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CFP: How does Performance Philosophy Act? Ethos, Ethics, Ethnography

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The third biennial Performance Philosophy conference

The Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague
Thursday 22 – Sunday 25 June 2017

Keynote addresses:
Suzanne Cusick (USA)
Alan Read (UK)
Miroslav Petříček (CR)
Alice Lagaay and Hartmut Geerken (DE)

Invited dance performance:
ME-SA / BOD.Y / Renan Martins de Oliveira: Let Me Die In My Footsteps
(CR, Brazil, Slovenia)

How does Performance Philosophy Act? Ethos, Ethics, Ethnography is the 3rd biennial conference organized by the international network, Performance Philosophy, founded in 2012. An emerging interdisciplinary field of thought, creative practice and scholarship, Performance Philosophy is concerned with all aspects of the relationship between philosophy and performance, including the ideas of “performance as philosophy” and “philosophy as performance”.
For this 3rd conference, our focus is on how performance and philosophy act, exploring the intersections of notions of ‘acting’, ‘action’, ‘activity’ and ‘activation’ across theatrical, political, behavioural and ethical contexts. Our interest revolves around three domains where different forms of “how” are co-articulated:

1) the “ethos” built into performance and/or philosophy in terms of style, stance or attitude;
2) the different renderings of “the ethical” and “ethics” questioned by performance and philosophy, e.g. virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism, principles of Eudaimonia, postmodern ethics, posthumanism;
3) the ethnographic linkages between performance, philosophy and the regional, cultural and political singularities, differences and forms of knowledge.

These domains return us to the ‘ethos’, ‘ethics’ and ‘ethnography’ of our research, because as Malinowski proposed, “To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behavior and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by which people live, of realizing the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man”.

From the outset, philosophy’s aims have been formulated in close connection to ethics as well as to performative protocols and processes. One of Heraclitus’s most memorable statements, “ethos anthropos daimon“ (usually translated as “character is fate”), proposes that each human life is guided by its own ethos, however unknown or strange to the self/subject. Furthermore, understanding philosophical praxis as an art of living or care of the self is found, as Foucault noted, in Ancient Greece in the quest for Eudaimonia. The arts – Greek tragedy, musical practice, plastic and visual art making – play a significant role in these ethical practices. Interpretations of terms like ‘wellbeing’, the ‘good life’ and ‘care for the self’ however, differ vastly with regard to the roles of intentionality, embodiment, techne, will, fate, social context, happiness, pre-given normative aims, virtue hierarchies, and other values.

However, our conference does not have a purely historical focus. It incorporates systematic views which afford the treatment of recent ethical issues in connection with the arts and philosophy. We consider identity politics, as well as the ‘ethics of care’ in relation both to non-western moral perspectives (Held, Tronto, etc.) and to the encounter with otherness as it might be understood in posthuman and poststructuralist ethics and biopolitics (Massumi etc.). Attention is also paid to the relationship between ethics and music / sound / noise, where the works of e.g. Duchamp, Deleuze, Nono, Beckett, Boehme, and Cage might serve as inspiration for a looser reconfiguration of how audition affords both ethical practice and acts as a mode of performance philosophy. In addition, our conference pays tribute to two citizens of Prague – Franz Kafka and Václav Havel – whose artistic and philosophical contributions to our understanding of human nature have many ethical implications. Their work serves as a model of exemplarity and continues to provide a source of inspiration worldwide.

Our conference also questions the ethos of Performance Philosophy as such. Is there a particular notion of ethics or ethos that applies to the encounter between performance and philosophy? Did performance philosophy emerge from the capacity to maintain a creative tension and non-unification between two different domains or from the capacity to abolish artificial boundaries and produce new values, meanings and styles within a new field? Are there distinct methods for collecting materials from archival pasts as well as the present, establishing the basis for an ethnographic research highlighting the interactions between performance and philosophy? Can these ethnographies serve as behavioural or performative protocols for ‘doing’ philosophy?

The conference welcomes proposals from researchers working in any area of philosophy (analytic, continental, non-western, Ancient, Medieval etc.) and any area of performance (dance, theatre, music, visual art performance, the everyday, non-human, etc.) that addresses issues including but not limited to the following:

Styles, stances, attitudes and values arising within artistic performance and philosophizing;
Performative and philosophical models of care for the self and their implications for performance philosophy;

Opacity and transparency, responsibility and resistance, identity politics and alterity within performance philosophy;

Normality, normativity and individual norms in performance and philosophy;

Ethics as afforded by music/sound/noise;

Posthuman ethics and morality after deconstruction: how performance and philosophy contribute to our ethos with regards to nonhuman entities (animals, earth, the environment etc.);

Wellbeing, flourishing and happiness as an aspect, aim or side effect of performative philosophical endeavour;

Ethics of research in performance philosophy (methodologies etc.);

The way that performance makers scrutinize, grasp and create values, and that artistic questions can result in ethical answers (and vice versa).

