Joints and Strings: Body and Object in Performance


  • Esa Kirkkopelto University of the Arts Helsinki



deconstruction, object-oriented ontology, post-humanism


This article concerns the ontological status of the performing body. What if it were not considered derivative in relation to any kind of discursive construction or any kind of pre-existent materiality or force? What if it were taken as a starting point of our attempts to understand the linguistic and material aspects of our bodily co-existence? If so, our ideas of what a body can do while performing, and what it consists of, have to change radically. The anatomy of the performing body is studied through a series of scenic experiments and practical examples, and the argumentation rests on the evidence thus provided. On the philosophical level the discussion focuses on ’object-oriented ontology’ and its representatives. The indications are that our understanding of objects, objectivity and things in general is based on our understanding of bodies as linguistic entities. Becoming a performing body means becoming a linguistic body, and vice versa. This does not take us back to ‘transcendentalism’ or ‘correlationism’, however. The equality of all things, claimed by ‘ooo’ proponents, can only be achieved via the medium of the performing body as an equalizing instance. 

Author Biography

Esa Kirkkopelto, University of the Arts Helsinki

Esa Kirkkopelto is a philosopher, artist-researcher, performer, former theatre director and playwright, convener of Other Spaces live art collective. Since 2007, he has been working at the Theatre Academy (University of Arts Helsinki) as professor of artistic research. His research focuses on the deconstruction of the performing body both in theory and in practice. Since 2008, he has conducted a collective research project “Actor’s Art in Modern Times” on the psychophysical actor training. He completed his PhD in philosophy in 2003 at the University of Strasbourg. Author of Le théâtre de l’expérience. Contributions à la théorie de la scène (Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne 2008). He is a core convener of Performance Philosophy, a member of the editorial board of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and the convener of the “International Platform for Performer Training” which gathered for the first time in Helsinki in January 2014.


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How to Cite

Kirkkopelto, Esa. 2016. “Joints and Strings: Body and Object in Performance”. Performance Philosophy 2 (1):49-59.