rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance
Trashing Performance

30 September 2010

Introducing the dialogue

Author: Joe Kelleher

 

   Where, after all, should we look for the idea or meaning or efficacy of a performance to be realized? Where should we place ourselves so as to take the measure of that realisation? How does an action begin? What sort of promise does a beginning lay down, and for whom? And how are such promises betrayed?

   Over the past months I have been exploring questions of performance and promise with two friends in scholarship both currently working in Italy, curator Silvia Bottiroli and writer Giulia Palladini. Our investigations have focused on the function and structure of a promise, how it shapes the relation between idea and act, how it seduces us into ‘being with others’, and how it leaves us standing with the survival of images, beginning again, re-imagining the theatre of the public realm.

   “… Last time we met we talked about recognition and collaboration. About how, in a particular performance culture, the recognition and appropriation of images may effect a translation from one value system to another. Or about how a ‘scene’, a group or a generation, might recognize itself and its ways of working together. And about ‘self-accomplishing’ ways of working together, actions with no other end, that leave no other trace than their own enactment. And about the promise that a performance makes to its spectators, about the ways it betrays that promise, and how originality is generated out of such betrayals. I remember we talked about practices of making and doing that get where they need to go by going ‘off road’. And about how the places where collaborators, friends, participants, actors and spectators most effectively meet and work together are not always the spaces we thought were ‘given’ to us to work in. We go off road. We circulate in but also outside of institutions. We communicate with each other – we dialogue – in all sorts of odd spaces, affective spaces we might call them, which we produce – cannot help but produce – alongside and apart from the actual places where our exchanges appear to happen…”

   If the only miracle that humankind is capable of is action as such, the miraculous aspects of action become apparent in forgiveness and promise.

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