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

Authors

  • Christel Stalpaert Ghent University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2015.1113

Abstract

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.

References

Amory, Dita. 2007. “The Barbizon School: French Painters of Nature.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, March. Accessed 28 May 2013. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bfpn/hd_bfpn.htm.

Arnold, Ron. 1997. Ecoterror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature. Bellevue WA: Free Enterprise Press.

Arons, Wendy. 2007. “Review of Nature Performed: Environment, Culture and Performance, ed. Bronislaw Szerszynski, Wallace Heim and Claire Waterton, and Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts, eds. Gabriella Giannachi and Nigel Stewart.” Theatre Journal 59 (4): 687-689. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/tj.2008.0038.

Bennett, Jane. 2009. Vibrant Matter. A Political Ecology of Things. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Čičigoj, Katja. 2013 “Up to Nature: the Continuation of Ego-Ecology?” Maska 153-154: 38-45.

Foreman, David. 1991. Confessions of an Eco-Warrior. New York: Crown Publications.

Frances Lee, Martha. 1995. Earth First! Environmental Apocalypse. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995.

Fraser, Genevieve Thomson. Preface. “Giants in the Wilderness: A One-Act Play Forestry Chautauqua.” The Drama Circle. Art for Life, 9 July 2008. Accessed 6 August 2012. http://thedramacircle.blogspot.be/p/ecotheater-giants-in-wilderness-by.html.

Gay, Kathlyn. 2012. American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience. Volume 1. Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO.

Guattari, Félix. 2000. The Three Ecologies. Translated by Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton. London: Athlone.

Kelleher, Joe. 2013. “You Promised Me Ten Thousand people.” Maska 153/154: 24-29.

Keller, David R., and Frank B. Golley. 2000. “Introduction.” In The Philosophy of Ecology: From Science to Synthesis, edited by David R. Keller and Frank B. Golley, 1-19. Athens GA: University of Georgia Press.

Latour, Bruno. 2004. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press.

Manes, Christopher. 1990. Green Rage: Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization. Boston: Little, Brown.

Massumi, Brian and Erin Manning. 2009. “History Through the Middle. Between Macro and Mesopolitics. An Interview with Isabelle Stengers.” Inflections 3. Accessed 8 August 2013. http://www.senselab.ca/inflexions/volume_3/node_i3/stengers_en_inflexions_vol03.html.

Morton, Timothy. 2007. Ecology Without Nature. Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press.

Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought. 2010. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Mukherjee, Roopali and Sarah Banet-Weiser. 2012. Commodity Activism. Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times. New York: New York University Press.

Phelan, Peggy and Una Chaudhuri. 2013. “Performance in an Expanded Temporal Field.” Paper presented at Now Then. Performance and Temporality, Performance Studies International conference 19, Stanford University, June 26-30.

Protopapa, Efrosini. 2013. “Diplomatic Bodies. Redirecting, Sidetracking, Deflecting, Bypassing.” Paper presented at the Choreography & Corporeality Working Group of the FIRT/IFTR World Congress, Re-Routing Performance, Barcelona, July 22-26.

Rancière, Jacques. 2009. The Emancipated Spectator. London: Verso.

Rancière, Jacques. 2010. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 2011. Reveries of the Solitary Walker. Translated by Russell Goulbourne. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scarce, Rik. 2006. Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement. Walnut Creek CA: Left Coast Press.

Shackelford, George T.M. and Fronia E. Wissman. 2002. Impressions of Light: The French Landscape from Corot to Monet. Boston: MFA Publications.

Stalpaert, Christel and Karolien Byttebier. 2014. “Art and Ecology. Scenes from a Tumultuous Affair.” In The Ethics of Art. Ecological Turns in the Performing Arts, edited by Guy Cools and Pascal Gielen, 59-87. Amsterdam: Valiz.

Thoreau, Henry David. 1995. Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Mineola NY: Dover Publications.

Van Dyke, Fred. 2008. Conservation Biology: Foundations, Concepts, Applications. London: Springer.

Verdonck, Benjamin. 2008. Werk/Some Work. Ghent: MER. Paper Kunsthalle/Campo.

Downloads

Published

10-04-2015

How to Cite

Stalpaert, C. (2015). The Performer as Philosopher and Diplomat of Dissensus: Thinking and Drinking Tea with Benjamin Verdonck in <em>Bara/ke</em> (2000). Performance Philosophy, 1(1), 226–238. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2015.1113

Issue

Section

Siting Politics