performance on a paper floor

This might be of interest (available through the library):

Asentić, Saša & Ana Vujanović (2008). My Private Bio-Politics A Performance on a Paper Floor. Performance Research 13(1): 70-78

Here’s a sample:

You enter the hall. Working lights. A male performer in trousers and t-shirt is already on the stage. The stage is about 11m x 8m. On the left page you can see a square of mostly paper material on the floor. Among them you can recognize some books, a video camera, a lot of documents, one chair, an unrecognizable black box-like object and along the diagonal of the square several ceramic pots. On the right there is another square; it is a ‘ring’, like a boxing ring, marked by very thin white thread, Some 10cm from the ground. In the right back corner of the ring, there is a goblin on a gantry; it depicts the figure of a female dancer. The performer is preoccupied with the needlework.

does not observe a distance

It’s a little out-dated but Borgdorff’s summary of the practice-as-research field remains very useful indeed. Borgdorff describes many of the kinds of issues that we have discussed and I wonder where you position yourselves in relation to them now.

Donald Schön speaks of ‘reflection in action’ in this context, and I earlier described this approach as the ‘immanent’ and ‘performative perspective’. It concerns research that does not assume the separation of subject and object, and does not observe a distance between the researcher and the practice of art. Instead, the artistic practice itself is an essential component of both the research process and the research results. This approach is based on the understanding that no fundamental separation exists between theory and practice in the arts. After all, there are no art practices that are not saturated with experiences, histories and beliefs; and conversely there is no theoretical access to, or interpretation of, art practice that does not partially shape that practice into what it is. Concepts and theories, experiences and understandings are interwoven with art practices and, partly for this reason, art is always re exive. Research in the arts hence seeks to articulate some of this embodied knowledge throughout the creative process and in the art object.

– Henk Borgdorff


plato and not learning anything new

From Alva Noë:

Plato articulated a variation on this same puzzle a couple of thousand years ago: You need to know what you’re looking for in order to tell when you’ve found it but, if you already know, then why go looking? The upshot, for Plato, is that you can’t learn anything new. Perhaps he would have been better off noticing that hearing, perceiving, learning, is always a matter of using what you know to make sense of what is on offer.

In practice-as-research the ‘what you know’ part comes from a deep and ongoing understanding of the nature of your practice(s).

a list to put you at ease

Hi all

A few thoughts at this stage of the practice-as-research process:

  • how direct or indirect might you be with how you choose to present your practice?
  • keep modifying and playing with what the outcome(s) might be
  • notice how different imperatives might serve you or get in the way (like Jenny has thought through here:
  • stretch how you understand the relationship(s) might exist between writing practice and ‘dancing’ practice (whatever that word dancing might be for you: reading, collecting stains, walking silently, humming, shouting, etc)
  • keep your attention “soft” so that you aren’t so desperate to know that you miss what is going on
  • keep it simple
  • keep it small or contained
  • depth over breadth
  • keep the practice alive even as you narrow down what might happen on 11/12
  • fare (in Italian): to do and to make are the same
  • keep looking for the pleasure in this process, and in these outcomes
  • keep supporting each other, keep listening to each, keep challenging each other
  • you are going to be OK

relationship between writing and practice

This list assumes that writing is distinct from the practice (or that writing is not a practice) so forgive the simplistic tone of the binary.

  • let the writing do its work, and the practice do its own work
  • parallel trajectories that focus on different (but related) concerns
  • writing that critically reflects on the practice (careful here not fall into traps of justification, complication, validation)
  • writing that helps to cohere
  • writing that serves to mess it up (careful: how to make it clear that you understand the nature of your project?)
  • “to discover a way for repeated words to become performative utterances rather than constative utterances” – Peggy Phelan (1993, p.149)

thinking about noticing and writing

In such a culture, time spent exploring the question is only justified to the extent that it clearly leads towards a solution to the problem. To spend time dwelling on the question to see if it may lead to a deeper question seems inefficient, self-indulgent or perverse.

– Guy Claxton, Hare Brain Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less. London: Fourth Estate, p.5

The process of noticing and writing takes time. It is not something we can just do (like anything that is difficult). Be patient. Be rigorous. Practice.

And this:

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

– Gustave Flaubert

brain pickings from Judith Butler

Ideally, we lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world — in short, we become more critical and more capacious in our thinking and our acting.


An active and sensate democracy requires that we learn how to read well, not just texts but images and sounds, to translate across languages, across media, ways of performing, listening, acting, making art and theory.

And finally:

We have to continue to shake off what we sometimes think we know in order to lend our imaginations to vibrant and sometimes agonistic spectrums of experience.