The Performer as Philosopher and Diplomat of Dissensus: Thinking and Drinking Tea with Benjamin Verdonck in Bara/ke (2000)


  • Christel Stalpaert Ghent University


Ecology and activism is a burning issue in theatre and performance studies. However, following the French philosopher Bruno Latour, a radically new encounter with ecology is needed today, if eco-activism still wants to have a future. It seems that, in order to survive, eco-activism and eco-art have to move beyond their narrow and limited anthropocentric perspective. In this paradigm shift, the performer as philosopher – in the sense of a diplomat of dissensus – might play an important role. The Flemish artist and performer Benjamin Verdonck picks up this role of a performer as philosopher. In his artistic tree houses, Verdonck invites passers-by for coffee or tea and gently raises ecological issues. He performs protest as what I call “a diplomat of dissensus”, combining Latour’s writings on contemporary ecology and the function of the diplomat therein, and Jacques Rancière’s writings on dissensus and art in public space. Ecology, for its part, moves into the direction of what Félix Guattari in The Three Ecologies refers to as “the ethico-aesthetic aegis of an ecosophy” (Guattari 2000, 41), a contraction of ecology and philosophy that connects the environmental with a reflection on the psychic production of subjectivity and social relations.

Author Biography

Christel Stalpaert, Ghent University

[email protected]

Christel Stalpaert is Professor of Theatre, Performance and Media Studies at Ghent University (Belgium) where she is director of the research unit S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts and Media). Her main areas of research are the performing arts, dance and the new media at the meeting-point of philosophy. She has contributed to many journals such as Performance Research, Text & Performance Quarterly, Contemporary Theatre Review and Dance Research Journal, and edited such works such as Deleuze Revisited: Contemporary Performing Arts and the Ruin of Representation (2003), No Beauty for Me There Where Human Life is Rare: on Jan Lauwers’ Theatre Work with Needcompany (2007) and Bastard or Playmate? Adapting Theatre, Mutating Media and the Contemporary Performing Arts (2012). She is editor in chief of Documenta, Studies in Performing Arts and Film (Academia Press Ghent) and member of the editorial board of Theater Topics (Amsterdam University Press). She is currently finishing her book on Performing Violent Conflicts and Traumas: Towards an Embodied Poetics of Failure.


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How to Cite

“The Performer As Philosopher and Diplomat of Dissensus: Thinking and Drinking Tea With Benjamin Verdonck in Bara Ke (2000)”. 2015. Performance Philosophy 1 (1): 226-38.



Siting Politics

How to Cite

“The Performer As Philosopher and Diplomat of Dissensus: Thinking and Drinking Tea With Benjamin Verdonck in Bara Ke (2000)”. 2015. Performance Philosophy 1 (1): 226-38.