Title: ‘PSr: Performance Studies regional’ – Angeliki Avgitidou, Ayrin Ersöz, Zeynep Günsür, George Sampatakakis, Anna Tsichli, in conversation with Bojana Kunst (a panel co-curated with Zeynep Gündüz)

How can we start thinking about Performance Studies in relation to the region they appear? And more specifically, how can we start imagining Performance Studies within the particular historical and cultural landscape of Greece?

Although Performance Studies is a field of research that started developing and centering itself around the western world (predominantly in anglosaxonic countries, such as the United States and England), it has recently expanded in non-western geographical and cultural areas and is, thus, being displaced by diverse and region-specific contexts.

This panel calls into question such practices of Performance Studies’ dislocation through a discussion between scholars from Greece and Turkey and in conversation with the Slovenian philosopher and performance theorist Bojana Kunst. The invited speakers are asked to make short statements in relation to their experience and imaginations about ways in which Performance Studies exist or could exist in these two neighbor countries , seeking to challenge international understandings of performance research and to think together about possible forms that it can take.

Title: ‘Now out of joint‘ – Bojana Bauer and Myrto Katsiki

Performance’s specific ontological status doesn’t seem to be any more neither a cross to bear for being the ephemeral ugly duckling in the family of perennial arts, nor does it present possibilities of resistance to the order of fetishist signs, objects and their economy. It would seem that performance actually settles in perfect synchronicity with the temporality of today: relentless speed of newness that locks us in the paradoxically immovable present. More importantly, this shift doesn’t happen only on the ontological level, but is observed through the structural functioning: productions of relations, connections, collaborations as constantly renewable ground for renewable subjectivities. We will try to unpack this effortless contemporaneity of performance through looking at a singular choreographic practice: that of American choreographer Deborah Hay and her Solo Performance Commissioning Project. Exploring its modes of production and circulation we will attempt to trace the different temporal structures which seem to place this project in between two different articulations of the now: if its underlying logic consists in a production of specific updates for each upcoming version, synchronizing it with the neoliberal flux of production/circulation, it also seems that the micro-context and the micro-temporality of each solo, and of the individual work of performers, produces an out of joint condition in contradiction with its overall mode of circulation.

Opening Lecture – Maaike Bleeker

Maaike Bleeker, the current president of PSi, will open the Regional Research Cluster ‘Encounters in Synchronous Time’ with a lecture addressing the field and character of Performance Studies. She will talk about the PSi organization and will reflect on the relation between regional and international aspects of the field of Performance Studies today, in connection to the cluster’s theme, the notion of synchronicity.

Title: ‘Lament and performance in Greece: prohibited encounters in contemporaneity’ – Marios Chatziprokopiou

The term contemporaneous is often identified with the dominant occidental model of a world “where we are born in the clinic and we die in the hospital” (Marc Augé), where time is cut into pieces in parallel digital presents and the future becomes an obsession. It largely presupposes losing locality, collectivity and memory, thus excluding the elsewhere, the others, the other time. What abilities of resistance to this logic does the concept of contemporaneity -based on the prefix συν of the Greek word for contemporaneous (which is equivalent to the word synchronous)- give us, in the measure that this reveals not so much the together, but the together with, thus premising the notion of the encounter?

In some parts of Greece nowadays), the last remains of female/women’s lament for the dead are still performed. Through their improvised performance, the mourners try to maintain the memory of the deceased alive, by creating -with their bodies and voices- a bridge of encounter between the here and the beyond, the alive and the dead, but also among the living (Ana Caraveli). The dominant model of contemporaneity on the one hand imposes the recording of a lament ritual as a tradition which is dying out, and on the other hand a solitary or at least silent death. However, if we think about contemporaneity as an encounter, we see that lament, a very ritual performance where the natural and the imaginary time meet, inspires the contemporary artistic practice in Greece. Based on concrete examples of performances by modern Greek women creators that are in a direct or indirect dialogue with lament tradition, we will examine the following questions:

  • How and when do these performances stray from the infertile reproduction of the tradition, and create something new, but based on a reverent relation with the present? How can something contemporaneous not exclude locality; Which are the differences between an extreme attachment to ancestors and the “you are somebody’s son” as defined by Jergy Grotowski; What is the sound of a contemporaneous vibration that meets the “root of the scream”?
  • In the dominant model of a world where public mourning is often repressed or offered selectively,-meaning that some people are worthy of tears while others aren’t (Judith Butler)-, which new contemporaneity do the performances of modern female Greek artists –who are inspired by lament tradition- try to contradict? What voids of memory and of pain can these performances cover? And what prohibited encounters do they venture to fulfil?

