Re-Turning to The Show: Repetition and the construction of spaces of decision, affect and creative possibility

Katerina Paramana

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    2 Citations (Scopus)
    11 Downloads (Pure)


    The contemporary moment, if we are to intervene in and radically change the current social and economic system, demands that we return to, rearticulate, reimagine and redefine concepts, goals, desires and relations. Returning to performance works that continue to haunt us, that have left us with the feeling that something has not been articulated about their importance, might help us rearticulate our relation to the world, to others, our place in and the function of current systems. In this article, I return to Jérôme Bel's The Show Must Go On and specifically to its first presentation in 2001– a time when a great deal of participatory work began to be made – to offer a different articulation to those offered so far. Drawing on the thinking of Wendy Brown, Gilbert Simondon, Jeremy Gilbert and John Protevi, I examine the work's economy of relations, its consequent production of the social and the potential that emerged from it. I focus my attention on the sociality produced in a specific moment in this presentation and the role of repetition in it. I suggest that, in that moment, a ‘disequilbrium’ caused by the work's dramaturgy resulted in a shift in the system of the work which afforded the spectators’ repetitive intervention in it and allowed for the work's potential to emerge. Using Simondon's theory of individuation (2005) and Gilbert's (2014) articulation of it, I argue that the work's production of sociality created a space of decision, affect and creative possibility, that enabled practices of thinking, relation and action, that any democratic institution should be informed by, enable and repeat. I suggest that it is such practices that constitute what I define as ethical encounters. While The Show is not conventionally considered to be a participatory or socially engaged work, I maintain that it achieves some of the claimed or intended, but often not delivered work of contemporary participatory performance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-124
    Number of pages9
    JournalPerformance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2015


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