenzaccio, a philosophical tale on the idea of gesture that Carmelo Bene wrote in 1986. It provides a provocative reflection on the gap existing between the presentness of the act and the attempt history makes of accounting for it. Lorenzaccio, the main character, finds himself in a paradoxical situation: he faces the inability to perform his planned actions, as the expected results occur before the actual move of the body, which should have guided and preceded them. When he plans to destroy some ancient Roman statues, they crash down just an instant before he reaches them. This slight asynchrony, which Lorenzaccio desperately attempts to fill up, proves irresolvable.

By transforming the performing gesture into a gap, Bene reduces the act into a moment of presence that history is unable to grasp. Removing action from the domain of history, he locates in the experience of acting the opportunity of nullifying representation. I argue that Lorenzaccio’s repetitious attempts to run against time give Bene a via negative to create a language that philosophically engages the actor’s very moment of performing gestures; by subtracting it from plot and intention he subtracts it from chronology and emphasizes its ontological and phenomenological foundations. A gap between intention and gesture, awareness and unconsciousness, constitutes the very presence of performing in the moment of the act’s accomplishment. In such a gap dwells the now then paradigm that characterizes the gesture and the reason for history’s failure to detect it.

Clare Foster (PhD candidate), Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University
Title: Reperformance: the “classic” as collusion

The idea that works of art are stable autonomous entities has been effectively challenged in the last century by an increasing privileging of the receiving context. But this move has traditionally been discussed in terms of singular, stable, unitary readers and viewers, and individual acts of reception. This paper repositions the intelligibility of works of art as a function of the public (i.e. mixed and multiple) nature of their messaging. Specifically, it sees the recognisable work (or “classic”) less as a text which travels through time than as a space of opportunity for engagement with the present, i.e. as a meeting point for audiences - implied and embodied, individual and multiple, past and present, preceding as well as following acts of creation. Although the emergence of these ideas today is related to the digital age, this paper argues that they were also prominent in cultures in the past (pre-mass reproduction, pre-printing, pre-codex) which had concepts of art, theatre, dance, music, literature and the public quite different from our modern (post-1880s) categories and the distinctions and values they enshrine: specifically, the performance cultures of classical antiquity, and their reinvention in what Tracey C. Davis calls “the performing century” (19th c. Europe).

Dr. Graham Wolfe, National University of Singapore
Title: Possibilities that “will have been”: Caryl Churchill and Žižekian Historicity

For Slavoj Žižek, historicity involves “the notion of a choice/act that retroactively opens up its own possibility” (Puppet 160). Historicity envisions a peculiar relationship between Now and Then by short-circuiting these two adverbs: “the emergence of a radically New [“Now”] retroactively changes the past [“Then”]—not the actual past, of course (we are not in the realms of science fiction), but past possibilities.” How can theatre and performance enact this kind of Žižekian historicity? I probe this question by bringing Žižek into conversation with Caryl Churchill’s 1976 play Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, revived in 2010 under the direction of Polly Findlay in London.

In her preface to this play—which explores “the last desperate burst of revolutionary feeling” prior to the restoration of England’s monarchy in 1660—Churchill suggests that theatre may reconfigure what has come to be understood as Then. What is at stake, for both Churchill and Žižek, is more than a revelation of suppressed facts and untold narratives. Reigning accounts of Then (“history taught at school”) connect it fluidly with Now by obscuring past possibilities: “We are told of a step forward to today’s democracy but not of a revolution that didn’t happen.” Žižekian historicity—subjecting the relationship between “Now” and “Then” to a dizzying twist—insists that such possibilities “‘will have been’ only through their repetition” (Sublime 141). My paper explores how theatre itself can repeat in this way.

Panel Chair: Dr. Will Daddario, University of Minnesota, Chair of the Performance and Philosophy Working Group

Praxis Session (Date and Time TBD): Performers

Katherine Mezur
Freelance Scholar/Artist, Berkeley, CA

Megan Nicely
Assistant Professor
Performing Arts/Dance
University of San Francisco**

Chair: Will Daddario

In this praxis project, we will experiment with what we call “time actions”—improvisations that challenge philosophy to perform its own time actions.

Our project takes the butoh-inflected contemporary dance work Mother’s Milk (1998), choreographed/performed by Nicely and witnessed by Mezur in 1998 at the San Francisco Butoh Festival, its re-performance by a second dancer in 2006, and our partial memories of these events re-activated in the present, to understand how corporeal time critically challenges notions of pastness and futurity.

