Relation and Participation: Approaches to Performance

  • Adam Alston (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Audience Participation & the Aesthetics of Risk

One-on-one performance festivals have exploded onto the London fringe theatre scene in recent months. I will question whether or not a politically engaged theatre emerges from immersive and participatory one-on-one encounters by looking at what “risks” might be involved for both performer and audience – failure, embarrassment, awkwardness, threat, responsibility and uncertainty – and ask whether the “risky” encounters on offer at BAC, Theatre Delicatessen, and Sprint festivals might prompt a reflexive questioning of politically anchored affective responses. Taking as a point of departure Hans-Thies Lehmann’s call for an “aesthetics of risk”, I will apply Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics as both a methodological and conceptual means of approaching one-on-one performance, focusing not on content, nor a participant’s experience, but the potentially discomforting and politically charged relations between performer, audience, and mise-en-scène, which might produce a refreshingly “risky” encounter. My suggestion is that the “alternative social models” in “concrete” aesthetic space, which Bourriaud claims of the artwork as an “interstice”, are ripe for consideration in terms of precariousness and uncertainty (as opposed to “antagonism”). I will conclude by posing provocations for further research geared towards the relationship of aesthetic to social space within the contemporary capitalist context of a (global) “risk society”.

Relation and Participation: Approaches to Performance, Aberystwyth
Period2 May 2011
Event typeConference
LocationAberystwyth, United KingdomShow on map