Ek-static historical experience: performance, antiquity, artefactuality
In 1765, the young Johann Gottfried Herder stood before a feast of St. John near Riga, contemplating what he described as “living remains” of “ancient savage songs, of rhythmic movement and dance still present in a people living now.” This paper will address the problem of a performance history of philosophy, grounded in the mythopoetic contemplation of the ‘past’ and its lost events. Performance events, as we know from Peggy Phelan, are ineluctably present; yet as Rebecca Schneider has suggested, they also remain – recuperated, rehearsed, reperformed, renewed in the constant becoming of remembrance. But the myth of ancient history and of a performative antiquity has underpinned Performance Studies from the start, through reference to rituals and putatively ahistoric ethnographic lore, suggesting a mythic return to a radical state of theatricality before bourgeois corruption gave way to the proscenium stage. I will argue that far from losing this narrative myth of origins in the eruption of current writing in the field, Performance Studies continues to stand ek-statically outside the ‘past’, while tallying up references to the trace, the document, the archive.
Kélina Gotman is Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies in the Department of English at King’s College London, and a founding Core Convenor of Performance Philosophy. She is translator of Félix Guattari’s The Anti-Oedipus Papers (Semiotext(e)/MIT Press, 2006), and translator and author of articles and chapters on philosophy and dance, science, aesthetics, contemporary art and opera. She has taught cultural and critical theory, literature and performance at Columbia University, Bard College and the Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts at The New School. She received her PhD in Theatre from Columbia University and her BA in History from Brown and Oxford. She has collaborated on over two dozen productions in the USA, the UK, Canada, France and Belgium as an actor, director, dancer, choreographer, translator, writer and dramaturge, including a commission with the London Sinfonietta to develop a songless opera drawing on anarchist philosophy, capitalism, terror, and the writings of Walter Benjamin, 100 Combat Troupes (Village Underground, 2012).