Shimakawa, Karen (New York University, USA)

Being Aside: Performative Discomfort

My project considers the productivity of discomfort  — both performances that discomfort, and performances of  discomfort — and the affective impact of proximity . I am interested in how performances of nearness (especially to “difference”) can elicit dis-ease, a sense that (I argue) can be politically and aesthetically generative. In Infinitely Demanding , Simon Critchley has proposed “an ethics of discomfort [. . .] based on the internalization of an unfulfillable ethical demand.” I ask: how might being uncomfortably close pose an unfulfillable demand, and what might performances of such closeness tell us about “how multiple singular senses of the world are mediated through the aesthetic, understanding that friction, tension, strangeness, and discomfort are not necessarily obstacles but, perhaps, useful paths towards a notion of plurality that holds on to the singular”?

Here I examine two sites: U.S. accent/language employment discrimination cases (where the

discomforting presence of a “different” language serves as a basis for sanction) and the work of New Yorkbased playwright Young Jean Lee (whose theatrical deployment of “race” often “inappropriately” sites racial identities to provoke discomfort and  pleasure). My objective is to consider how aesthetic mediation operates in each to generate the tensions and pleasures of being-against, being-with, or being-aside.

Karen Shimakawa is the Chair of Performance Studies in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and an Adjunct Instructor in the NYU School of Law. Her research and teaching focus on critical race theory and performance.

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Ce contenu a été publié dans Abstracts, et marqué avec par Flore Garcin-Marrou.

Pour citer cet article : Flore Garcin-Marrou, "Shimakawa, Karen (New York University, USA)", Labo LAPS 2014. URL :

A propos de l'auteur : Flore Garcin-Marrou

Flore Garcin-Marrou est docteur en littérature française (Université Paris 4 – Sorbonne). Elle a enseigné les Études théâtrales à la Faculté libre des Sciences humaines de Lille et à l’Université Toulouse Le Mirail. Sa thèse s’intitule "Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari : entre théâtre et philosophie". Elle est l’auteur d’articles sur le théâtre au carrefour des sciences humaines. Elle est également metteur en scène de sa compagnie "La Spirale ascensionnelle" et poursuit un travail d’expérimentation théâtrale au sein du Laboratoire des Arts et Philosophies de la Scène (LAPS).