Vulnerable thinking/practice: intervening through enchantment and discomfort

Perazzo Domm, Daniela (2019) Vulnerable thinking/practice: intervening through enchantment and discomfort. In: 4th Biennial Performance Philosophy Conference - Between Institution and Intoxication: How does Performance Philosophy Intervene?; 14-17 Mar 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Unpublished)


In this presentation, I consider the conditions from which intervention may take place, as well as the effects that intervention aims to produce. What is required in order to intervene? Are stability, knowledge, virtue necessary prerequisites of gestures and actions of intervening? Etymologically, intervention is the coming between of an extraneous factor; it indicates an interference, including in the form of a procedure aimed at fixing or improving a pathology, as in the surgical sense. As such, it implies a claim to a relative strength and the promise of a better outcome. I question to what extent modalities of intervention, including critical gestures that enact a contestation of institutional structures, might still be infused with dominant understandings of knowledge production. Can we intervene when we are vulnerable? Can intervention edge towards fragility and discomfort not as a result of a failure to transform that which it interferes with, but as a way of envisioning alternative modalities of being in the world? Invoking Julietta Singh’s (2018) dehumanist deconstruction of the notion of mastery, I think through performance practices that foreground vulnerability in their modalities of engagement with institutional knowledge. At the centre of my discussion is the collaborative creative work of Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamila Johnson-Small’s Project O, which includes dances for the stage, an immersive performance, video artworks, performative interventions, a book and a free school: its exploration of queer temporalities and of dehumanist solidarity through practices of discomfort and enchantment (Voodoo, 2017) reaches towards alternative understandings of ethical and political positioning.

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