Hopeful Acts in Troubled Times: Thinking as interruption and the poetics of nonconforming criticism
Keywords:criticism, phenomenology, continental philosophy, affect theory,
In his work titled ‘Dance Curves: On the Dances of Palucca’ (1926), Wassily Kandisky translates two postures of the German Expressionist choreographer Gret Palucca from photographs into line drawings. The drawings are a study, but they are neither pictorial, nor straightforwardly representational. Staging an encounter between Dance Curves and Hannah Arendt’s investigation into thinking as both an interrupted and interruptive activity, this essay argues for a poetics of appearance as it is constituted by nonconforming acts of critique.
Negotiating conflicts that shape a politics of recognition for criticism which deliberately or implicitly refutes utility, I articulate a process of appearance of meaning with differential relation to modernist concerns for interpretation, dissenting from rationalist and objectivist traditions that have dominated theatre and performance criticism since the Enlightenment. What happens when I disavow the drawings from the images, remove them from the source? Perhaps in such a place, we might find critique as a process of deliberately mishandled translation, as an occupation of an idea shifted elsewhere, as a displacement of meaning. Appearance shapes itself around slippages of attention that depart from the work of performance.
In this essay, I turn to how these slippages fold outwards from the encounter, to the political nexus between performance and its world. In Arendt, I locate a means through which forms of thinking rendered as criticism constitute a resistant poetics to normative modes of paying attention, operating beyond what Bojana Kunst calls ‘the ready-made possibilities of discourse’ (2015, 13) under neoliberalism, that is, the ‘pre-established models of criticality and reflexivity’ to which art and artistic subjectivity often partake (ibid.)
Ahmed, Sara. 2004. ‘Affective Economies.’ Social Text 22 (2): 117–139. https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-22-2_79-117
Ahmed, Sara. 2018. ‘Queer Use.’ https://feministkilljoys.com/2018/11/08/queer-use/
Arendt, Hannah. (1958) 1998. The Human Condition, 2nd edn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Arendt, Hannah.1971. The Life of the Mind: Thinking. London: Secker & Warburg.
Arendt, Hannah.1982. Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226231785.001.0001
Arendt, Hannah. (1964) 2013. ‘What Remains? The Language Remains: A Conversation with Günter Gaus.’ In Hannah Arendt: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, translated by Joan Stambaugh, 1–38 . New York: Melville House.
Barthes, Roland. (1966) 1987. Criticism and Truth. London: Continuum.
Bal, Mieke. 2001. Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Beiner, Ronald. 1982 ‘Hannah Arendt on Judging.’ In Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, edited by Ronald Beiner, 89–174. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Benchimol, Alex. 2010. Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period: Scottish Whigs, English Radicals and the Making of the British Public Sphere. Ashgate: Farnham.
Benhabib, Seyla. 1993. ‘Feminist Theory and Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Public Space.’ History of the Human Sciences 6 (97): 97–114. https://doi.org/10.1177/095269519300600205
Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. London: Zone Books.
Butt, Gavin. 2005. After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance. London: Blackwell.
Butler, Cornelia H., and Catherine H. de Zegher. 2010. On Line: Drawing Throughout the Twentieth Century. New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Coulthard, Glen. 2014. Red Skin, White Markss: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. https://doi.org/10.5749/minnesota/9780816679645.001.0001
Damian Martin, Diana. 2015. ‘Towards of Poiesis of Critical Practice: 1000th LIVE and the politics of appearance.’ Performance Research 20 (1): 96–104. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2015.991594
Dean, Jodi. 2005. ‘Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics.’ Cultural Politics 1 (1): 51–74.
Dietz, Mary. 1985. ‘Citizenship with a Feminist Face: The Problem of Maternal Thinking.’ Political Theory 13 (1): 19–37. https://doi.org/10.2752/174321905778054845
Disch, Lisa. 1994. Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Doyle, Jennifer. 2013. Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822395638
Elkins, James, and Michael Newman. 2008. The State of Art Criticism. New York: Routledge.
Elshtain, Jean Bethke. 1981. Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Felski, Rita. 2015. The Limits of Critique. Chicago: Chicago University Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226294179.001.0001
Fraser, Nancy. 1990. ‘Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.’ Social Text 25/26: 56–80. https://doi.org/10.2307/466240
Fraser, Nancy. 2007. Transnationalising the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Polity.
Funkenstein, Susan Laikin. 2007. ‘Engendering Abstraction: Wassily Kandinsky, Gret Palucca and “Dance Curves”.’ Modernism/Modernity 14 (3): 389–406. https://doi.org/10.1353/mod.2007.0058
Goodman, Dena. 1992. ‘Public Sphere and Private Life: Towards a Synthesis of Current Historiographical Approaches to the Old Regime.’ History and Theory 31 (1): 1–20. https://doi.org/10.2307/2505605
Haraway, Donna J. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822373780
Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Honig, Bonnie, ed. 1995. Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Kandinsky, Wassily. 1926. Point and Line to Plane. New York: Solomon R Guggenheim.
Kandinsky, Wassily. (1926) 1994. ’Dance Curves: On the Dances of Palucca.’ In Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, edited by Lindsay Kenneth and Peter Vergo, 520–23. Boston: da Capo Press.
Kunst, Bojana. 2015. The Artist at Work. London: Zero Books.
Landes, Joan. 1988. Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Lijster, Thijs, Suzana Milevska, Pascal Gielen, and Ruth Sonderegger, eds. 2005. Spaces for Criticism: Shifts in Contemporary Art Discourses. Amsterdam: Annagram Books.
Maslin, Kimberly. 2012. ‘The Gender Neutral Feminism of Hannah Arendt.’ Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 28 (3): 585–601. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-2001.2012.01288.x
Nelson, Deborah. 2017. Tough Enough: Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226457949.001.0001
Phelan, Peggy. 1993. Unmarked: The Politics of Performance. London: Routledge.
Phelan, Peggy. 1998. The Ends of Performance. New York: New York University Press.
Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel. 1998. The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Social. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Ryan, Mary P. 1998. ‘Gender and Public Access: Women’s Politics in Nineteenth Century America.’ In Feminism, the Public and the Private, edited by Joan Landes, 195–222. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Saad-Filho, Alfredo, and Deborah Johnston. 2005. Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press.
Schneider, Rebecca. 2011. Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203852873
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 2003. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822384786
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, and Andrew Parker, eds. 1995. Performativity and Performance. London: Routledge.
Simpson, Audra. 2014. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822376781
Singh, Julietta. 2018. Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822372363
Sontag, Susan. (1964) 2009. Against Interpretation and Other Essays. London: Penguin.
Sontag, Susan. 2012. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964–1980. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Taylor, Dianna. 2002. ‘Hannah Arendt on Judgment: Thinking for Politics.’ The Journal for Philosophical Studies 10 (2): 151–169. https://doi.org/10.1080/09672550210121531
Vickery, Amanda. 1998. The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Young, Iris Marion.1997. ‘Asymmetrical Reciprocity: On Moral Respect, Wonder, and Enlarged Thought.’ In Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy, and Policy, 38–59 Princeton: Princeton University Press.
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal, provided it is for non-commercial uses; and that lets others excerpt, translate, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).