PSR Performing the Self in the 21st Century; Studies in social dramaturgy

PSR Performing the Self in the 21st Century; Studies in social dramaturgy

Performing the Self in the 21st Century; Studies in social dramaturgy is a research project and a book by performance theorist and dramaturg Bojana Cvejić and cultural worker and performance studies scholar Ana Vujanović.

It is a sequel to their previous transdisciplinary research project Public Sphere and Performance (2011-2012) and the bookPublic Sphere by Performance (Berlin: b_books, (first edition 2012, second edition 2015): The point of departure for that research was the recurrent problem of the public: the eclipse of the public sphere throughout the twentieth century as a marker of the crisis of representative democracy. The theoretical and political perspectives stemmed from the authors’ discontinuous experiences of participation in the public sphere in former socialist Yugoslavia and contemporary Western neoliberalism. The authors proposed an analysis of and discussion about the public – and its discontents – through two main models of mass, collective, and self-performances: social drama and social choreography. In numerous collaborations with artists, theoreticians, and activists in 2011 and 2012, they had closely observed transversal social, artistic, and cultural artifacts and practices: movements, images, laws, habits, and discourses.

Since the time of publishing the first book was the time of mass public protests across the neoliberal world, soon after a new wave of social movements have appeared. They have operated in the zones between the public and the private and reopened the questions of collectivism within an individualist society. Inspired with that new social-political climate, Vujanović and Cvejić in 2015 started researching on Performing the Self in the 21st Century, working in parallel with reconstructing the 20thcentury history of performing the self and projecting its future transindividual prospects.

Over the period of past five years the authors had conducted their individual research and a process of exchange and collaborative work within a few residency programs:

March 2015: Akademie der Künste der Welt, Köln
September 2015: Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart
June – July 2016: Skogen, Gothenburg
November 2016: Wiels, Brussels
September 2018: P.A.R.T.S., Brussels
June 2019: Mobile Academy, Berlin

* * *

In the past fifty years, various studies of the public life in social science, anthropology, literary theory, political philosophy and economics, have cast the twentieth century as the century of the self. In these accounts, how the individual features as a social unit, and how they practice their concern with their own subjectivity in both public and private spheres is often described by the metaphors borrowed from theater and performance, such as social role, man as actor, performativity. In turn, theater and performance studies only sporadically examine how the borrowed terms can contribute to a broader transdisciplinary approach to contemporary forms of individualism and alternatives to it.

Starting from a concern with the crisis of the social, which was followed by the protests in 2011 and new social organizations that sprang from them, the research on performing the self is situated in the context of contemporary European society, which is neoliberal capitalist and democratic. Defined as such that context has a global reach. Yet the authors acknowledge differences between former socialist and capitalist societies in today's European society, as well as those that separate the EU member states from the non-EU European countries. These differences are historical, ideological, and economic, and they manifest in various social registers, formation of the self included. Thus, they have selected different cases they had investigated or participated in, in order to include the contextual differences that account for diverse models of individualism and transindividuation.

During 2019-2020 the authors finalized the manuscript of the book resulting from their research. Its length is ca. 100000 words.

The book whose working title is Performing the Self in the 21st Century; Studies in social dramaturgyis divided in three parts: the first part is dedicated to unfolding the main problematic and methodology of performing the self and its transindividual aspects; the second to the analysis of the current social crisis bound up with individualism, in which we identify models of the individualist performing of the self; while the third part presents transindividuation through several accounts of this philosophical concept which prefigures a practice of performing a non-individualistic self, whereby the individual and the collective co-individuate themselves.





Chapter 1 Possessive Individualist Performing of the Self

Chapter 2 Aesthetic Individualism

Chapter 3 Autopoietic Mode of Performing the Self


Chapter 1 Individuation from Crystals to Humans

Chapter 2 Transindividuation and Solidarity

Chapter 3 Transindividuation as De-alienation

Chapter 4: Performing the Transindividual Self

The theoretical objectives of their book include the following: 1) to promote the method of social dramaturgy, whereby they demonstrate that performance (theater and dance) can offer tools for critically examining phenomena of broad social relevance, such as the individualist technologies of the self in everyday life; 2) to explore how a new transdisciplinary area arises from such a research topic, where neither of the disciplines (dance, performance, social science, critical theory and philosophy) can rely on their own methods alone; and 3) to devise new hybrid concepts that can speak to a wider range of expertise beyond academic readership, including cultural activists, political thinkers and artists within the broad fields of performance and visual arts.

The political objective of their study is to affirm new practices of transindividuation, which can overcome the knot that, in the words of Roberto Esposito, 'ties the failure of socialism with a misery of new individualism'.

The book is currently in the process of publishing. The publisher is Berlin-based publishing house Archive Books. The book is to be released in February 2021.

About the authors

Bojana Cvejić publishes and lectures in philosophy, performance theory, and dance. She studied musicology (BA, MA, University of Arts, Belgrade) and philosophy from which she received a PhD at Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy in London. Cvejić is author of several books, most recently Choreographing Problems: Expressive Concepts in Contemporary Dance and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, available in Slovene and Hebrew too), Public Sphere by Performance, (co-written with A. Vujanović, Bbooks, 2012) and Drumming&Rain: A Choreographer’s Score (co-authored with A. T. De Keersmaeker, Mercatorfonds 2013; third volume of A Choreographer’s Score, available in French too). She teaches at contemporary dance school P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels since 2002, and is Professor of Dance and Dance Theory at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts KHIO since 2017 and Guest Professor of Philosophy of Art at FMK Belgrade since 2016. A co-founding member of TkH/Walking Theory editorial collective (2001-17), Cvejić engages theoretical-artistic research projects, currently an investigation of performance of the self and transindividuality (in collaboration with A. Vujanović and M. Popivoda). In 2013, Cvejić curated the exhibition Danse-Guerre at Musée de la danse, Rennes (in collaboration with C. Costinas). In 2014, she devised a choreography and lecture program titled Spatial Confessions for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Her areas of interest include expressionism in Western (continental) philosophy, social choreography, critique of individualism, and rhythms of intensified work in neoliberalism.

Ana Vujanović (Berlin / Belgrade) is a cultural worker – researcher, lecturer, writer, editor, dramaturge – focused on bringing together critical theory and contemporary art. She holds Ph.D. in Humanities (Theatre Studies) and post-graduate diploma in Culture and Gender Studies. She has lectured at various universities and was a visiting professor at the Performance Studies Dpt. of the University Hamburg. Since 2016 she is a team member and mentor at SNDO – School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, where she also teaches at the MA in International Dramaturgy at the University of Amsterdam. She was a member of the editorial collective of TkH [Walking Theory], a Belgrade-based theoretical-artistic platform, and editor-in-chief of the TkH Journal for Performing Arts Theory(2001-2017). She sometimes participates in artworks (performance, theatre, dance and video / film), as a dramaturge, with artists such as Marta Popivoda, Eszter Salamon, Christine de Smedt, Dragana Bulut etc. She has published a number of articles and books, such as Public Sphere by Performance, with B. Cvejić (Berlin: b_books, 2012) and A Live Gathering: Performance and Politics in Contemporary Europe, edited with L. Piazza (Berlin: b_books, 2019). She currently works on the documentary Landscapes of Resistance, directed by M. Popivoda and her research in landscape dramaturgy.

21.06.19 - 31.08.20

different locations

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