Topic: ArtDance

Last updated: November 17, 2019

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are seen, for the things that are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Here you are, Black and woman, you are in love with yourself, you are terrifying. They are terrified. The future being female and African. I am kanga – a cloth she wore when the alleged rape took place. In a world where everyone wears a mask, it becomes a privilege to see a soul. Am I a captive of my own thoughts? – Kanye “slave sounds like a choice” “I am going to be me as I am, and you can beat me or jail me or even kill me, but I am not going to be what you want me to be” – Steve BikoWoman more specifically Black women have been lost in history, our stories have been constantly been written for us and today they continue to hold us in the past therefore the making of contemporary performance within the postcolonial African milieu is of essence.

Through using personal narrative and popular cultural media that saturates our our everyday lives as primary material we are then able to develop a politically and socially responsive performance language that enables us to remix and unsettle the power that colonial and postcolonial iconographic so that lie within the African race and gender that ground our contemporary claims of ethnic, cultural and national belonging. Creating a space for ‘doing theory’, in order to consider what might be African and through what rule or conventions that they be named so? Through performance we could contest these assumed cultural, political and social meanings of Africa, what ‘Africanness’ has been ascribed to be within the contemporary globalised world. Within the postcolonial we could engage with these culturally and politically through post dramatic performance as a way to expand the continents global presence and the practices of representations that have held Africa and its image in one singular frame. Performance allows the performers body to pose a question about the inabilities to secure the relation between subjectivity and the body, the frame in which the body and the lack of being that is being promised through it and by it is used and that cannot appear without a supplement (Reinelt, 2003:201).

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Since the 1950s performance has expanded itself through the work of Milton Singer and Victor Turner through the inclusion of cultural performance, rituals, sports, dance, political events and aspects of everyday life this then enabled a political projection of great potential that developed in the 1970s and 1980s (Reinelt,2003:202). John L. Austin underpinned the contemporary philosophical focus that performance and its variations in which he discovers through the case of performativity utterances (Reinelt, 2003:203). Judith Butler tries to tie Jacques Derrida’s critique which insists of the general condition of language is “iterability” with that of Austins theories of the body in order to offer and account of how the norms that govern speech come to inhabit the body (Reinelt, 2003:204). “Bodies are formed by social norms, but the process of that formation runs its risk.

Thus the situation of constrained contingency that governs the discursive and social formation of the body and its (re)productions remains unacknowledged by Bourdieu” (Reinelt, 2003:205). While humans and objects within their environment in every culture always exist in certain communicative, practical and situation contexts which permits a human to be replaced by another or even by an object, mobility becomes the prevailing feature in the case of the human body and the objects from the surroundings when they are used as theatrical signs, Erika Fischer-Lichte says that a human body could be recalled by another and or an objects and so could an object therefore be replaced by another object or human body as their capacity as theatrical signs signify one another (Reinelt, 2003:208). What Fischer-Lichte does is link up experiments from avant-garde period with that of the postmodern attempts to stage the cognitive and perceptual operations of reality construction, the Anglo-American rubric of performance has however employed a means of denying or blurring the differences that occur between theatre and cultural performances.

“The expansionism and equivalencies of this drive have been directly related to the politics of cultural studies: breaking down hierarchies of elite art, recovering the history of forms of performance by including rituals festivals, and other civic events that previously were the province of ethnography or anthropology, and by making visible constructions of race, sex, gender, and class along a range of cultural practices in order to grasp how these intervener rate and interrelate” (Reinelt, 2003:209). This means that some purposes for performance studies and the rhetoric of performativity have more political possibilities than theatricality. It becomes complicating in discourse when the notion of performance becomes visible as Elin Diamond observes performance is “precisely the site in which concealed or dissimulated conventions might be investigated … performativity must be rooted in the materiality and historical density of performance” (Reinelt, 2003:213). Therefore then performance allows us to make visible the micro-processes in which iteration and non-commensurability of repetition within historical context of settlements and practices so that we might stage theatricality and tangible possibilities for unanticipated signification (Reinelt, 2003:213). Reference List: Reinelt, J.2003.


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