From Heidegger to Performance
Dr Stuart Grant: ‘Fundamental Occurrence’*
Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Ideas of performance and performativity have today spread beyond the bounds of their association with theatrical or aesthetic events. Use of the terms now ranges across fields from anthropology, sociology, psychology, gender studies, computer studies, linguistics and neoliberal economics, where the idea informs an apparatus of managerial control. Underlying this proliferation of applications, performance takes on a philosophical sense as a fundamental means of understanding the performative nature of human being.
Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time begins with the following passage from Plato’s Sophist concerning the question of the meaning of the term ‘being’: ‘For manifestly you have long been aware of what you mean when you use the expression “being”. We, however, who used to think we understood it, have now become perplexed’ (Plato, Sophist 244a, in: Heidegger  2010: xxix). Heidegger’s solution to this perplexity
was to enact something that we might now interpret as a performative approach to being. Following Heidegger, we might now be tempted to replace the word being with performance. First, the term performance has become so widely used, in so many loose ways, that it is becoming transparent or saturated; its meaning so taken-for-granted that it almost disappears. Second, and more pertinent to this symposium, is a renewed consideration of what might be termed the performative (or at least proto-performative solution which Heidegger develops) in response to the lost meaning of being.
This symposium seeks to explore confluences, direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious, a priori or a posteriori, between Heidegger’s work and ideas of performance and performativity across their various senses. It invites a catholic view of performance from live and mediated aesthetic performance, to the performativity of writing (nonfictional, fictional and poetic), everyday performance, performativity of language, artworks, events and situations.
Martin Heidegger (2010) Being and Time (trans. by Joan Stambaugh, revised and with a forward by Dennis
J. Schmidt), Albany: State University of New York Press.
*Dr Stuart Grant is a senior lecturer in Performance Studies at Monash University. He has published extensively on performance phenomenology, with an emphasis on Heidegger and performance, and on site-specific performance research. He is currently preparing the manuscript: Heidegger and the Origin of the Performative. Recent publications include:
‘The unnamed origin of the performative in Heidegger’s interpretation of Aristotelian Phronēsis’, and ‘The Essential Question: So what’s phenomenological about Performance Phenomenology?’ in: Performance Phenomenology: The Thing Itself. Palgrave MacMillan, 2018 (forthcoming);
‘Heidegger’s Augenblick as the moment of performance’, in: Performance and Temporalisation: Time Happens. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015;
‘Bodyweather as hermeneutic eidetics’, About Performance 14/15, 2017;
‘Performing from Heidegger’s Turning’, Performing Ethos 5(1-2), 2015: 37-51.
More details on how to register to follow.
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