Performance, Photography, Performativity : What Performance 'Does' in the Still Image.

Taylor, Allan S. (2017) Performance, Photography, Performativity : What Performance 'Does' in the Still Image. Doctoral thesis, University of the Arts London and Falmouth University.

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Abstract / Summary

Auslander (2006) states that images generated from performance documentation and practices stemming from performance to camera could be considered ‘performative’ if they are meant to be seen as happening in the ‘now’ they are viewed, with the spectator as the current intended audience. This thesis takes Auslander’s supposition and situates the term performativity within an established academic discourse as a social, political or cultural ‘doing’ and questions what, apart from performing, performance ‘does’ in its transcription to a photographic image. I propose a ‘doing’ occurs because the intentional performance of a given act invokes the power of citation, in turn setting in motion broader cultural references. The contribution to knowledge this thesis makes is the proposition that aspects of the agency of performativity cannot be fully present in the moment of performance, but can be subsequently revealed by the photographic image as it affords the différance [distance/deferral] the spectator requires to consider the action within a wider structural unconsciousness.
Originating from a conceptualist tradition of using ‘art as experiment’, the hypothesis is tested heuristically using a practice-based method of performance to camera. This is presented in the manner of autoethnographic fieldwork, which explores the time-based tensions between performance and photography in three different ways. Firstly, through instantaneous performance actions and the subsequent withdrawal of motion in the still image; secondly, the staging of one-off performance interventions and how they are perceived outside of the time and place in which they occurred via the photograph; and lastly, how repetition is used as a visual device to allow the spectator to ‘revisit’ their framework of understanding. By connecting critical reflection of these photographic investigations to theoretical perspectives, each chapter concludes how viewing the performance outside of the live act in the form of a photograph uncovers the ‘doing’ of its performativity.
The final conclusion reviews why performativity surpasses the presence/absence binary previously perceived in photographic documentation, and how we might revise our usage of the term ‘performative’ in the area of performance to camera and studies of performance documentation in the light of these discoveries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance art Photography, Artistic
Subjects: Arts > Photography
Depositing User: Lucy Seale
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 14:12
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:28


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