PERFORMING THE SELF (currently running)

Transdisciplinary research project (2015-...) by Bojana Cvejić, Marta Popivoda and Ana Vujanović


After the twentieth century has been cast as the century of the self, the question arises of how the contemporary expressions of the self in the public and private domains of social life could be best accounted for. According to a prominent thesis of diverse approaches in social sciences throughout the twentieth century, the self is constructed through performances and technologies that rest on the metaphors of theatricality and choreography. Thus the notable analytical models of the self being constructed through performance include body techniques and habitus (Marcel Mauss, Norbert Elias, Pierre Bourdieu); act and gesture (Michael Bahktin), social roles and performance of the self (Erving Goffman), technologies of the self (Michel Foucault), man as actor (Richard Sennett), and performing identity (Judith Butler). The project investigates the contemporary practices of the self in search of a model that best describes and interprets their current form, basing itself on the contemporary theories of performance, dance and theater.

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(In) the Person of the Author

Ana Vujanović (2012)

Being invited to collaborate on Four Choreographic Portraits by Christine De Smedt, I was immediately intrigued by the cluster of questions that lie behind the project: Why don’t I, an author, involve the personal in my artistic work? Do I resist it? Or, do I hide it? Why?[1] Taking this further, the following questions arise: What does this avoidance result in? In an artwork which is less authentic, less sincere, less credible, less my own? Which is more general, more indifferent, more technical, more a cold speculative construction? What intrigued me in this was not the author as a person; I wasn’t curious to reveal the secret of the personal that supposedly had been hidden – supposedly for a good, personal, reason – by the gesture of exclusion. No, what challenged me was exactly how these basic concerns were constructed in the epistemic and socio-political senses, namely, how the paradigm of art predicated on the expression, manifestation or actualization of a person’s individuality, her will and creative force, has been silently naturalized to the extent that these questions seemed a reasonable concern of an author herself. Indeed, there is no stronger paradigm of art today, and it looks like the personal and authorship are inseparably connected in an organic liaison that renders what we call art as such. The liaison is so smooth that it directly leads to the ultimate question: What is art if not an expression of individual will and creative force? Apart from the last instance, it appears in many variations, and today – when the artist’s name functions as brand, and when she with her individuality and personality is the art product par excellence – it is gaining momentum.

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