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Spatial performativity: what happened when we lost space?

9th December 2021 @ 10:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Panel 64 convened by Dr Nevena Mrdjenovic

9 December 2021, 10:00pm (AEDT), Online 

At AAANZ 2021 Conference convened by The Power Institute and Department of Art History, University of Sydney

8-10 December 2021, Online.


For the three day AAANZ 2021 Conference “IMPACTDr Nevena Mrdjenovic has convened this panel on Spatial performativity with presentations by Professor Stephen Loo (UNSW School of Art and Design), Dr Renato Bolelli Reboucas (Laboratory of Performative Practices / University of Sao Paulo + UAP art platform) and Kate Brown (Artist who works as a technician at MCA, AGNSW, MAAS) who will be presenting on her artwork exhibited in CRiSAP’s online exhibition Acts of Air: Reshaping the urban sonic.

Spatial performativity: what happened when we lost space? An empty space does not exist. All spaces are mise en scenes previously inscribed with traces of past and present narratives and events, notions of performativity and transformation. They also contain already established signals for future encounters. Space is thus always active. Conceptually speaking, space exercises its own agency and effect. It is performative, just like it allows for a performance to take place in it. In 2020, we collectively witnessed a wide range of spaces being emptied. At this unique moment of history, when we temporarily lost physical access to most spaces, the nature of spatial performativity changed. Public spaces suddenly became stages of newly devised choreographies, gestures, costumes, and scripts. Private spaces, on the other hand, emerged as virtually public mise en scenes of our active daily performances. This panel is interested in exploring contexts in which these events have affected spaces of and for performance. Did we lose the spatial performativity in this period? Or has it become active through the sound absence of human performers? Did we gain a new heightened sense of performativity? Did all spaces become more performative than ever before?


No stimulation; when the hussle stops.

By Kate Brown

In the peak of the first pandemic lockdown, the world started turning to artists to comment on the changing environment with no stimulation or form. Public/urban spaces in particular became opportunistic sites or locations for potential performance actions. In June 2020, I presented a project for CRiSAP’s University of the Arts London’s Acts of Air; reshaping the urban sonic curated by Lisa Hall. ‘An online exhibition for offline participation with 14 relational sound art works that offer a means to explore and interrogate our cities of sound’. I’d like to share reflections/participation of At the Guts of it at the AAANZ conference. At the Guts of it is an instructional vocal score to be performed in a place of echo. Filmed and scored on location in a walkway tunnel under the Gladesville Bridge. I capture the vocal whir of the site, where the tunnel under the bridge collects the sounds of the machines driving and flying overhead. Within the performance instructions pedestrians became the performers, engaging in an interactive solo vocal piece. Acts of Air activated urban spaces, creating an international dialogue across urban sites replicated all around the world; in a sound simulacra.


The sound of eating, the space of justice

By Professor Stephen Loo

The Butcher of Nang Lerng is an ad lib (Latin meaning “at pleasure”) food-acoustic performance at Buffalo Field Festival 2019 in Bangkok, as an attempt at achieving spatial justice for the community of the city’s famed gastronomic centre dispossessed by gentrification. The performance occurred at the same time as city spaces were occupied by masses performing protests calling for governmental and monarchical reforms. And round the corner in time was a catastrophe which would eventually evacuate almost all performances of celebration and resistances from public spaces into the interstices of homes, bodies and psychologies of the citizenry. This performance lecture critically ruminates on the spatiality of politics in an art-performance on the politics of lost space. Central to the argument is the Deleuzian concept of jurisprudence that is itself spatially performative, through a reading of an aphoristic passage in his Logic of Sense on the relationship between ‘to think’ and ‘to eat,’ accompanied by a soundtrack of The Butcher, in a time when normative public expressions of justice is difficult.


Poetics of Destruction: a scenographic perspective from the South

By Dr Renato Bolelli Reboucas

This proposal investigates the performative power of places, objects, and residual materials, taking creative destruction, renovation, and the clutter of discarded materials as characteristics of a “poetic of destruction,” covering a trajectory of site-specific experiences conducted between 2009 and 2019 in Manchester and Salford (England). From the Brazilian reality, I present the concept of scenography expanded from a Global South approach to formulating this poetic built between ruins, rubble, and remains taken in their narrative powers as a starting point to construct performative situations in transdisciplinar languages (scenographic installations, performances). This “trilogy of destruction” offers a perspective and repertoire to reflect a southern scenographic epistemology.

Read the full information about this panel


AAANZ 2021 Conference “IMPACT”,

8-10 December. Convened by The Power Institute and Department of Art History, University of Sydney.

From pressing questions of social justice and equity to a pandemic that has exposed our frailties and our connectedness, from the questioning of the very fundamentals of what we practice in Universities, Museums and as visual artists or designers to the crisis of artistic lives engendered by social and economic conditions. Our conference explores these multiple local impacts, alongside art and visual culture’s response to tremors and shocks across many other cultures and timespans.

The Conference Organising Team – Donna West Brett, Mark Ledbury, Ira Ferris and Nick Croggon.

Read the full AAANZ21 conference schedule


9th December 2021
10:00 pm - 11:00 pm




AAANZ Conference
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