Choreographies of disappearance : fugitive choreographies and other (non)performances in a time of hyper-performativity

Gala, Vânia (2020) Choreographies of disappearance : fugitive choreographies and other (non)performances in a time of hyper-performativity. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This practice-led enquiry explores disappearance in performance(s) in the present time. This doctoral project frames questions around the potential of withdrawal, opacity (Glissant, 1997), and (non)performance as fundamental ideas for performance(s). By taking a distinct approach to performance(s) that regards performance(s) as negation, I examine the meanings of this negation to show how specific (non)performances reconceptualize aspects of choreography and performance. My intention is to dispute presence as a constitutive category of emancipation and transgression in performance. The core question this study asks is what if this apparent professed agent of emancipation called performance – which relies on visibility and presence as pure homogeneous transgressive essences – supports a whole repertoire of devices and methods of suppression, control and reductionism that corresponds with non-emancipatory dispositions, trends or impulses of present-time hypercapitalist culture? By analysing the work of several artists and my practice-research, I seek to examine the potential of these (non)performances (refusals of calls to perform) in a time when performance collides with hypercapitalism and has become one of its core features. In the works considered here, performance(s) can be understood as refusal to comply with particular expected performances of reductionism (Glissant, 1997), operationality and productivity. I lay out the distinct pattern and forms of intervention of these (non)performances in an epoch of particular anxieties and challenges: the compulsion to perform, coloniality, social justice and our increasingly intimate, complex relation with technology. By approaching performance(s) from the perspective of disappearance – a refusal to perform – I aim to fill gaps resulting from the exploitative caesura capitalism creates between “Nature” and “Society” (Moore, 2015a). For performance to focus on this caesura, the empty interval between “Nature” and “Society”, is to open up performance(s) to other alternative performances, knowledges and concepts often “reduced” (Glissant, 1997) or ignored. From this perspective, this study intervenes in this break to open up the question of how divisions such as white and black, the West and the rest, the civilized and the primitive, and the capitalist and the worker are arguably underwritten by Western performance. These divisions result from this caesura (between “Nature” and Society) and are at capitalism’s core. This thesis entangles performance in these concerns and is interested in excavating these inscriptions in the continuum of the formation of performance.

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