Valeria Graziano: 'Prefigurative Practices', book chapter out now
in Turn, Turtle! Reenacting The Institute: Performing Urgency II
Valeria Graziano's essay 'Prefigurative Practices' is just been published as one of the contributions to Turn, Turtle! Reenacting The Institute: Performing Urgency II, edited by by
Turn Turtle, Turn! Reenacting The Institute is a creative and intellectual analysis of the new turn in the perception and workings of the institutes in the performing arts.
Contributions by Livia Andrea Piazza, Ana Bigotte Vieira, Daniel Blanga-Gubbay, Valentina Desideri, Kattrin Deufert & Thomas Plischke, Juan Dominguez, Nicolas Galeazzi, Jan Goossens, Valeria Graziano, Sébastien Hendrickx, Herbordt/Mohren, Vladimir Miller, Vera Sofia Mota, Ahmet Öğüt, Victoria Perez Royo, Gerald Raunig, Jan Ritsema, Elke Van Campenhout, and Various Artists.
What has become apparent in the last ten years or so is a move towards an engaged re-appropriation of the arts institute in artistic (performance) practices, and a more in-depth collaboration between institutes and artists in rethinking the functioning, the position, and the decision-taking structure of these organisations. Rather than the institutional critique in the field of the visual arts, in the performance sector the institute can often be considered as a focus point for the concerns of diverse players in the field (artists, producers, programmers, union structures), which helps them to address issues that otherwise could only be dealt with in fragmentary meetings and practices.
This book addresses the crisis of the institute within a context of severe economic, political and social crisis. In several contributions in this book, authors refer to the Occupy movement as a major source of inspiration for new ‘instituent practices’, as art theorist Gerald Raunig calls them. His essay deals with a pretty well-known example of such a radical takeover, the Teatro Valle Occupato in Rome.
Whereas the story of Jan Goossens, the former artistic director of the Brussels city theatre KVS, proves how a fundamental re-politicisation can also occur within a relatively large, and (still) structurally subsidised art institution.
A lot of these practices rely heavily on a creative and inspired practice of re-imagineering the workings of the institute, to resort to fiction opens up a field of possibilities. Daniel Blanga-Gubbay and Livia Andrea Piazza, for example, analyse some imaginary organisations created by artists. Art reveals itself here as a site for radical imagination, relatively free from practical constraints, which can help us to re-think artistic and non-artistic institutions. Whereas dramaturg Sébastien Hendrickx examines the power of the ‘as-if’ in a number of projects by young Belgian artists, while at the same time warning against the instrumentalisation of artistic imagination, which can be triggered by the demand for explicit social engagement in the arts. The artist duo Herberdt & Mohren discuss in their turn their participatory art work The Institute, a fictitious entity that relates to site-specific situations.
Other artistic contributions, and rethinking strategies of the institute are from the artistwin deufert&plischke, Juan Dominguez and Victoria Perez Royo, Ana Bigotte Vieira and Vladimir Miller.
In another part of the book the relation between the theatre institute and the educational field is explored. In ‘Strange Love: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institute’, Elke Van Campenhout proposes the concept of the ‘tender institute’ where she proposes critical love and radical embrace of the different other as a pedagogical tool. And in ‘The Silent University’, a project by Ahmet Öğüt the divide between art and institutionalised pedagogy is bridged by suggesting a new structure as a parallel knowledge transfer platform. It is specifically geared towards refugees and asylum seekers. The Silent University stands as an example for the recent trend of artist organisations: organisations founded by artists not to support their own work, but organisations as the (artistic) work itself.
At the end of the book, the focus shifts towards the institute of the commons, as en alternative to the ‘common’ view on how the institute ‘takes place’ in society. Nowadays, more and more art institutions seem to open up a renewed investment in the common, the transformational power of the coming-together of an ‘interest community’. Valeria Graziano proposes the concept of ‘prefiguration’ as a promising conceptual candidate for undertaking an alternative reflection on the contemporary politics of arts. Through his own research project, Nicolas Galeazzi articulates on the commons discourse and the option of commoning principles in the making of institutional frameworks in relation to the propositions of American political economist Elinor Ostrom. The book ends with the case of PAF (Performing Arts Forum) a private owned initiative in St. Erme, France which proposes a radical form of common management of space, ideas and practices since 2006.
Turn, Turtle! Re-enacting the Institute is the second part of the publication series Performing Urgency, commissioned by European theatre network House on Fire. Performing Urgency focuses on the relationship between theatre and politics, and asks: How can theatre engage in contemporary social and political issues without compromising art or politics? What kind of knowledge or impact can art generate that activism and theory alone cannot? What are the processes and methodologies of political theatre today? It aims at a broader discussion of the conditions, aesthetics, concepts, and topics of contemporary performing arts.
Turn, Turtle! Reenacting the Institute is the second part of the publication series Performing Urgency, commissioned by European theatre network House on Fire www.houseonfire.eu
House on Fire is supported by the Culture Programme of European Union. Performing Urgency #2 – Series Edited by Florian Malzacher.