NEW BOOK :: Toward a Transindividual Self: A study in social dramaturgy

Ana Vujanovic and Bojana Cvejic, Toward a Transindividual Self: A study in social dramaturgy, Oslo – Brussels – Zagreb: Oslo National Academy of the Arts – SARMA – Multimedijalni institut, 2022



Toward a Transindividual Self examines the process of performing the self, distinctive for the formation of the self in Western neoliberal societies in the 21st century. It approaches the self from a transdisciplinary angle where political and cultural anthropology, performance studies, and dramaturgy intersect.

Starting from our concern with the crisis of the social, which coincides with the rise of individualism, Bojana and I critically untangle individualist modes of performing the self, such as possessive, aesthetic, and autopoietic individualisms. However, our critique does not make for an argument for collectivism as a socially more viable alternative to individualism. Instead, it confronts us with the more fundamental problem of ontogenesis: how is that which distinguishes me as an individual formed in the first place? This question marks a turning point in our study, where it steps back into the process of individuation, prior to, and in excess of, the individual.

The process of individuation, however, encompasses biological, social, and technological conditions of becoming whose real potential is transindividual, or more specifically, social transformation. A ‘theater of individuation’ (Gilbert Simondon) captures the dramaturgical stroke by which we investigate social relations (like solidarity and de-alienation) in which the self actualizes its transindividual dimension. This epistemic intervention into ontogenesis allows us to expand the horizon of transindividuation in an array of tangible social, aesthetic, and political acts and practices. As with every horizon, the transindividual may not be closely at hand; however, it is certainly within reach, and the book encourages the reader to approach it.

ISBN 978-953-7372-83-5

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Introduction chapter is available online for free here.

What Do We Actually Do When We … Make Art?

Ana Vujanović (2009)

If the death of art is its inability to attain the concrete dimension of the work,
the crisis of art in our time is, in reality, a crisis of poetry, of ποίησις.
Ποίηις [… is] the very name of man’s doing, of that productive action
of which artistic doing is only a privileged example,
and which appears, today, to be unfolding its power on a planetary scale
in the operation of technology and industrial production.
(Giorgio Agamben, The Man Without Content)

This essay is conceived as a critical overview of the concepts supporting the principles and procedures of work in art, and their numerous and non-linear transformations throughout the history of Western culture. It is, accordingly, established as a kind of introductory assessment of the ways of work and cooperation in contemporary performing arts, without dwelling on their particularities and elaboration of the resulting collaborative modes. Indeed, my intention is not to come up with a universal ‘glossary’, but to critically focus on the concepts much too often taken for granted in the contemporary performing arts world. The central problem is, consequently, outlined from a macro-social perspective: I start from the economic/political contexts, since the 18th century’s Industrial Revolution to the current frameworks of post-Fordism and cognitive capitalism. Against this backdrop I am looking at a number of artistic paradigms which have considerably contributed to the changes in perception of artistic work throughout the 20th century: Benjamin’s concept of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (photography and film); Duchamp’s ready-made; Warhol’s pop art; digital art and (Bourriaud’s) post-production. The anticipated result from thus conceived piece of writing is sharpening of concepts frequently employed within the contemporary art scene – like immaterial work, creativity, practice, cooperation, process, reproduction, intervention etc. – in reference to their origins in Western philosophy, political theory and, particularly, material social circumstances.

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