• SPATIUM MONSTRORUM: Performance-as-surface

Zacharopoulou, Despina, 2022, Thesis, SPATIUM MONSTRORUM: Performance-as-surface PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This practice-led Ph.D. thesis suggests a radical rethinking and re-making of performance art, moving away from traditional approaches which limit live art discourse within binaries, essentialism and fixed identities; contemporary performance is instead rethought of as surface, as field occupied only by intensities.

Through the examination of protocols of violence and protocols of written contracts in the performances carried out, the importance of protocols of governmentality in the production and distribution of intensities within live art, is emphasized. By regulating each performance-surface’s topographical structure, protocols of governmentality initiate morphogenetic processes governing the thickness
and the porosity of boundaries within the performer-audience encounter, as manifested through the repetitive use of the performer’s body and its transmutation into flesh. Master and slave contracts as used in BDSM, are brought forward, both as examples of governmentality and as potential programs for the fabrication of a Body without Organs, indicating methodological tools on how to channel intensities within performancessurfaces. Within the suggested paradigm, repetition in performance art is now rethought of as repetition of difference and Eternal Return to trauma. Along this line of thought, trauma is looked at as corporeal trace and residue circulating within feedback loops. The risk required on behalf of the performer for the aforementioned move to take place, opens up a horizon for performance art to become a locus for truth to be exposed, with truth being rethought of as parrhēsia; as event of courageous truth-telling where the performer-parrhēsiast exposes both themselves and a life which is radically other.

Following from the above, performance-as-surface cannot but also suggest a radical rethinking regarding the production of images, that would dismiss representation, symbolism, and linguistic signification. Images are instead looked at: (a) as pulsating differences emerging during the convergence and divergence among different series of images, (b) as residues of the recurring exercise of forces upon the performer’s body, and/or (c) as shifting mechanisms within the flow of the performance’s duration. Consequently, this research radically resituates both performance-making and art-led research methods. The methodologies employed, in combination with references to non-dialectical thinkers, such as: Lyotard, Deleuze & Guattari, Foucault, Kierkegaard, Klossowski, Bataille, Warburg, Barad, Hadot, Golding, Califia and others, dismiss the Dogmatic Image of Thought as expressed by Hegelian dialectics and show how performance art might engender thinking via non-dogmatic images-thoughts. In so doing, the thesis aims at disrupting the practice vs. theory binary and reveal the
entangled affairs of images-as-thoughts and research-as-practice, from which itself has emerged. What essentially comes out of this delicate weave is a way of grasping an ontoepistemological move, brought into poetic performance environments, to resituate the logic of sense and update it to the 21st century. By rethinking performance art as surface, a further discussion about a new hermeneutics of the subject opens, with identity now being grasped as pulsating difference and fortuitous case submitted to Eternal Return. In addition, the potential of new ways of being with, via ideas of vulnerability and affectability, is enabled, after raising the urgency for a politics of intimacy and an ethics of care in performance art. In so doing, performance-as-surface suggests a revaluation of performance-as-philosophy, that is; as praxis towards life-as-surface, a life experienced in its full intensity and in pure joy.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: Onassis Foundation Scholarship for Research Studies [Scholarship ID: F ZL 027-1/2015-2016]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Spatium Monstrorum; performance; surface; philosophy; parrhesia; practice based
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2022 17:45
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2022 14:44
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5078
Edit Item (login required) Edit Item (login required)