21 September, 2023 | by Rushi P

Critical Stages/Scènes critiques
Unstable Grounds: Reconfigurations of Performance and Politics
Guest editors: Gigi Argyropoulou and Stefanie Sachsenmaier
Special Issue, June 2021 (#23)

This issue explores operations of performance during unstable conditions marked by socio-political, environmental, economic and further challenges. It is particularly interested in histories, reconfigurations and mutations of performance practice as it seeks to respond and ‘stay with the trouble’ (Haraway, 2016) of the present. Thinking through and beyond the political and ‘social turn’ (Jackson, 2011; Bishop, 2006; Kester, 2011) of recent years, this issue examines instances that rethink the relationship between performance and politics, giving rise to performative reconfigurations that challenge sedimented practices. Focusing on specific examples of performance practice in view of its emerging forms, aesthetics, processes of making, methods and pedagogies, the issue aims to trace how performance might critically question social imaginaries and offer structures of being and living otherwise.

In the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the wider performance sector has effectively been rendered inoperable. The current convergence of complex issues in the sector and beyond, triggered by the pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, in conjunction with the environmental crisis, calls for a radical undoing and reorganising of the political, the social, the cultural and the existential. In connection to current as well as related historical conditions, this issue seeks to address the following questions: How might cultural workers embrace conditions of instability and engage in processes of ‘shared brokenness’ (Harney and Moten, 2018)? In what ways might performance contribute to a shaking up of the ‘terrain of the sensible’ (Rancière, 2007)? What methods and tools are developed through performance-making that might function as models of ‘affirmative praxis’ (Braidotti, 2016)? How do performance processes participate in the building of an ‘emergent strategy’ (brown, 2017)?

We envisage this mixed-modal online peer-reviewed journal issue to include essays, manifestos, critical reflections, including images, videos and further forms of creative works. Indicative topics and questions to be addressed might include, but are not limited to:

– New ecologies and performance futures
– Performance during/after the pandemic (digital and alternative spaces)
– Performance as intervention/protests
– Collective modes of organising in performance
– Performance of/in brokenness
– Racism and social inequalities
– Indigenous knowledges
– Queer and counter publics
– Radical feminist traditions
– Performance and the environment
– Performance and posthuman thought
– Performance as/and exit/escape/withdrawal/stasis
– Radical histories of performance during periods of instability
– Neomaterialist approaches to performance-making and the undoing of structures

Full length essays as well as short provocations will be considered, alongside artists pages and other creative, multimedia material. We especially invite submissions from artists, academics and practitioner researchers from Global Majority backgrounds. For information about submission, visit: Critical Stages/Scènes critiques

Proposals (abstracts 300 words plus short biography): 20 October 2020
First drafts: 20 January 2021
Final drafts: 10 April 2021
Publication: June 2021

For proposals, submissions and general enquiries, please email [email protected] and [email protected]