Bodies and Performance 2018

Full Name: Victor Ladron de Guevara

Annual Conference Theme (if applicable): (Non)Human Worlds and Worldings

What were the main points that emerged from your WG this year?
The working group included a broad range of papers, performative papers and workshops that addressed the ideas of (Non)Human Worlds and Worldings reviewed through different theoretical, aesthetic and technical perspectives. We are noting below some of the key ideas that emerged in each presentation. Panel 1: Gendered Worldings. P. Solomon Lennox discussed the work and life of the boxer John L. Sullivan. In his paper he explored the elationship between boxing and nationalism and the categories of civilisation and barbarism. He also addressed the idea of the specialisation and professionalism of sport (boxing), and how this allows us to understand manliness  through its contradictions. As thus, current notions of masculinity can be interrogated. Maggie Inchley discussed the use of voice (or the absence of voice) in Guillermo del Toro’s  The Shape of Water, particularly in relation with the ‘me too’ movement. She then offered a parallel between the ‘silencing of the main female character’ and the dynamic of behaviours present in the academia and highlighted several issues within the film that positions it within a hegemonic, patriarchal worlding. In her presentation, Savannah Whaley stated that she is working in the development of a theory of irritation. She is particularly interested in the idea of female irritants and discussed in detail the work of Hayley Newman & Nina Könnemann as possible case examples of the work she would like to examine in more depth. For her, the notion of irritation problematises the boundaries of the body and contains issues of (gender) containment and regulations.   Panel 2: Material Worldings Yaron Shyldkrot explored the idea of the robotic voice (and offered  a rather ludic example of his work through the presentation of a ‘robot karaoke’ piece).  Yaron aims to create ‘Sonic possible worlds’ in which Alex (the robot) might reclaim his own words through his enunciation. Referring to Leslie’s New Materialism (‘Sonic sensibility’) and making use of Latour’s Actor Network Theory,  Yaron affirmed that objects remind us of the interconnectedness between all things. Yaron also highlighted the possibility of considering Objects in protest and of the disobedient object. Due to a late cancelation, Broderick Chow generously offered to present a paper in this session. In here, Broderick discussed the work of Joe Bonomo (weight lifter, strong man and stunt man) in particular relation with those ‘props’ used in body training process (particularly those processes that take place in gyms). Broderick argued that the performances done by Bonomo presented a work that could be inhabited, yet, nowadays the material world inhabit us. Broderick also highlighted notions of branding in regards to strong men practice and suggested the idea of the wilfulness of things/objects. An object which can co-author the performative act. Panel 3: Translation, Circulation and Worldings Fiona Wilkie explored the notion of travel as a kind of worlding. The paper is part of a larger project re touring and in here she addressed some of the problematic areas included in this act. In the paper she was particularly interested in the tropes of travel on stage and cultural mobility. Though an examination of  Station House Opera’s At Home in Gaza and in London and Cheek by Owl’s Pericles she examined issues of containment and the way in which travel was represented in those plays, as well as the dynamics of travelling experienced by these companies in their acts of touring/staging across the world. Carmen Wong and Adelina Ong offered a performance/paper presentation in which they questioned the authenticity of food, the notion of travelling bodies and the position of philosophy as a Western tenet. Problematising both internationalism and globalisation they critiqued Asian racialisation processes and particularly the way in which bodies are transformed by travel (signalling that there are bodies that can be changed by travel and bodies that can’t be changed). Open Panel: Wearing, Dancing, Dying Worlds   Rachel Hann explored the idea of Cosplay asking inn which way is something rendered a costume. Using Sarah Ahmed’s idea of orientation to complement a New Materialist perspective (which doesn’t generally recognise difference) Rachel offered an insight into a number of cosplay practices . Rachel also made use of Stewart’s idea of ‘sharply impassive attunement’ to discuss crafted bodies walking in (non)heteronormative ways and acts of participation being reaffirmed by the act of costuming. The possibility of difference is then explored by referring to Doležel’s idea that any actual world is always surrounded by an infinity amount of other worlds. Kyoko Iwaki discussed the possibility of Choreographing Fûdo (which roughly translates as climate and culture) . Offering an approach which combined both Western and Non Western scholars (as well as Western/Non-western methodologies and bodies of knowledge) Kyoko examined the work of Teshigaware for whom ‘the pine tree has been a protagonist for many years’. For Kyoko the study of dance is also a study of physics. Dance is a chain of reactions of elements which include both the body and the dissolution of the body. Aiming  to go beyond the Heiddegerian approach Kyoko advocates the use of Eastern philosophies which might allow us to renounce to the human centric approach to choreography   Dee Heddon offered a powerful, poetic and moving presentation in which she examined forests as a site to dwell on life and death. Taking a cue from her most recent Practice as Research project, she discussed tress as arboreal memorials or ‘time hybrid pieces’. Raising issues related to control (or lack of control and/or surrender of control) she described ‘life as an impersonal dynamic’. Referring to Lacoeur she also remind attendants that the dead body matters (the poetics of decomposition) and of the ways in which the corpse might lead to a form of ecological survival.   Panel 4: Body Worlding Practices In her performance/presentation Rachel Clive examined objects with their own agency. Inspired by the notion of ycles of growth, conservation, reorganisation Rachel recounted her experience of (land)navigating a number of rivers between England, Scotland and Wales. In this work she ask how we can make performances with landscapes whilst addressing elements of control and stigma. Finally Christianna Bisset shared with us her most recent PaR project through a workshop exploring water dousing. In here Christianna interrogated social fragilities, and explore the possibility of engaging with both bodies and objects through the notion of ‘flow’.

