The purpose of the biannual CARPA colloquia is to contribute to the development of artistic research practices in the field of the performing arts and to foster their social, pedagogical and ecological connections. The fourth Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts, CARPA 4, took place at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki on 11 and 12 June 2015, with the following title: THE NON-HUMAN AND THE INHUMAN IN PERFORMING ARTS – BODIES, ORGANISMS AND OBJECTS IN CONFLICT. For the fourth time The Performing Arts Research Centre (Tutke) invited artist-researchers to share their work and participate in the meeting. The fourth Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts asked how different practices and techniques in performing arts face the contemporary critique of anthropocentrism. How do they participate in the renegotiation on the role and the limits of the human and what kind of critique does the involvement with the non-human entail? CARPA 4 approached its topic area without specific disciplinary framings, collaboratively, and performatively, in an attempt to support the fruitful meeting of various points of view. It tried to seek common points of contact, resonating surfaces, and rhythmic interferences between its heterogeneous but constituent parts. The colloquium reflected on performing practices from the point of view of their non-human factors. In the call (www.uniarts.fi/carpa4-call-proposals-closed) the organisers asked:
- Whether performance is no longer considered a typically human behaviour, expressing and reflecting the intentions and needs of human beings, but rather a point of encounter and a collaborative relation between heterogeneous elements, components or materials, like bodies, organisms and objects?
- How can human performers find their place within performative arrangements, where the logic no longer serves human purposes? What to do with bodies that no longer are “mine” or “living”?
- In which ways can different life forms in their wide diversity enter the scene of performing arts and deconstruct this scene?
- What kind of objects does a performance consist of? How can a performance create, liberate, or reunite objects, beyond “object theatre”?
- How is the question of the inhuman defined and resolved in each case?
According the vision statement (www.uniarts.fi/carpa4-vision-statement), it is in the performing body that the ecological question of the non-human intersects the ethical, political, pedagogical and juridical questions concerning the inhuman. But how should this intersection be understood and articulated? What consequences does it have for our ways of making, teaching and enjoying performing arts?
The three invited key note speakers, professor Peta Tait from La Trobe University, Australia, professor Timothy Morton from Rice University, USA and professor Boyan Manchev from New Bulgarian University, addressed these topics, and led discussions with the participants during follow-up sessions. (For presentations of the key note speakers, and their abstracts, see sites.uniarts.fi/fi/web/carpa/carpa4 As in the previous CARPA we started the colloquium by a pre-conference workshop, this time held by Annette Arlander, on “artistic research expositions” and the uses of the Research Catalogue. (www.researchcatalogue.net). Moreover, at the eve of CARPA 4 participants were invited by Esa Kirkkopelto to join an informal get together, an Object-Oriented Bring-a-Dish Picnic.
A great thank you is due to all the people involved in the organising of the colloquium, all the speakers, presenters, participants and especially the contributors who have generously shared their work to be published here. We would also like to acknowledge the economical support the colloquium received from Federation of Finnish Learned Societies (TSV).
Many of the presentations at CARPA 4 consisted of workshops, performances or demonstrations and trying to share them in this kind of publication is difficult. Since many of the research projects presented at the colloquium need to be published in peer reviewed journals, it has not been possible for everybody to share their ideas in these proceedings. Of the thirty-three presentations at the colloquium we nevertheless have here material from fourteen presentations, (a paper, a workshop report or some other form of contribution), and they give an idea of the broad variety of approaches.
These proceedings are organised in a chronological order, following the order of presentations at the colloquium, but they do not attempt to give an idea of what actually happened or to report on the discussions, nor are they edited to form a unity. The texts are presented more or less in the form chosen by the contributors, with systems of referencing according to each contribution.
To begin with Leena Rouhiainen presents the context of the colloquium in her welcome speech. Then Esa Kirkkopelto introduces the topic of the colloquium in his Opening Words. The Non-Human and the Inhuman in Performing Arts: Bodies, organisms and objects in conflict: CARPA 4. In her key note lecture Emotional Species Bodies: Intention and Attention within Artistic Form Peta Tait points to the affectice power of performance and contends that closer attention to our embodied emotions is crucial for species survival at this time. Boyan Machev, in his key note lecture Program for Inhuman Theater, Or What is the Desire of the Things? proposes that in order to exceed performance capitalism, contemporary performance has to re-open the general economy of things, and posits a theatre of limitless desire and unlimited subjectivation of things.
In her experimental contribution Ornamentation based upon More-Than-Human-References: Moving Towards an Ecology of Trust Elisabeth Laasonen Belgrano calls for further investigation of transformative processes with/out limits, while No Collective or Lindsey Drury and You Nakai share a documentation of their House Music: A Performance.
Artist-scholars who have visited CARPA before shared the current developments of their work, like Joanne “Bob” Whalley and Lee Miller in their Testing Our Mettle: Accidental Performance and the Agency of the Non-human, or Ludvig Elblaus, Carl Unander-Scharin and Åsa Unander-Scharin with their Workshop: Which scenic subjects may emerge when interacting with machines through vocal and bodily virtuosity? and Vincent Meelberg with his Encountering Metal and Wood. The Double Bass as Collaborative and Resistive Actor in Musical Improvisation.
Theatre scholar Teemu Paavolainen explores, in his Smart Homes and Living Machines: Views from Performative Architecture, everyday performativity as the material intertwining of both human and non-human behaviour, while Dr Malaika Sarco-Thomas discusses possibilities of dance as an ecological practice in Improvising with Twigs and Cells: Paradox in Transversal Practices.
PhD candidate Tanja Beer discusses ideas around contemporary notions of materialism, ecology and agency through the scenographer’s practice in This is Not Rubbish: Investigating Eco-materialism in Performance. PhD candidate Kristof van Baarle, in his paper The performer is absent: spaces of absence in the contemporary performing arts observes that a paradoxical consequence of bringing posthumanism to the performing arts might mean reproducing that which one actually criticizing, while Macklin Kowal, in her Assemblages of Excess, or, Towards a Paradigm of the Leak explores the possibilities of leakage as a theoretical principle and a tactic of performance.
Post-doctoral researcher and actor Anu Koskinen describes her project To the Stage with Foucalt – How to embody the Ecocatastrophe? Doctoral candidates Joa Hug, in Weathering the Body – Handling the body with care?, Simo Kellokumpu in Contextual Choreography: A dance-mat-workshop and Mikko Bredenberg in Scenic Imagination – the actor/performer’s body as a scenic element, describe their workshops and reflect on their experiences during the colloquium in their workshop reports.
The abstracts of workshops, demonstrations, papers and presentations not included in the proceedings can be found online in the book of abstracts. (www.uniarts.fi/en/carpa4-abstracts)
The programme of CARPA 4 can be found here www.uniarts.fi/en/carpa4-programme
Hopefully these papers and reports will inspire the reader to develop or continue with artistic research projects around the topics discussed, and to join us for CARPA 5, which in all likelihood will take place in Helsinki in 2017.