performance creates its own concepts!
6M1L will enable a stage of my Ph.D., a philosophical investigation of how contemporary performance creates its own concepts, explicitly drawing on the analysis of the practice of some choreographers participating in 6M1L. It is part of a 6 year long project, the doctoral thesis I began at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Middlesex University in London, in autumn 2006, titled: Performance after Deleuze: Creating ‘Performative Concepts’ in Contemporary Dance in Europe.
Making, performing, presenting and receiving performance involves processes of expression and construction in which performance today is becoming less an act than an actualization of the virtual: an event of sensation and thought. What does it mean to experience a performance which “forces thought”?
How do we construct a working situation which arises ideas changing them into problems? Are our concepts – in the technical, linguistic, critical or ontological terms we use – products of “feigning”, of a peculiar kind of “pretending to know” in order to continue to imagine in the not-knowing of the experiment?
And who is in the position to feign here, the performer and maker or their audience? Is performance capable of a transformative process, a passage from passions to active affects and actions in which audience is individuated into spectators beyond personal individuality? etc.
These questions frame the research in which I will explore the common notions of the contemporary performance practices – sometimes so overdetermined and yet technical terms like “material” and “procedure” and other times the concepts that haven’t been deployed in performance theory so far and that I introduce or invent here, such as “problem-concept”, “event-concept”, “active affect”, “feigning”, “by-passing”, etc.
Six performances constitute the main material of this research: 50/50 (2004) by Mette Ingvartsen, Untitled (2005) and Self-Unfinished (1998) by Xavier Le Roy, héâtre-élévision (2003) by Boris Charmatz, Weak Dance Strong Questions (2001) by Jonathan Burrows and Jan Ritsema and Powered by Emotion (2004) by Mårten Spångberg.
During 6M1L I will also study a selection of texts resourcing my Ph.D. by Gilles Deleuze (Spinoza et le problème de l’expression, Différence et Répétition, Logique du Sens, Cinéma I. Image-Mouvement et Cinéma II. Image-Temps), William James (Essays in Radical Empiricism, 1912), Alfred North Whitehead (Process and Reality, 1929). These texts will share in the reading sessions on Saturdays with other participants of 6M1L and ex.e.r.ce and I will regularly “report” on the “performative concepts” I am currently writing about in lectures for the same group.
The research work with the choreographers at 6M1L will be presented in the format of “informed conversations”, a series of public talks with Jonathan Burrows, Boris Charmatz, Mette Ingvartsen, and Xavier Le Roy, where each one of these choreographers and I analyze his/her performance “frame-by-frame”, venturing to think outloud before a theater audience. These events as well as the non-public interviews will be documented in video in collaboration with Ingvartsen’s project at 6M1L.