being surface


  • Despina Zacharopoulou Performance artist/Academic



performance-as-philosophy, philosophy-as-embodied-praxis, surface, violence, flesh, economy, intensities, feedback loop, difference and repetition, corporeal trace, phantasm, intra-action, entanglement, care, intimacy, vulnerability, affectability, risk, trauma, philosophy-as-a-way-of-life, protreptic, Body without Organs, spasm, marks, eternal return, ethics, parrhēsia, attunement, bashfullness, hysteria


This paper problematizes the ways in which performance art might be philosophy, and vice versa, that is; how philosophy might operate as embodied praxis and method. The main hypothesis adopted is based on the argument that philosophy, though predominantly thought of as a rational ideological construction, is essentially an invitation towards change and a method on how to lead one’s life (Hadot 2001, 148). This position has been stressed by philosophers Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault, who revisited ancient Greek philosophy in order to indicate how corporeal practices and techniques might operate as methodologies towards "new forms of life" (Rabinow 2000, 164). Foucault was particularly interested in the Cynics because of their visceral approach to philosophy as expressed by their "radical asceticism" (Foucault 2011, 167), that stood as an indication for a life which is radically other (Foucault 2011, 269-270). It is in that respect that one should also look at Foucault’s engagement with the gay leather scene; as a laboratory (Rabinow 2000, 151) towards a  "[...] possibility for creative life" (Rabinow 2000, 163). In light of the above, this paper discusses Despina Zacharopoulou's performance works in order to investigate how performance strategies related to violence might suggest a radical re-thinking and revisiting of philosophy as embodied practice and method towards a life-as-surface, that is; a life experienced in its full intensity and in pure joy.

Author Biography

Despina Zacharopoulou, Performance artist/Academic

Dr Despina Zacharopoulou is a performance artist, theorist and academic, born in Arcadia, Greece, currently working between London and Athens. Despina recently completed her practice-led Ph.D. in Philosophy & Fine Art (Performance) at the Royal College of Art, London (Onassis Foundation scholar), supervised by Prof. J. Golding (Primary) and Prof. N. Rolfe (Second, 2015–2019).

Her practice investigates performance art as surface, and philosophy as embodied practice and method towards a life which is radically other. Her work has been presented at events of global impact, e.g.: AS ONE by the NEON Organization & the Marina Abramović Institute (Athens, 2016); London Frieze (2016, 2017); A Possible Island? By the Marina Abramović Institute & the 1st Bangkok Art Biennale (Bangkok, 2018-19), etc. Press/Publications include articles in: New York Times, The Nation Thailand, Liberal Newspaper Greece, The Art Newspaper Greece, etc. Dr Zacharopoulou is a Niarchos Foundation ARTWORKS Fellow (2021) and holds the position of the Course Leader of the Contemporary Art Summer School at the Royal College of Art in London.


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How to Cite

Zacharopoulou, Despina. 2022. “Being Surface”. Performance Philosophy 7 (2):111-40.