Performance and Labour Symposium

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  • The Symposium on Performance and Labour is organised by Larne Abse Gogarty and Josefine Wikström with support from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London, and the History of Art Department at University College London (UCL) and will be held November 3, 2012 in London, United Kingdom.

    This symposium is an interdisciplinary event that will address performance in an expanded sense and as a form of labour. This means considering performance as an activity and a practice that takes place both within and outside the realm of art. The symposium will interrogate the physical and intellectual experiences of viewing and producing performances; these questions will be raised across the fields of art history, philosophy, performance studies, political economy, theatre and dance. Addressed in this expanded way, the aim of the symposium is to investigate the histories of mass performances and social choreographies in political contexts, to situate performance as a form of praxis and to interrogate the language of performance as a managerial strategy within late capitalism.

    Conference Topics

    We invite papers on collective performance; reproductive labour and performance; aesthetics; the political economy of performance; histories of performance; divisions of labour and cultures of management within performance.

    Performance and the Commodity Form

    Whilst the commodity form and the labour internal to it within art forms such as painting, sculpture and photography have been well examined - mainly through concepts such as reproducibility, technique and craft - performance art has frequently been neglected within this discussion. Many artists during the 1960s used performance as way to escape the increasing commodification of the visual arts and the rapid expansion of the art market. But how can we relate the past aspirations of performance as an anti-commodity to the status of performance art today? How does performance circulate and re-produce itself on the art market and how can we conceptualise the labour internal to its production?

    Performance, Experience and Emancipation

    This session aims to raise questions about the aesthetics of performance. Can we think about the aesthetic of performance as an emancipatory, transformative process for performers, rather than an experience directed towards an audience? What forms of aesthetic analyses are capable of theorising performance as a transformative experience? In thinking about our current moment, how have restrictions upon protest, gatherings, and occupations through the use of injunctions and dispersal orders implicated the possibilities of an emancipatory politics of collective movement?

    Collectivity and Mass Performance

    Whilst theatre by its very nature generally tends to be thought of as a collective performance, the histories of performance art are overwhelmingly oriented towards a singular performer rather than a mass, or collective, and are therefore theorised through the body, rather than bodies. What are the political implications of this occlusion of histories of collective performance? How might this be negotiated by socially engaged or mass performance art? What is the pedagogy of performance?

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