The Fading of an Archimedean Point

Stage and audience reconsidered




phenomenology, performativity and theatricality, affect theory


Instead of a new “turn” of forms, the current landscape of performing arts is dominated by an immediate demand for political relevance, as well as by a correlative feeling of powerlessness. This can, however, no longer be grasped in terms of an opposition between autonomous and politically engaged art, because the framework of this opposition can no longer apply. Drawing on a distinction between renegotiation of power and desire, and transferring it into the field of performing arts, allows me to address epistemologically the shift we are currently facing. The emergence of new forms, as well as the way they are received, testify to the fading of an Archimedean point, the fading of a point from which to cast an eye on the artistic process of the emergence of forms. Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition becomes then strangely relevant. She advocates the unconditional that comes to the fore with the human condition, while criticizing harshly the utilitarian consequences of the discovery of an Archimedean point in western cultural history. I argue that reconsidering “stage” and “audience” as space of appearance, we can take a stand for that which punctuates the emergence of forms, without considering it from an Archimedean point.         

Author Biography

Marita Tatari, Leibniz Center for Literary- and Cultural Reserach Berlin

Marita Tatari, deputy Professor for Aesthetics at the HMDK Stuttgart, completed her PhD in Philosophy under the supervision of Jean-Luc Nancy in Strasbourg in 2005 and her Habilitation (second thesis) at the Ruhr University Bochum in 2017. She was an Alexander von Humboldt-fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (2018–2019) and at ZfL Berlin (2020–2021). Books: Ästhetische Universalität – Vom fortbestehenden Wir (Metzler, forthcoming); Cum – Weiterdenken mit Jean-Luc Nancy (coed., diaphanes, forthcoming); Kunstwerk als Handlung – Transformationen von Ausstellung und Teilnahme (Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2017); Orte des Unermesslichen – Theater nach der Geschichtsteleologie, ed. (diaphanes 2014); Heidegger et Rilke (L‘Harmattan 2013).


Agamben, Giorgio. 1998. Homo Sacer – Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.

Agamben, Giorgio. 2000. Potentialities. Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.

Agamben, Giorgio. 2016. The Use of Bodies. Translated by Adam Kotsko. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.

Agamben, Giorgio. 2020. “Zur Coronakrise wir solltens uns weniger Sorgen und mehr nachdenken.“ Neue Züricher Zeitung, 7 April.

Agamben, Giorgio. 2020. ” Giorgio Agamben zum Umgang der liberalen Demokratien mit dem Coronavirus: Ich hätte da eine Frage.” Neue Züricher Zeitung, 15 April.

Arendt, Hannah. 1998. The Human Condition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Copjec, Joan. 2015 [1994]. Read my desire. Lacan against the historicists. London: Verso.

Dutent, Nicolas. 2020. “Jean-Luc Nancy : ‘La pandémie reproduit les écarts et les clivages sociaux’.” Marianne, 28 March.

Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality: Vol. 1. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Pantheon.

European Journal Psychoanalysis. 2020. “Coronavirus and philosophers.“

Heidegger, Martin. 2015. “Der Spruch des Anaximander.” Holzwege: Klosterman.

Morton, Timothy. 2017. “Subscendence.“ e-flux Journal 85.

Murray, Jennifer. 2014. “The Inheritance of Potentiality: An interview with Joan Copjec.” e-Rea 12 (1).

Nancy, Jean-Luc. 2010. The Truth of Democracy. Translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. New York: Fordham University Press.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. 2020. La peau fragile du monde. Paris: Galilée.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. 2020. Un trop humain virus. Paris: Bayard.

Nancy, Jean-Luc, and Marita Tatari. 2020. Epochenwende (Gespräch), ZfL Blog VOM GEIST DER EPOCHENWENDE. Marita Tatari im Gespräch mit Jean-Luc Nancy – ZfL BLOG (

Philosopher au présent. 2020a. “Philosopher en temps d'épidémie (3): Invité, Jean-Luc Nancy : Un trop humain virus.“ 18 March.

Philosopher au présent. 2020b. “Philosopher en temps d'épidémie (23): Invité, Jean-Luc Nancy : Le mal, la puissance.“ 8 April.

Santner, Eric. 2016. The Weight of All Flesh: On the Subject-Matter of Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tatari, Marita. 2017. Kunstwerk als Handlung—Transformationen von Ausstellung und Teilnahme. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink.

Tatari, Marita (ed.). 2014. Orte des Unermesslichen—Theater nach der Geschichtsteleologie. Berlin/Zürich: diaphanes.

Wellbery, David. 2004. “Faust and the Dialectic of Modernity.” In A New History of German Literature, edited by Ryan Wellbery, et al., 546–550. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.




How to Cite

Tatari, Marita. 2022. “The Fading of an Archimedean Point: Stage and Audience Reconsidered”. Performance Philosophy 7 (1):51-65.