Our website use cookies to improve and personalize your experience. Our website may also include cookies from third parties like Google Analytics and Youtube. By using the website, you consent to the use of cookies.


CFP parallax: Performative Afterlife

Call for Contributions

parallax special issue: “Performative Afterlife”

If the significance of a work of art or literature shifts according to the itinerary of its transformative re-iterations across time, space and media, so must the terms of its analysis. For many years, a number of important developments in fine art practice, the history of art, and performance studies have been linked, at least implicitly, by a vigorous interrogation of the status of (art)works and identities, traditionally conceived of as stable or objectifiable. This issue of parallax seeks to explore this ongoing reflexion, unfolding across a number of disciplines, academic and otherwise, in the hopes of highlighting practical and ethical implications of performative iterability.

It is possible to distinguish between two broad approaches to problematising the conventional relations between an event and its archive: either by considering the archive to itself be active, inventive, performative, or by questioning the pure presence of the performative event, seeing it as already putting into play its future remains. Contemporary art history and fine art practice have tended to take the first approach, tracing the historicity of archival remains and their transformative migration (through citation, translation and interpretation, etc.). On the other hand, current scholarship in performance studies has privileged the second, shifting its focus from a long-standing infatuation with the impossibility of retrieving the event from its archive to a conception of performance as staging its own afterlife (Warburg, Benjamin), in the sense of an inscription of the future in the present. ‘Performative acts,’ Rebecca Schneider has pointed out, ‘are always reiterative, and as such are already a kind of document or record’ exposed to the coming of time. This concept of an afterlife (Nachleben) that doesn’t necessarily wait for the curtain to fall is related to a notion of the performative as iterability, a ‘rehearsal’ that transforms even as it repeats.

Far from constituting a mere problematic of methodology, this shift in perspective speaks to a concern with the possibility of social transformation. If works of art or literature, as Walter Benjamin suggests, ‘transform with the collective because they live in it,’ they inevitably become the precarious site of history’s perpetual reworking. As one consequence, the concept of afterlife is able to intervene in current debates on participation in its move away from an emphasis on the immediacy of the event in contemporary art and performance practice towards more durational and expansive conceptions of partaking, contributing and sharing. In light of this we are particularly interested in contributions from philosophical, (art-)historical, performance or cultural studies perspectives that enquire into the political and ethical implications of performative iterability and the afterlife of performance as they relate to the deconstructability of institutions, disciplines, archives, works, identities and cultural histories.

The editors invite proposals that speak to, but need not be limited to, the following areas:

–   The performative afterlife of works and artifacts (histories of reception, commentary, translation, citation and reproduction in view of ongoing transformations and dislocations: intermedial and cross-spatio-temporal migrations)

–       Performance and/as document

–       Re-enactment

–       Haunting of past and future

–       Theatricality and rehearsal

–       The concept of afterlife as it relates to Psychoanalysis (deferral/afterwardness)

–       The non-present remaining of events

–       Theoretical engagements with iterability, afterlife (Nachleben), survival (survivre) and related concepts in the work of Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg, Samuel Weber, Judith Butler, Bernard Stiegler et al.

Submission deadline for abstracts: 1st October (early submissions are encouraged)

Final Articles by May 1st.

Please submit abstracts of 400 words and a small biography to the editors:

Swen Steinhauser: [email protected]

Neil Macdonald: [email protected]


parallax is an international peer reviewed journal of philosophy and cultural theory based at the University of Leeds, UK. The journal publishes four themed issues a year. Details of the most recent editions can be found at: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tpar20#.Ut09xvtFC70

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

Skip to toolbar