Title: ‘Double translations: telling another way to tell’ – Karen Christopher & Litó Walkey

One of the formative questions of phenomenology was whether our colloquial and intuitive sense that time ‘flows’ is an objective fact – or an illusion created by some part of our perceptual apparatus. Edmund Husserl, in a seminal formulation, proposed that the sense of flow is achieved through a tripartite structure of temporal cognition. The perception of any immediate moment, Husserl thought, always contains elements of ‘retention’ and ‘protention’ – of what has just passed and what is about to occur. The ‘now’ cannot be prised out of the sequence of the immediate past and the immediate future. For example, we could not hear a melody as melody if our immediate apprehension of the note before our ears was not accompanied by our ‘memory’ of the note just before and an expectation of the note to follow.

                                                                                                   from Time by Eva Hoffman

Whereas we seek to understand the present moment, and whereas we are curious about the effects of simultaneous actions taking place in agreement and acting on two separate bodies in two separate locations, and whereas we close gaps as a somatic function, and whereas this is time turned down (this is my heart and these are my breaths) and this is counting, and whereas we are exploring the potential of carefully composed performance directives* for use as creative mechanisms:

At an agreed point in time, for a set duration, in two separate locations, each of us will engage in a particular series of gestures provoked by a performance directive assembled of two fragments composed by ourselves for this purpose.

Our exchanges about these gestures ‘take place’ in the form of inscribed invitations prior to the appointed time and inscribed reflective reports following the appointed time.

We are each going through a three-part event, sharing the first and third part through inscribed exchange and the second part through common time. These intersecting three-part events evoke, archive and share evidence of double translations (idea/ inscription/ action), time-keeping, and migration of gestures.

We plan to continue these event/exchanges through the year and propose that the culmination of this practice will result in our event at the PSi cluster in Athens (November 2011). This event will be structured to incorporate our own practice results along with guest participants responding to performance directives that emerge as the presentation takes place.

Once the story is known, then the rest will be telling another way to tell.

*A performance directive is a written inscription, constructed from gathered material. One of the particularities of a directive, as opposed to an instruction or a score, is that it is a suggestion towards a possible future or a possible performance. A performance directive is not written in anticipation of a right or wrong answer. Rather than telling how something should be done, it is an invitation, an invitation to be translated according to and depending on the person responding. It is a trigger for investigation.

Title: ‘Name Readymade’ (Performance-lecture) – Janez Janša

Name Readymade is a project presentation dealing with a wide range of issues related to the “name changing” gesture perpetrated by three Slovenian artists who, in 2007, officially, and with all the papers and stamps required, changed their names and assumed the name of the Slovenian Prime Minister at the time, Janez Janša. Ever since, all their works, their private and public affairs – in a word, their whole life – have been conducted under this new name. It is a parcours through different stages and aspects of the act of name changing and its consequences, including public, relational and intimate ones.

Title: ‘Climates of attention, ecologies of practice’ Joe Kelleher

What makes an activity into a practice? And how can we consider our practices as engagements with the ‘contemporary’? Philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers defines a practice not as the activity of an individual, nor the product that comes from that activity, but rather the ‘constraints’ – the requirements and obligations, the risks and challenges – that determine the ‘value’ that we create, invent and share with others through the activities that matter to us ‘here and now’. For Stengers, we can only usefully think about these values if we consider our activities – as scientists, as artists, as activists, as producers of critical discourse or whatever – in relation to a larger ‘ecology of practices’. For my lecture in Athens I would like to consider this notion of an ecology of practices in relation to those special human capabilities – or virtuosities – that define our work as performers on the contemporary scene. In particular I am interested in the various forms of attention – and also interruption and inattention – that enable us to function as creative practitioners, and that our work demands of others: of our collaborators, of our audiences and critics, and of passersby who encounter our work while concerned, as we all are, with activities and constraints of their own.

