Monday, April 04, 2005

PSi #11 Day 4 & 5...the end

The PSi #11 conference has ended and I feel rather lonely.

Yesterday I sat in on a panel on pain in performance and saw a naked woman stick herself with needles while she read her paper. I heard Richard Schechner (founder of the NYU Performance Studies program) speak at a roundtable to performance studies folks and attended a rather bland evening dance and theater performance. I also heard a talk on affect, which included talk about the Body Worlds show that is currently in Chicago. I saw the results of the Screen Test performance I took part in.

Schechner was actually first. It was interesting to see him negotiate a rather large roundtable, deflect accusations by another editor that he was acting like TDR was the defining voice in performance studies. RS expressed a desire for more writing for TDR or elsewhere that includes consideration of more music-based performance. He shared a feeling of helplessness about Spalding Grey’s final days.

The pain panel consisted of three presenters moderated by Kate Bornstein who was a performer during the conference and apparently known for having a sex change and presenting autobiographical work. Kate also expressed a love for pain and S&M that framed the panel with a personal sense of human urgency that was nice. She also did a nice framing thing by asking everyone to take a second to think about why they where there before the paper were presented and then called back to that just before the q&a time. The first paper broadly laid out a history of the image of pain in performance and then asserted that it is perhaps a relevant activity in the face of the numbness you might experience in contemporary society. The second panelist stick herself and I think successfully explored a place between the physical and rational by experiencing the pain while reading here academic paper and sharing asides on her moment to moment experience. The third panelist I paid less attention to, mostly looking for a good moment to leave to catch a talk on gesture, but it was on a specific performance artist. The panel was structured nicely to move for the macro to the more micro.

I have been collecting a short series of performance responses to the performance I saw during the conference. It is incomplete in a variety of ways and that makes me uncomfortable, but that is basically the idea…for it to be incomplete so further responses are easily applied.

The show I saw on Sat night I am not going to break down too much but the double bill suffered from numerous unfortunate tech lapses, which plagued this conference in general. The first part was a dance group, the second a west coast multi-media/movement theater thing. The west coast fascination with the TV and media of the "innocent" preadolescent years is tired to me.

My friend Ben tried take me to see some Providence noise-bands on Sun night, particularly, a band called Lightning Bolt. The show went very late and then got shut down by the police a couple songs into the Lighting Bolt set which was sad because the opening bands blew. There are lots of lovely old building in Providence and a warehouse district that lots of shows used to happen in, but after that big club fire that happened last year in Rhode Island the officials have been cracking down. It seems to be smothering the scene.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Erik,

I don't have my own blog so I'm interested in discussing the PSI Conference on yours. Here's a short list of things I've been thinking about since the end.
1) It seems like there were a number of distinct groups at the conference. The most obvious breakdown is between artist and theorist, but I think there were more groups than that.
2) What is the role of an artist who is not an academic at an academic conference about art?
3) With so much going on I only got some of the picture, but it seemed to me that there was a much stronger contingent of Brits writing critially about current performance art. American writing seemed to focus more on performative aspects of other cultural activities. If an American panelist was talking about current performance/theater/poetry, they were usually talking about their own.
4) How was the conference "performed?" Given the theorists, radicals, and artists all focusing on and very aware of some of the most extreme cultural practices, in what ways was it more radical (or just as banal as) a conference of real estate agents?

April 05, 2005 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One possibility might be to e-mail an invitation to join the conversation to the psi list itself.

April 05, 2005 12:39 PM  
Blogger Erik Fabian said...

2) Well I have been trying to figure out this myself.

Some thoughts...

As consumers of performance the academics are a very attentive and important audience for performance work. Artists might invite them to their shows.

As producers, academic create bodies of literature that are important in multiple creates discussion of art works, concretes a history of the work, the attention it generates invests a kind of cultural capital in the artists they write about and thus effect how funding moves towards the artists. Artists might solicit more writing of their work.

Academics seem to teach, to write, and to create projects of various sorts. It seems some academics are a kind of self-contained system...they do research on a topic, make a project on it and then write about it. Other academics need interesting art to write about. Artist might give the academics something to say.

Artists and academics might collaborate. It seems lots of performance studies folks are into multiple forms of communication yet struggle to present their papers in interesting ways. Maybe artists can help.

Artists can check the academic when they get too isolated and lost in jargon.


April 06, 2005 7:10 PM  

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