22. April 2021

Parliament of Practices: Action - Activation - Activism

This session of the Parliament of Practices will be on Tuesday April 27, 20:30 CEST / 7.30 pm GMT+1 / 15:30 BRT. 

For Zoom Link and (free) Registration contact us at mail@crosspollination.space. The next Parliament will be on Tuesday May 11 - Phronesis / Ethos in Practice. 

People from the performative arts have a specific perspective experience with ‘action’. The performative space is like ‘potential space' where nothing happens automatically or in a ‘daily’, functional manner. Instead, every action, object and relationship on the stage arrives for a reason and has the potential to become anything... except that what it is in daily life. A chair is never just for you to sit on and rest, a kiss is never there because the actors are in love. The question of how to perform an ‘action’ and what it’s consequences are therefore becomes central to the craft of performance. 

In this session we approach the question of "what is an action" from the perspective of our (performative) practices but also outside of it. What is the relation between our praxical knowledge of actions and activism in a civic context? What do we activate? Is there something in the term ‘artivism’? How can we think of actions as a tool for repair, recuperation and care in such times?

To nourish our dialogues, we gathered six fragments from different perspectives on the topic of action/repair

Richard Sennett sees three ways to ‘perform repair’:

- Restoration: making a damaged object seem just like new

- Remediation: improving its operation

- Reconfiguration: altering it altogether

In Together: the rituals, pleasures & politics of cooperation he writes: 

The use of imperfect or incomplete tools draws on the imagination in developing the skills to repair and improvise.’

Eve Ensler on Artivism in her article Politics, Power and Passion

“This passion has all the ingredients of activism, but is charged with the wild creations of art. Artivism—where edges are pushed, imagination is freed, and a new language emerges altogether." 

Donna Haraway in her book ‘Staying with the Trouble, making kin in the Chthulucene’: 

I am not interested in reconciliation or restoration, but I am deeply committed to the more modest possibilities of partial recuperation and getting on together. Call that staying with the trouble.’

Tim Ingold in ‘Correspondences: knowing from the inside’: 

‘The operating word, I think, should not be of but with. I would start from the postulate, then, that consciousness is always consciousness with, before it is ever consciousness of. Whereas of-ness is intentional, ‘with-ness’, I would argue is attentional. And what it sets up are relations not of intersubjectivity but of correspondence.’

Eugenio Barba writes in his fundamental work ‘The Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology’: 

In a performance, actions (that is, all that which has to do with dramaturgy) are ot only what is said and done, but also the sounds, the lights and the changes in space. At a higher level of organisation, actions are the episodes of the story or the different facets of a situation, the arches of time between two changes in the space- or even the evolution of the musical score, the light changes, and the variations of rhythm and intensity which a performer develops following  certain precise physical themes (ways of walking, of handling propos, of using make-up or costume). The objects used in the performance are also actions. They are transformed, they acquire different meanings and different emotive colourations...What is important is to observe that the actions come into play only when the weave together, when they become texture: ‘text’.

In ‘The Human Condition’ Hannah Arendt suggests that action is what propels us from static selves to dynamic agents of change, and considers the immense potential of that agency:

The smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of the same boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation.