Economies and Objects of Performance, If I Can’t Dance

If I Can’t Dance, NL, commissioned me to put together a reading group responsive to their program ‘Edition V – Appropriation and Dedication’ (2013–2014) in the lead up to Performance Days, a seven-day festival dedicated to performance that takes place from 27 November–3 December, including four new artist commissions by Gerry Bibby, Sara van der Heide, Snejanka Mihaylova and Emily Roysdon, and four Performance in Residence research projects by Gregg Bordowitz, Jacob Korczynski, Sven Lütticken and Grant Watson, plus a talk by moi. If you would like to attend the final reading groups please get in touch. Tickets to the Days also now selling.

Economies and Objects of Performance The rise of interest in poetry in contemporary art is part of a larger re-investment in performance, liveness and collectivity projects that take specific interest in ‘readerly’ practices and ‘figural’ experiments, including with political and aesthetic autonomy in general. It is no coincidence that the same period has seen the rise and proliferation of the “reading group”, as a clear desired FORM of response to unfolding political and economic crises (including, but not limited to the Netherlands’ cultural cuts). In such desired form, reading together is a tool for occupying the publicness of visual and performance art cultures’ “work”, for hinging upon the linguistic, differently, and for re-organizing fine-grained responses to existing material archives and resources in changed conditions.

The figural according to David Rodowick (drawing on Lyotard) is what becomes of art, when freed from the opposition of word and image… it is [also] a social theory that speaks of the conjunction and art and life in the commodity, and it acknowledges power as a mode of unlocking the figure as a historical image or social hieroglyph wherein the spatial and temporal parameters of contemporary collective life can be read as they are reorganized by the new images and new communications technologies (2001, 1). In recent film theory, the figure stands for, “the force . . . of everything that remains to be constituted” in a character, thing, social relation or idea (Martin, 2012). Material and readerly aspects of figural practices enact the political desire to recalibrate sociality, and remediate the affects and informatics of lost/unrealized historical projects. In art-historical terms, poetry practice and collective reading takes up especially with the phonic aspect of language that has been downplayed in conceptual art’s simplistic reception of the Grammatology. It is in this resuscitated oral image of language that we can understand even singular, virtuoso practices of poetic labour and performative, redactive ‘live writing’ as practices that work away at the aesthetic with collective interesse.

This focussed reading group, itself a commissioned response and supplement to If I Can’t Dance’s current range of performance and research commissions – many of which respond to or operate within the textual/poetic – is open to any participants interested in coming to terms with not just the context but the material intentionality and tensions informing performance production decision-making, commissioning, and criticism. It gives special attention to technocultural and economic transformations of the figural demands of artisthood, in a culture of generalized performance imperatives, with the aim of exposing this expanded aesthetic regime to artistic subjectivization and conceptual traction.

week 1. Introduction: Figural aspects of Contemporary Performance

D N Rodowick, ‘Chapter 1: Presenting the Figural’ in Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy After the New Media.

Steyerl, ‘Art As Occupation: Claims for an Autonomy of Life’, in E-flux journal

Optional Reading: Lyotard ‘Desire’s Complicity for the Figural’ from Discours/Figure

week 2. The Inter-subjective drama of (im/)material relations

Winnicott, ‘The use of an object and relating through identifications’ in Playing and Reality.

Eve Sedgwick, ‘Melanie Klein and the Difference Affect Makes’, in The Weather in Proust.

week 3. Aleatory, Phonic, Sardonic: Radial aspects in the politics of practices

Althusser, ‘The Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter.’

Stewart, ‘The Ear Heretical – a forum on phonemic reading’ – in Reading Voices, Literature and the Phonotext.

Amy De’Ath, ‘”Go in boys. Go in and stay there”: Feminist Poetry and Reading Dialectically’.

week 4. Reading poetry at the Wake of Conceptualist aesthetics

Joshua Clover, ‘The Technical Composition of Conceptualism’

Derrida, ‘Apparition of the Inapparent’, in Spectres of Marx.