Revisiting “Performance” Sights, looks, critiques

Workshop, Roma




The 25th of November 2016 Istituto Svizzero di Roma organizes an international workshop bringing together artists and researchers, for a pubblic discussion around the evolution of the term “performance” and of the concept of “performative” in contemporary art and critique. The program comprises the participation of Davide Fornari (ECAL, Lausanne – former ISR fellow), Luca Greco (Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle), the artist Suzie Léger (Vienna, New York), Claude Rosental (EHESS, Parigi) and Philippe Sormani (Istituto Svizzero).

In a recent essay, performance artist Andrea Fraser laments the worldly success of the notion of “performance” (Fraser 2014). From designating the particular genre of distinctive interventions in and against contemporary art, the notion is said and seen to have turned into an umbrella term devoid of its former specificity. Today, virtually any cultural production—be it in the arts, in design, or even in science and technology—happens to be characterized as somehow “performative.”

Alternatively, Fraser casts her artistic performances as interstitial problematizations of the routine grounds that make up the social world, including its institutional realities, established relationships, and the habitual conduct of its members. Fraser’s interventions echo a longstanding research strategy in sociology and social theory more broadly, going back to Harold Garfinkel’s “breaching experiments” (1967), Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical approach (1956) and, more recently, Judith Butler’s critical discussion of gender performances (1990).

In turn, this research workshop takes its cue from Fraser’s critique and alternative proposal to do two things: first, to revisit distinctive notions, practices and paradoxes of performance in contemporary arts and sciences; second, to reflect upon the multifaceted connections between sociological argument, art theory, and cultural interventions. The cryptic subtitle above alludes to a simple leading idea, namely the idea that performances have a particular heuristic potential, as they call into question “at first sight” evidences, invite “second looks,” and thus open up multiple avenues for “critique” (artistic, conceptual, institutional, etc.). To discuss this leading idea and related issues, the workshop brings together selected scholars and performers, both from Switzerland and abroad, as well as this year’s art and research fellows at the Swiss Institute in Rome.


Friday 25.11.2016

Welcome and Introduction
Philippe Sormani and Guelfo Carbone (Istituto Svizzero di Roma)

“Walk Through ____ and Nothing Collapses” – a Presentation of Works
Suzie Léger (performance artist, Vienna and New York)

Rethinking Performance through Social Interaction: Some Elements for a Genealogy of a Concept
Luca Greco (Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, Sorbonne Paris Cité)

Reenacting the Archives. From Gruppo T to Bianca e Blu
Davide Fornari (ECAL, Lausanne)

DA DA DA: Phenomenon, Reentry, Frame
Philippe Sormani (Istituto Svizzero di Roma)

Viewing Public Demonstrations as Performances?
Claude Rosental (EHESS, Paris)

H17:00 General discussion

H17:30 Aperitif

The event is public and will be held in English and Italian.