Text 11 – To Perform


‘To Perform’ considers some of the implications of a sentence by Celan juxtaposing the self’s imposing and exposing as they bear on the tensions of making. Following Celan I suggest that making has no option now but to lay itself open, become abjectly patent. But simultaneously its tactical astuteness has to find ways of carrying this patency away from the appropriating calculative placing language-work of the culture-managing institutions.

To Perform’ takes making-for-art’s intricate ties to movement (to be moved, on the move,   and to move others), and thus its relation to ‘time’ and ‘place’, as setting the terms for an exploration of making as a specific kind of performance.

Under late-modernity the would-be-artist’s ability to perform and thus to move is everywhere framed by the representing institutions that organise art’s spacing and timing. This presents an extreme counter to modernity’s legacy of a homeless performing. Makers are now inducted into a programmed production line of endless performance. As it bears directly on performing’s pledge to become a ‘performative’ of untimely ‘otherness’ some of its effects are considered here.

This pitch towards ‘otherness’  –  a becoming-incalculable  –  draws it into a struggle to separate itself from all the forms of knowledge and languaging (representing) that routinely assemble everyday life. This is the gesture which performing seeks to expose. It is offered as a de-composing com-posing that takes its hybridity and finds ways of suspending, sycncopating, improvising, and playing with and within it. It develops its own idiosyncratic know-how as a de-creating aside from the academy’s encasing knowledges: performing offers itself as the tension of conjunctive-disjunction in which improvisation (the unpredictability of an ever elusive sourcing) always has to take over while contending with the institutional programming of performing within ‘Total Entertainment’ (P. Roth).

On the way into this region of performing, supporting words are drawn from Deleuze, Lacoue-Labarthe, Nancy, Miller, Beckett, Josipovici, Agamben, and Philip Roth.