From Performance through Narrative to Interconnected Subjectivities

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This chapter explores the ways in which dance in general, and Emilyn Claid's No Bodies Baby (2002) in particular, can open up spaces for interconnected subjectivities by playing with ambiguities and narratives. I am claiming that seeing subjectivities as interconnected, as related to and dependent on others, implies an ethical engagement with the world implicit in an ecological consciousness. By an ecological consciousness I mean one that is responsibly aware of the necessary interdependencies of what Felix Guattari terms ‘the three ecological registers’ – ‘the environment, social relations and human subjectivity’ (2000: 28). Guattari reminds us that the etymology of ‘eco’ is the Greek word oikos meaning ‘home’ (ibid.: 4), which, for me, provides the traditional setting or space of the hearth (synonymous with ‘home’ in some languages) for the telling of stories. Notions of ‘home’ and ‘stories’ in some senses suggest the interdependency of self, other and the environment that is fundamental to an ecological consciousness. So, given the important role of narratives within No Bodies Baby, it is not surprising that the interconnected subjectivities of the piece can be claimed as implicit in an ecological consciousness.

No Bodies Baby was created as part of the Embodying Ambiguities research project (2001–2004), which through writing and performance-making explored the ambiguities of differently configured spatialities, temporalities and identities. This embodiment of ambiguities is foregrounded in the piece through the differences of its fivemember cast and how these are played with and explored through their stories and encounters that constitute the show. The ambiguous play between sameness and difference evident in the embodied narratives of No Bodies Baby resonates with theories of narratable selves developed by the feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero. She claims that ‘from birth, everyone […] shows who he or she is to others’ and that ‘the expositive and the relational character of identity are thus indistinguishable’ (2000: 20). In other words, she is claiming a doubleness for subjectivity that, through narratability, involves an individuality of exposition but also a self that relates to others.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Performing Nature
    The essays in this volume explore the borderland between ecology and the arts. Informed by psychoanalysis and cultural materialism, contributors to the first part, 'Spectacle: Landscape and Subjectivity', look at ways in which particular social and scientific experiments, theatre and film productions and photography either reinforce or contest our ideas about nature and human-human or human-animal relations and identities. The second part, 'World: Hermeneutic Language and Social Ecology', investigates political protest, social practice art, acoustic ecology, dance theatre, family therapy and ritual in terms of social philosophy. Contributors to the third part, 'Environment: Immersiveness and Interactivity', explore architecture and sculpture, site-specific and mediatised dance and paratheatre through radical theories of urban and virtual space and time, or else phenomenological philosophy. The final part, 'Void: Death, Life and the Sublime', indicates the possibilities in dance, architecture and animal behaviour of a shift to an existential ontology in which nature has 'the capacity to perform itself'.
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