Title: ‘Finally Together On Time’ – Encounter between Bojana Kunst and Ivana Muller

Encounter is shared time between the people, which means that it opens up the time to the different modulations of being with, with no regard to exclusivity of space or event which enables it. However – to be with, we also have to be on time: to be with, we have to respect the deadline of being with, so that encounter could happen in the same moment for both of us. Encounter has a paradoxical temporality: on one side it enables the singularisation of different times (synhronicity), on another is already an exclusivity of time, a performance of time when we can come together (contemporaneity in the sense of being present). One is enabling the other and vise versa, however both sides of encounter are always in constant tension, only so – in this tension between division of times and exclusivity of being together – encounter is possible.

This paradoxical temporality of enriching encounters has always been part of our exchange. Maybe this exchange is so ungraspable since it happened through synchronous temporal modes of friendship, accidental meetings, coffee lengths, workshop breaks, lucky coincidences (finding each other in the same place for some amount of time), however never as a project, as something on which we would work together to happen. That’s why always in our collaboration we have an ambivalent relationship to projective temporal structure, through which potentialities of our meetings would be organised and we could grasp the ungraspable in our exchange.

So what would happen when we enable for ourselves this exclusivity of being together, when we give our encounter a spatial and projective dimension? How do we go on?

In Athens we would like to present one part of our ongoing work in which we would like to explore the performativity time and encounter. We propose two hours of exhange – a dialogue among us in which we will explore the performative modes of encounter. What does it mean to perform our working together and how can we make the elements of this work public?

City and synchronicity in athenian performance: the case of the project ‘Urban-structures’ (Hellenic Festival, July 2011)– Vassilis Noulas

The city provides a guarantee for synchronicity: the city coordinates and synchronises (time, rhythm and spatial harmonization) but also synchronizes (makes synchronous) anything that happens within it. We could say that in modern times the urban produces the contemporary (as well as the synchronous) and – vica versa – the contemporary/synchronous is realised concessively in the city.
The city reacts to, resists, synchronicity: if by synchronicity we understand a harmonization, rhythmical and spatio-temporal, then the city is par excellance the place of poly-rhythmia, of dys-harmonization, of multiple identities, of heterotopias, of the fragmentary and fragmented. In this sense, the only possible resistance towards the flattening and authoritative logic of synchronicity is a resistance in (and from within) the city. Or, rather, a nexus of multiple urban resistances.
Hence, the city obtains a double and ambiguous relation to synchronicity. On the one hand, the city produces its appearance (synchronicity becomes evident only in the city, or primarily there) and on the other hand it produces its disguise (synchronicity disintegrates, de-synchronizes itself, caught in the complicated nexus of urban life). Within this context, what are the ventures that the art of performance may activate in a city? More specifically, what are the questions it poses, in relation to the city of Athens and synchronicity, and the project ‘Urban-structures’ which was presented as part of a ‘nexus’ of 5 performances in specific places in the city in July 2011?

Title: ‘Encountering Synchronicities: Performing Contemporary Athenian Presence’ – Hypatia Vourloumis

Unfolding from a performance witnessed in April 2010 at the annual festival organized by the Union of African Women held at the Agora of Kipseli in Athens, this paper will argue that both the notions of synchronicity and encounter can be productively explored through this moment of particular Athenian embodiments that put pressure on fixed and problematic understandings of the contemporary in current urban artistic and cultural production. Inspired by the work of the group that calls itself Έλα να δεις τι κάνουμε, (Come and see what we do) this presentation thinks through how imaginative improvisations of bodily and cultural movement express ideas, histories and feelings regarding visibility and aurality as belonging and difference. The sounds and gestures of the performance studied will lead into a conversation with the persona of “The Mythic Being” created by the artist and philosopher Adrian Piper whose work addresses the contrast between what she calls “abstract atemporality and the indexical, self-referential present” in order to reflect upon the synchronous encountering of both object and subject by way of the theatricality of presence.