Local ethnographies and global issues.

Ethnographies of protest.

Kafka/Havel and the exemplarity of Prague.

The ethical implications of an ethnography of the archive

Call for proposals
The organizers welcome proposals of different formats and lengths.
1. “Standard” conference presentations = 20 minute slots [or 90 min panels] The organizers invite proposals for 20 minute conference talks, or full panel proposals for 90 minute panels (3 x 20 mins presentations, plus 30 min for questions) that address the conference themes.
2. “No paper” presentations = 20 minute slots [or 90 min panels] The organizers invite proposals for 20 minute presentations, dialogues or panel proposals for 90 minute panels (3 x 20 mins presentations, plus 30 min for questions). The constraint on presenters is that they must not read out a paper written in advance. Presenters may use Powerpoint or any other form of visual aid to support their presentation (though any additional presentation materials need to be provided by presenters themselves), but they must not read from a pre-written text.
3. “Doing together… Watching in the midst of doing” = 30 – 90 min workshops proposals
The organizers invite proposals for 30 – 90 minute workshops with the constraint that the majority of the session must involve the physical engagement of the participants in activities. This is not to say that the workshop cannot involve acts of observation or what Allan Kaprow called ‘watching in the midst of doing’ or formats of creative dialogues and discussions (Bohm dialogues, fishbowl conversation, OpenSpace sessions), shared games, substitutions, etc. Likewise, workshops are more than welcome to interrogate the very question of what counts as ‘physical engagement,’ the nature of the relation between participation and observation, the active and the passive and so forth.
4. Performance lectures = 20 minute slots [or 90 min panels] The organizers invite proposals for 20 minute performance lectures or full panel proposals for 90 minute panels (3 x 20 mins presentations, plus 30 min for questions). Combining thinking and doing, this format provides opportunities to foreground processes of knowledge creation, reflect on the act of learning, consider potential pedagogical affects made possible by nontraditional methods of teaching, and many more.
5. Conditions that make possible… = up to 1h50minute slots
Aiming to provide a measure of ad libitum to the conference format and to attend closely to the processes of collective meaning making, this format asks that applicants devise a series of rules or guidelines that will lead participants into an exploration either of the Academy of Performing Arts or other parts of the surrounding area in Prague (random urban locales, river, hills, parks, negative spaces, etc.). Understood as conditions that will make possible generative forays into the spaces within and around the conference venue, these rules and guidelines can take many forms but must play within the following limits:
The localized unfolding of the endeavour must not exceed 1 hour and 50 minutes
Facilitator(s) must develop a method for collating the knowledge produced from the event and a format for sharing the event with the Performance Philosophy network at a later date or at the end of the conference in a follow-up slot
The event’s structure should be flexible enough to accommodate different amount of participants (between three and many)
The conference theme needs to undergird the thinking of the facilitator and should remain visible throughout the event’s duration
For all formats presenters are invited to submit 150-word abstracts, a brief biography (100 words), a chosen format and a note of any basic technical requirements (projectors, white boards, sprung floor, sound system, blackout, two theatres – for 25 and 180 spectators, conference rooms, rehearsal rooms, streets, corridors, cafés available). Full panel submissions should include 150-word abstracts for each of the presentation and a 100-word description of the overall aims of the panel, along with contact information for all participants, and the name of a primary contact.

For more information see the webpage of the conference performancephilosophy.ning.com

Proposals for all formats need to be submitted by Sunday 20th November 2016 (and will be answered by 20th January 2017)
Please email your proposal in one single document to the conference address ppprague2017@gmail.com
Please ensure that you include your surname as the first word in the file name of the document you send.
Please do not send any additional documents beyond the material requested above.

Conference fee
Delegates and presenters will need to pay modest membership dues to attend the conference, these will be:
65 EUR for salaried/waged delegates and presenters
35 EUR for unwaged/student delegates and presenters
These fees are put towards the costs of running the conference and/or towards future PP conferences. The conference is free for participants affiliated to the host institutions.