Entided, enwatered, enwinded: human/more-than-human agencies in site-specific performance

Donald, M. (2014) Entided, enwatered, enwinded: human/more-than-human agencies in site-specific performance. In: Schweitzer, M. and Zerdy, J. (eds.) Performing Objects and Theatrical Things. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, pp. 118-131. ISBN 9781137402448

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Publisher's URL: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/performing-objects-and-theatrical-things-marlis-schweitzer/?K=9781137402448


The essay considers the entanglement of more-than-human agencies enacted in contemporary site-specific performance, reflecting on the qualities, potentialities and limitations of notions of agency in this context. Ascribing vitality or agentic properties to nonhuman ‘performers’, I argue, unsettles concepts of site as static or circumscribed, and of materials as inert, allowing fresh and inspirational perspectives on human-environment interdependency to emerge. Extended notions of agency and of site are explored through describing and reflecting on two site-specific performances that I devised collaboratively on, with and for the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The two performances, Bridging Part 1 (November 2010) and High-Slack-Low-Slack-High (April 2012) unfolded as complex interplays between human and other-than-human performers. Both invited contemplation on the changing role of the River Clyde in Glasgow and the shifting forms of human-environment interaction that different historical phases represent. The two works are theorized using conceptions of material agency and vitality proposed by anthropologist, Tim Ingold and political theorist, Jane Bennett. Ingold’s notion of ‘meshworks’ offers a dynamic model of dispersed agency where the attributes of various types of agency are recognised, without privileging one over the other. Bennett’s advocacy for an inherent vitality in non-human matter provides a lens that de-centres human subjectivity. Considered in these terms, I propose, the two works might be understood as productive ecological paradigms, which manifest fluid and generative interrelations between other-than-human environment and human participants, river and city, ‘nature’ and ‘culture’.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Donald, Professor Minty
Authors: Donald, M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan

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