Title: ‘Elsew/here’ – David Williams

As part of the PSi ‘contemporary/synchronicity’ research cluster in Athens, David Williams proposes a performative lecture-presentation that explores notions of critical history and life-writing through a mapping of contiguities at a particular moment in time. It will investigate writing itself as a mechanism to invite a fleeting gathering of other places, people, events occurring simultaneously in disparate locations ‘elsew/here’. In other words, a spatial drift within a precise temporal frame.  Such writing is conceived of as a critical practice, an associational and frictional ‘deep mapping’ of social and political factors at work there and then / here and now. With reference to a range of people, institutions and places at the time of his birth – including Allen Ginsberg, Elvis Presley, big game hunters, nuclear weaponry scientists – David proposes to bring into ‘untimely’ association and connection material about origins, knowledge, state-sanctioned violence, ‘fall-out’, blindness and milk. What submerged histories may be braided around one’s own?

Peachy Coochy:

Jeffrey Andreoni (Bezdomny), Nusa Pavko and  Rebecca Weeks
Presenter: Jeffrey Andreoni:

 “‘syn-’ is not so much used to indicate ‘with’, as it is used to reveal the notion of ‘together with’… together with one’s time but also together with an other.”

Each of our individual artistic practices rely on synchronicity to function. Our work is about witnessing and being witnessed, the sensitivity and openness that it takes to witness and to hold oneself and others to account. Our work hovers between the past and present. Working with archetypal figures and how they relate to the economic and political situations of the present day. Within our project we have explored the notion of ‘togetherness’, and have decided to add the prefix ‘syn-‘ to another Greek word: συνεργός. Synergy means working together and in our case means being in a window of time together and encountering each other’s parallel processes within that frame. Thus working in different locations across Europe, we have shared a time and a process. Our project explores the radical potential of ‘synchronous’ rather than ‘contemporary production’. In order to fracture ‘the contemporary’ and perform a reversal of established power/cultural dynamics we have turned our gaze to the past, to the ancient Greek myth of Prometheus as a source of ancient imagery, and complex narratives about knowledge, power and gender.

Angeliki Avgitidou:

For Peachy Coochy I will be discussing synchronicity in relation to recurrent notions in my own work such as repetition, connections in time, space and memory, the impossibility of returning, loss and cancellation.

Stella Dimitrakopoulou:

The notion of the contemporaneity relates to time and more specifically to simultaneity. In order for one to be contemporary one must be acting in present time and concurrently one must have the ability to understand and analyse what is taking place around them and what they are a part of. This understanding to the notion of contemporaneity includes a contradiction, a paradox, which lies in the impossibility of understanding and analysing an action at the same time to which the action is taking place; an understanding to which we could associate to the Uncertainty principle of Werner Heisenberg. In this regard I am not intending to conclude to the unfeasibility of the notion of contemporaneity. In order to avoid that it is required to take a different approach towards the notion of time, instead of the one that disconnects the past from the present and the future. Copying, repetition and reconstruction in the performance arts interrogate those links offering a field for the coexistence of acting, understanding and analyzing.

Sozita Goudouna:

The peachy-coochy will present “Eleventh Plateau,” a project that examines a meticulous kind of compositional practice in which the machinery of nature and the machinery of art and scenography become one, in the expanded field of eleven different “sites‐terrains” in the Is/land of Hydra and the uninhabited island of Dokos (Ancient Aperopia). With the collaboration of architects, environmentalists, archeologists, artists and community involvement interdisciplinary practice and discourse on the subject of perceptual ecologies, eco‐aesthetics, landscape reconstruction and its meaning for traditional cultural heritage was instigated. The project is engaging meditation on landscape, zoology (animal/human interrelations), land art and shifts in the expression of theatricality and the representation of nature. The presentation outlines the ways in which the collaborators of Out of the Box Intermedia draw on scientific/technological and eco‐philosophical developments to explore temporal and spatial interrelations, new forms of art interventions and to unfold the wide range of disciplines, theoretical, and artistic positions that comprise the relationships between spectator/scenographer, event/scene, intervention/cultural production and artist/scientist. For more information please visit: (http://www.outoftheboxintermedia.org).