Philosophy often resists corporeality, so what can time actions do to philosophy to make it tremble or shift? With this concern in mind, our praxis session will investigate the following questions: How do bodies trigger philosophical inquiry? How is improvisation a vocabulary of time? How is reflection a temporal action? How do we press forward on the past and consider the future as already? Does the intersection of Western and Asian performance philosophy destabilize or focus affective action?

This examination concerns the entanglement of not only Western and Japanese performance forms, but also philosophies of the temporal stemming from these perspectives and practices. Western and Japanese writings differ significantly, even as they acknowledge each other. Each assumes certain patterns of behavior, even as movement and bodies perform processes considered multiple and improvisational. Underlying these philosophies is a politics of performance: We suggest that actual performance experiments challenge the notions of truth from which power arises, thus re-awakening the struggle for new knowledges within the philosophies themselves.

Our session will include three overlapping phases that trouble distinctions between simultaneity and sequentiality. The first involves Nicely and Mezur verbally and physically re-performing a section of the 1998 dance, focusing on the intervals created through repetition, memory, and shifts in time and space as the phrase is looped onto itself. The second phase deploys philosophies of time as interventions into the loop, read by audience participants. Authors include Zeami Motokiyo (Treatises on the Art of Noh, the Kakyô section), Erin Manning, Carrie Nolan, Hijikata Tatsumi, Elizabeth Grosz, Luce Irigaray, and Akira Lippit, each chosen for his or her own particular questioning of time actions, bodies, and movement. The third element involves the impact of different visual and audio technologies on performance philosophy. We will show video clips from two different versions of the dance (1998/2006), have the audience participants narrate present and past actions, and draw on music in improvisations that complicate these layers with simple exercises such as walking backward, movement retrograde, and improvising as a way of moving differently into pasts and futures.




JUNE 26-30, 2013

Now then: when is that, exactly?
Now, then: did anything happen?

“Now then” as an adverbial form opens time as a modality
of manner, not a thing: not a series of points,
nor a line, nor even a circle. The adverbial contradiction
nowthen, both nonsensical and functional,
points to that aspect of performance which vanishes,
but also persists, accumulates, anticipates, truncates,
forecloses, syncopates, pauses, hurries, retards, accelerates,
stops, starts, repeats… in time.

This conference seeks to bring forward the complexity
of temporality in performance by inviting
submissions that address this theme in its many
variations. Further, the question of temporality is inseparable
from question of history. This conference
invites papers and presentations that examine performance
studies’ contributions to existing methodologies
in historiography.

“Now Then” also invites
presentations on our discipline’s institutional history.
The first Performance Studies conference held at
NYU in 1995, “The Future of the Field,” inherently
positioned the field as a forward-looking discipline.
Now, in the future, we hope to create an opportunity
for focused and rigorous reflection on the paradoxical
notion of the past anterior that can be seen as the
paradigmatic situation of performance.

Possible Topics include:
Relationships between materiality and temporality
Ephemerality and documentation
Queer temporalities
Race and time
Bodies in history
Imperial and colonial temporalities
New media/old media and time
Sound, music, tempo
Market futurities: the new, the cutting edge
Immediacy and affect in performance
Time out: holiday, festival
Performing in the pluperfect
Biological and tectonic time
Synchronicity, simultaneity, speed
Temporary spaces
Fast food, slow cooking

Papers, panels, praxis sessions, performances.

Paper & Panel Proposals
300-word abstracts for paper proposals. 800-word
abstracts for panel submissions. Please include
names of all participants, institutions, A/V requests.

Praxis Sessions
Praxis Sessions at PSi19 trace their lineage to PSi15
Zagreb and the creation of the ‘Shift’, a conference
slot designed to encourage interaction between artistic
and theoretical work. In using the word ‘praxis’
PSi19 encourages a focus on embodiment and the
vita active in relation to temporality and performance.
The form of Praxis Sessions is open - these
can be workshops, roundtables, dialogues, performance
lectures, participatory events etc. Each
Praxis session proposal must have a curator or convener.
Initial proposal: 500 word abstract indicating
space, equipment and time requirements; number
of participants; and name(s) and affiliation(s) of the

Performance Proposals
We also want to extend to artists the opportunity
to propose self-contained performances, as well as
durational or installation work as part of the conference.
Explorations that play with times outside
the conference ‘norm’ are welcome, such as a one
minute performance on the stroke of midnight or a
four day durational piece. Initial Proposal: 500-word
description of the piece and technical requirements.
You may send support material on DVD or provide
links to online documentation. The theatre spaces
available for conference performances will necessarily
be stretched in terms of tech support and set up
time, thus low tech / no tech proposals are encouraged.

Please send your inquiries to:
The deadline for proposals is:
Sunday November 18, 2012 at midnight
(Pacific Standard Time).
Send your proposals to:

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License