PSi 17: Trashing Performance

Performance Studies International‘s annual conference takes place in Utrecht this year between May 25-29, and has the title “Camilo 2.0: technology, Memory, Experience.” I’m currently working on my paper for the conference entitled “This Performance Stinks: DUNST, trash, and the politics of arrested development.” My abstracts reads:

“Since their formation in 2001 in Copenhagen, the Danish performance and activist collective DUNST has made their name on the cultural scene with trashy genderfuck performances, outrageous parties, and a number of scandalous interventions on public radio and TV.

This paper analyzes the politics of DUNST’s performance practice, focusing on their investment in trashing of everything from high culture to respectable heteronormality. DUNST’s practice does not fit easily within traditional idioms of politics, due to their avoidance of the realm of the serious by all means, disassociating themselves from norms of appropriate behavior. Focusing on the figure of the perverted child endlessly caught in the “anal stage” that keeps recurring in their performances, I’m interested in reading DUNST’s practice as an example of what I call the politics of arrested development: a politics centered on refusing to “grow up” and align oneself with the straight timelines of heteronormative society.

Although DUNST’s staging of “arrested development” can be said to problematize heteronormative politics and codes of conduct, I’m interested in addressing the potential limits of this position in light of issues concerning race, whiteness, and privilege. Can their refusal of norms and appropriate behavior take part in creating other forms of normalities and other Others? And by what standards may we judge the practice of a group who not only vehemently disassociates itself from political and progressive value systems, but whose practice can hardly be said to be consistent?”

I’ll present my paper in the panel “Trashing Performance,” with the fantastic members of my research group by that name. We’re part of the Performance Matters research program – a AHRC-funded collaboration between Goldsmiths University, Rohampton University and Live Art Development Agency.

The “Trash Team,” as we’re called, have a joint session at PSi 17 comprised of a panel and a shift: I’ll present my paper in the panel “Trashing Performance” together with Vikki Chalklin, João Florêncio, and Gavin Butt (chair). After a short break, “The O Show” will take over the stage, hosted by the one and only Oriana Fox, who talk to the guests of the night: Owen G. Parry, Vikki Chalklin, João Florêncio, and Jay Stewart.

“The O Show” will be streamed online, so you can all watch and participate from a computer near you on Thursday May 26, between 19.30 and 21.00. More info will follow.

See the preliminary program for PSi 17 here (PDF).

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