What was discussed at your business meeting?

The business meeting was used to signal some of the issues that arose from the presentations across the conference, exploring the possibility of using them as a springboard for next year’s CfP.

Amongst the main issues covered here, contributors referred to the importance of relations which might offer the possibility of engaging with dialectics and/or binaries. Some contributors signalled the importance of speaking back to colonialist bodies and continue to engage with non-western ways of knowledge asking what space we have to create to give space to different kind of knowledges. There is a clear call from some of our members to decolonise the WG and to enquire what happens to bodies of knowledge when they are repositioned.

The notion of regulation v.s. containment was also identified as key to our discussions. As a result of this discussion there were a range of possible topics that were suggested for next year’s conference:

  • Bodies in peril
  • Awkward bodies
  • Specialised bodies
  • Healing bodies
  • Bodies of disruption.

Members of the working group also expressed interest in probing notions related to discomfort, irritation, soreness and awkwardness. some of the members express a desire to interrogate failure in performance/performance failure (who gets to perform failure? who gets to recover?).

Finally, the mode of delivery of papers was also interrogated as some members would like to have more practical sessions (workshops and performances).

Members of the working group were invited to take part in our interim event, which will take place on the 24th November.




Types of contributions:
Papers, two performances (performance/paper), and one workshop.

Number of formal contributors (those listed in book of abstracts) 12

Approx. overall number of delegates who attended your WG Sessions There was an average of 20 people in each session with 30 people present at the Open Panel session.
Composition of WG (PG, ECR, etc.)
PG, ECR, MCR and senior academics including Professors

Did you have any non-UK participants? Yes

If your WG hosted an Open Panel, do you have any feedback?

The Open Panel ‘Wearing, Dancing, Dying Worlds’ included presentations by Dr Kyoko Iwaki, Dr Rachel Hann and Professor Dee Heddon. All three presentations were thought provoking and stimulating, thus offering a great deal of material for the Working Group to engage with. One of the things that worked very well in the panel was to have academics with a different level of seniority and diverse backgrounds. By doing so, the group managed to considered a diversity of voices and approaches that are not always placed alongside each other. The only issue to highlight here is that the name of the presenters for this panel ‘disappeared’ from the Website version of the conference prospectus a week before the conference opened. Nevertheless, this was addressed and corrected by Simon Banham almost immediately after alerting him of that omission.

Any additional points or feedback not covered above?

We would like to thank our colleagues at Aberystwyth for a job well done. The conference was organised in an extremely efficient way and we felt supported throughout it. We did not receive any negative feedback by any of the members of our working group and they all appear to have enjoyed their time there.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.