Medie Megas:

At present, I am in the process of creating a new piece entitled “Metapolitefsi”. In a dance context, the sheer directness and literal nature of this title produces a kind of terror. Ιn fact, this title plays an important role. For the viewer, it functions as a prism that diffracts every image, every instance of the performance, evoking a complex interplay of associations and memories. Body memories in particular. The projected images I will use for the presentation are actually frames of a video made by visual artist Alexandros Mistriotis, that Ι saw about a year ago. On seeing it I realised that it clearly gives shape to one of the key concepts of the dramaturgy of “Metapolitefsi”*, the concept of ‘transformation’. I understand ‘transformation’, as a process that is continuously happening in the present and this is how I link it to the theme of this cluster and to the notion of ‘synchronicity’. The individual is both subject and object of the transformations that a society or nation undergoes through history. People, ‘synchronous’ to each other, create a reality and are, in turn, shaped by it. My presentation will move from the concept of transformation, to the concept of identity, from there to the forever changing nature of ideas and finally to history itself, as an act of the present.

* ‘Metapolitefsi’ [The period in Greek history after the fall of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 that includes the transitional period from the fall of the dictatorship to the Greek legislative elections of 1974 and the democratic period that followed.-Wikipedia]

Eilon Morris:

(Rhythm in Psychophysical Actor Training: Dancing Fractal Time)

We can understand performance as occupying a field of simultaneous events unfolding in time and space. These events are coordinated both within an individual performer (i.e. simultaneously I speak, move my arms, shape my attention, and breathe) and within a group of performers (I walk, as she speaks, while he dances). At times the rhythms of these events are synchronised into a single pulse stream (a chorus speaking in one voice, a dancer moving to the rhythm of a drum). But most often these relationships synchronise in more complex ways, with events spanning varying intervals of time nested within each other. How does a performer cultivate the awareness and capacity to act effectively within such complex emerging landscapes, and can rhythm be used as a primary tool to support such processes? Drawing on my knowledge and experience as an actor and musician, and through research into the work of Nicolás Núñez, John Britton, Reinhard Flatischler and  Suzie Vrobel, I have developed a collection of training forms which look to address these questions. In this presentation I will share some graphic scores of these training forms (known as ‘Orbits’) and describe some of the pedagogical processes used in leading them.

Katerina Paramana:

Starting from the definition of synchronicity (with / together + time) from the symposium’s theme as a ‘coming together’ I suggest the understanding of synchronicity through my work as the coming together of thought between the spectator and the work: a coming together that does not imply necessarily an agreement, but a togetherness in meaning construction in the time and space of the performance event and beyond it. This is an act that requires a certain effort, a certain type of work: thinking together now, in relationship to our world now, questioning and making meaning together across time. This presentation, as my work in general, functions as a gesture. The spectator is invited to read the relationship amongst the elements of the presentation constructing meaning across them.

Xristina Penna:

My presentation refers to my recent cycle of work, the aswespeakproject.  the aswespeakproject creates performance and installation work that engages with the reality of living in an urban landscape and its impact on our ability to process information and attempt expression. Specifically, I will focus on the following proposed question: ‘How does the notion of encounter (in the sense of a shared time between people) help us address issues of spectatorship, individuality, alterity and collaboration, dialogue and exchange in performance and performance studies in the current moment?’

Anna Tzakou:

(Ymittos or how do you relate with the spirit of things)

‘I decided to do a practice session outdoors. I went to Υmittos Mountain, located east from the city, most of it rocky and deforested. The mountain worked as a limit of the city, a part of its skin. In an adequate distance but not too far out, I was looking at the city and it was as if I was looking inside of me. The outer space became me. The mountain became a meeting point of the micro and the macro world….’ (from practitioner’s journal)

This presentation aims to display contradictions and obstacles occurring from a performance practice research in Athens. Ymittos project investigates issues of the research work (the relationship of the inner and the outer, the form and the content, the process and the product) and of its interrelation with the social, cultural and physical landscape of the present moment. This presentation refers to resolutions evolved through the process, their creative and perceptual impacts and the new creative and interpretive directions occurring to the research.

Adonis Volanakis:

(the synchro-kissing therapy or hope you ‘ve brushed your teeth)

I kiss you like a brother

I kiss you like a father

I kiss you like a lover

I kiss you like a fucker

I kiss you all the way

Playing contemporaneity through an exercise/performance/game in collaboration with spectators/ participants/witnesses with interchanging but synchronized roles through images of artist’s portraits or works with visible or invisible teeth that have kissed me in many ways in my art practice.