Performance Philosophy Biennial 2021 Helsinki
Performance Philosophy Problems: How Does Performance Philosophy Collaborate?
What are the problems?
Our times have generated problems, the scope, depth, complexity and ubiquity of which are surpassing traditional procedures for solving them. As the problems we face change in nature so too must our ways of dealing with them. One obvious change concerns modes of organisation: global problems require new modes of collaboration, transversal combinations and inclusiveness, enabling all kinds of agents from different fields to unite their experiences and efforts. At the same time, existing organisations are compelled to rethink their reasons for existence, their values and ways of functioning. Performance Philosophy is not immune to this challenge.
As the alliance between two heterogeneous but deeply interconnected dimensions of practice, Performance Philosophy was born in order to formulate and elaborate problems that neither performance nor philosophy can tackle alone. The very ethos of the association, which gathers together artists, philosophers, researchers, performers, spectators, educators, curators and activists, implies an idea of inter- & transdisciplinary collaboration. Therefore, one might argue that the association is particularly well disposed to face specific problems of our times. But what is the exact nature of these problems and how does Performance Philosophy address them?
The 6th Performance Philosophy Biennial which will take place in Helsinki on 9–12 June 2021, deliberately takes the widest possible scope. Instead of focusing on any specific theme or topic, it simply asks: what kinds of problems does working in the field of performance philosophy lead us to encounter and to articulate, and what tools does it provide to deal with them? The conference invites its participants – artists, philosophers, scholars, artist-researchers and performance philosophers, regardless of any particular genre, school or discipline – to articulate the range of performance philosophy problems, whose treatment calls for dialogue and collaboration between philosophy and the performing arts.
How do we set a problem? One distinctive feature is that it might open up to several possible or effective solutions. Yet no particular response can exhaust or resolve it. Once articulated, the problem does not cease to haunt us. At the same time, in all our doings and undoings, we cannot cease to seek an answer to it. One could argue that all kinds of practices, bodily and institutional arrangements, all modes of behaviour, levels of organisation and existential choices are born as potential solutions to some kind of problem that they seek to address historically and locally but never definitively. A fertile problem, both wicked and benevolent ones, calls for creative thinking and action. Furthermore, problems and arguably solutions have a history. Indeed, solving problems is but one of the many different things we can do with them – we can also intensify them and turn them into aporias (unsolvable dilemmas) or paradoxes (that turn solutions into other problems).
The problems of PP2021 are therefore your problems:
– What kinds of problems in the contemporary world require an interdisciplinary dialogue between philosophy and performance, philosophers and performing artists? How has our way of articulating problems in these fields changed as a result of unfolding global catastrophes?
– What kind of burning or smouldering problems does the contemporary or historical field of performance present to you as an artist, researcher, performer, spectator, educator? What are their philosophical implications and how can philosophy help to deal with them?
– Is there thinking within performance that presents problems that standard philosophy cannot approach, let alone solve? Are there philosophical problems that can only be detected and processed in and through performance philosophy?
Key-groups – no keynotes!
The thematic openness of the conference is matched by its strategic aim: to develop non-hierarchical interaction and self-organisation between participants and to increase inclusiveness. This is why the conference is introducing a new organisational model, in which the habitual “keynote speakers” will be replaced by collective agencies: PPP Key Groups.
PPP Key Groups will be created around a common topic, a “performance philosophy problem”. Each group may consist of artists, scholars, researchers, educators and other experts from within or outside academia. The already existing working groups, also from the other associations, are welcome to apply! The conference will facilitate the functioning of the PPPKGs through a range of practical and financial, direct and in-kind support. In return, PPPKGs are expected to commit to working before, during and after the conference. (For more information, check the forthcoming Call for Participation)
How do we work?
In addition to the problems articulated and addressed in the various PPPKGs, these groups provide an occasion for, and a frame in which, every participant of the conference can observe, and thereby think about, quite practically, how performance philosophy collaborates. Performance Philosophy, as a hybrid from inception, favours alternative and/or collaborative models of working and communication, where people with different kinds of experience, background and expertise meet and unite their efforts on an equal basis to face problems with both philosophical and artistic bearing. Through the PPPKGs, the conference itself wants to provide its participants with an occasion to witness actual research in-the-making in a critical and supportive collective setting. In this regard, the event is strongly inspired by the long-term commitment of art academies in Finland to the development of artistic research.
Besides PPPKGs, the conference also welcomes individual proposals for paper-presentations, no-paper presentations, lecture-demonstrations, lecture-performances, workshops, panels and other interventions fitting with the focus of the event and the given circumstances. (For more information, check the forthcoming Call for Participation)
A conference that strives towards inclusion
PPP Helsinki 2021 seeks to pay particular attention to access: to meet the needs of diverse participants; to take into account cultural and linguistic differences and to provide an environment that ensures a safe and respectful encounter between all participants. With an aim of widening modes of engagement, the event will draw on the benefits offered by new modes of remote and virtual participation, digital performing and philosophizing.
PPP Parallel panels will take place in the facilities of the Helsinki Theatre Academy. Working group sessions bringing together all conference participants will take place right in the middle of Helsinki city, in the Töölönlahti bay area, either in spacious, well-equipped and easily accessible indoor venues, including Music House and Oodi Public Library, or in the open air in the vicinities of those venues, where there is lots of open public space, including parks, squares, lawns and street-life.
In June, the nights in Helsinki are luminous and charming. Every night during the conference there will be social events, Performance Philosophy Parties, involving local artists and activists in informal and inspiring settings, where everyone can come together.