A Practical Sense for Liveness / Un senso pratico per la vitalitá degli eventi

Written contribution for the publication On the Folds of Real by the Lens of Performative #2 of Loc. Fies 1, a series by Centrale Fies curated by Roberta da Soller with Simone Frangi

The contribution responds to an invitation of Centrale Fies (a platform for performing arts and performance located in Northern Italy) to write about the political involvement of artistic practice. 

It addresses the following questions posed by the editorial and curatorial team of the publication: What is the politics of performance? How can a performative act change the real in socio-political terms? What tools do you use in your practice to carry out a trespassing between art and life?

The writing starts by posing the following question in return: If artistic work is the ongoing accumulation of experience that constantly generates or regenerates itself in a practice, what is at stake when this practice becomes presentation?

The aim is to reflect on what gets chosen to become visible as work in the ongoing commitment and processing of experiences that form a practice. It considers the possibility to expose the present continuous tense of practicing to resist and protest the administration of art into singular events. 

By doing so, I propose a challenge for the institutional context of Centrale Fies, routinely producing and presenting works of theatrical performing arts as well as artistic and genre-binding performances: to consider their administrative task in separating rehearsals from live events, and to listen to the flow of elements in artistic performative practices that make it alive – improvisation, research, preparation, trial, error, change. 

I use two references to focus on the idea of a generative drive that conducts the artistic engagement with reality as material: One is the idea of overproduction in practice according to artist Jon Mikel Euba. Euba conceives this as a ‘carving out’ of emotional, affective moments from the spatial and temporal coordinates of reality. Cultural critic Jacqueline Rose talks instead about the ‘ecstatic condition’ of working in excess and embedding into, rather than transcending, any real experience. Both references address a surplus of participating that while taking from reality its material, it also requires an immersive, embodied involvement in it. This informs the text’s insistence on practicing in excess, and exceeding the expectations around practices, suggesting that the continuous effort of supporting an artistic endeavour to be present and actual forms its present-ability. This refers to an ability to make a practice presently active when shared publicly and witnessed by others than the artist.

Under this perspective, I propose that practicing seems to protest the forms of institutionalization and management of live arts. But how is this ungraspable, non-discursive condition without statute reconciled with the presentation, when the latter has an administrative function regarding the vitality of events? I develop here an analysis of the role of instructions and protocols for action through the experience of working with a movement researcher for the durational performance titled Resist Everywhere, Masako (see the works related to the collaboration Curandi Katz). It intertwines with Karen Barad and Judith Butler’s interpretation of responsibility as ability to respond and forming a sensibility towards liveness.