Performance Studies: A continuing conversation: Or, how to save everything by talking.
A continuing conversation: Or, how to save everything by talking.
A presentation by Stuart Grant, Jodie McNeilly and Jeff Stewart.
Abstract: We are very old friends who at various times were PhD candidates at the University of Sydney. Jeff is a writer and maker, Jodie is a dancer, Stuart is a musician and site-specific performer. We are all philosophers.
We began a conversation a few months ago at Jodie’s invitation on the impetus of Jane Bennett’s 2009 book, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. We quickly realised that what this book, and the ‘things themselves’ were asking of us was a complete renewal of the question of what it means to be a human on the earth among things. We were also curious about how our respective artforms might respond to issues that are more than human. This initiated a discussion which we have carried on regularly by Zoom for a couple of months. There are a number of key issues raised in what we are doing.
- The stakes are high: the destruction of the earth.
- A radical new approach to things beyond the subject-object distinction is required.
- This necessitates new methods of working, new ways of thinking, and ultimately new ways of being.
- Despite the feeling that we are in a desperate, in some ways hopeless situation, methodologies and conceptual frameworks exist which provide beginnings. Bennett’s book is indicative of a new spreading attempt to decentre the human. Our background in phenomenology provides methodologies and concepts such as Heideggerian gelassenheit, and Husserl’s call to the things themselves. Buber’s aesthetic theories have provided also useful intimations of how to proceed.
- We need to be led by the things and listen to what they are asking of us.
Our investigation, as a work of performance philosophy, is conducted as an event of speaking, a conversation. We have traversed theology, morality, ecology, aesthetics, craft, language, listening, uselessness, metaphysics, time, and many other topics. Our conversation aims to stay more in the question than in the assertion, more in praxis than in telos. In this iteration, we are continuing our conversation in front of the Sydney University Performance Studies seminar.
We do not know what will be produced, if anything, in this instance, or any other iterations, or whether anything that could be marked as being produced might essentially be a betrayal of our work.
AV Room, John Woolley Bldg, Rm S113, Sydney University