The research group Performance and Cognition of the ICNOVA/NOVA University Lisbon is inviting academics and artists to submit proposals to the International Encounter:

PRESENCE

ABSENCE

INVISIBILITY

10 - 14 OCTOBER 2022

KEYNOTES

ALVA NOË

Heiner Goebbels

PATRÍCIA PORTELA

OPEN CALL

All proposals must have a title + abstract (maximum 250 words) + 6 keywords.

We accept proposals for:
- communications on theory or case studies
- panels or round tables
- performances or other artistic presentations
- mixed formats coming from practice as research, such as performance-conferences
- workshops
- meetings of young researchers
- posters, preferably in video format

If you would like to participate through videoconference, please justify that in your proposal. We strongly encourage physical presence, though absence is part of our theme. 

All proposals will be subject to appreciation by the members of the Scientific Committee, through a double blind peer-review process. Presentations will be in English. Exceptions (e.g. Portuguese) will be considered case by case and might be approved, especially if the talk is accompanied by an English text handed out or a PowerPoint in English. 

Why five days? Because we want to escape the usual rush of academic conferences. The format will depend on the proposals we will receive, but what we are preparing is: Monday and Tuesday for workshops, performances and a round table, possibly as a residence outside Lisbon.
Tuesday night, a film about Presence, Absence, Invisibility.
Some participants might prefer to come only for the remaining 3 days, Wednesday,Thursday and Friday, in Lisbon, for keynote conferences, talks and performances. At the end, a final party.
There will also be opportunities for open mike, chat rooms and other discursive games. 

The best presentations will be selected for publication after the Encounter.

TIMELINE

Proposals

February 28th

Notification of Acceptance

April 30th

Early-bird Registration

July 22nd

Late Registration

September 15th

International Encounter

10 - 14th October 2022

Scientific Committee

Paulo Filipe Monteiro (presidente)
António Figueiredo Marques
Carla Fernandes
Clara Gomes
Cláudia Madeira
David dos Santos
Fátima Chinita
Fernando Matos Oliveira
Juan Albarrán  
Luca Aprea
Maurício Barría Jara
Pedro Florêncio
Renato Ferracini
Sílvia Pinto Coelho
Gabriele Sofia

ATTENDING

Early bird - Payment until 22.07.2022

3 days
General 180€
Students 90€

Late registration - Payment until 15.09.2022

3 days
General 250€
Students 125€

On-site

3 days
General: 300€
Students: 150€

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Questions of presence are central to the theory of performing arts and to the training of performers. Since the 60s, performance art has tried to create scenic alternatives to representative thought(realistic or symbolic) and to dualism (reality vs representation), favouring presence and interaction. This demands a redefinition of the scene but also of theory, art and culture.

Fischer-Lichte (2012) considers three degrees of presence: simple (the body as materiality); energetic (the body intensified by training); and radical (intensified by the collective presence). Presence is not an innate ability: it requires (in the body, not just in the mind)listening, attention, generosity, porosity, dispossession, dramatic and resonant multiplication. Presence is often equalled, or at least connected, to energy and breathing (prana, or koshi). How can we expand this energy in space, work on the magnetic field, transform the body’s weight into energy?

But every presence creates a distance. Derrida argued that presence, in order to be present and self present, has always to start representing itself. “Distance is in the very heart of presence” – a displaced and unstable presence created in the relation to the otherness. The performer is confronted with the often invasive co-presence of other performers, of the director and of the audience. He grows with them, in-between.

Moreover, we can actually place absence and nothingness (instead of presence) in the centre of thought, conceiving it as the first stance both on arts media discussion and social matters problematization (Foucault, Lacan, Žižek): what is not seen and not performed as a primal entrance to tensions and precarity. Hauntology (Derrida) and spectres (already present in Deleuze’s theory), as signifiers of absolute otherness, interrupt the comfortable notions of identity and history. We need to do an historical survey on ghosts, and also a critical approach on the duality visible/invisible, as images and visual mapping of reality came to appear as the other side of social opacity and individual centering on the myth of transparency.

In digital performance, which has exploded due to the new Covid forms of socialization, the concepts of presence, absence and visibility underpin the debates between virtual and real, embodiment and disembodiment, opacity and invisibility, liveness and mediation. The discussion of absence is interdisciplinarily pertinent as a follow-up to the ecologies of liveness, where reproduction enables the live category and where remediation relates to Derridean hauntologies as a means to activate pasts.

In addition, intermediality, as an in-between arena of simultaneities of present/absent, makes ambiguities visible in narratives of power and exclusion, and at the same time can activate both disappearance and what remains. Similar to past remains in the present, ephemerality is contained in identities (marginal and “invisible” performative-social practices become visible in certain communities) in a way that performance persists, and absence is made present. Absence needs to be named –even provisionally – in order to address a conflict between singularities.Presence also depends on visibility and power, as both theories and art works have been highlighting. One might consider that there is an ideology of visibility that makes an “increase in visibility” equivalent to an “increase in power”, ending up fetishizing a difference that does not take into account the real differences: “visibility” of black skin or gender cannot be a precise barometer for identifying a community of similar political, economic, sexual and artistic interests. Some of the performers who sought to inscribe this transformative component in their art used precisely this “power of the invisible”.

WHY ARE WE LAUNCHING THIS ENCOUNTER?

The current covid19 pandemic has a long history, from the black plague in medieval times, understood by Artaud as a paradigm for theatrical subversion, to AIDS, Ebola, bird flu, or SARS-1. But this time the world has stopped globally and nothing can ever be the same again. Social distancing, as a means to live the paradoxes visible/invisible and presence/absence, is in everyone’s agenda today. We can move towards distant, apathetic, fearful, aggressive, vigilant sociabilities; or we can move towards a reformulation of ties and a deep need to embrace the world.

The answers, the opinions, the dogmas are multiplied, but only a thought without haste will be able to really welcome what is new, and host a possible re-foundation of life. Our aim is to contribute to this discussion to come. The arts, especially when connected to life and its reinvention, have always been fundamental to create and illuminate our paths.

We deeply believe that we can help. Because this crisis did not come from the financial world but from the body, and performers work with the body. It's a disease of breathing, which has always been the source of our physical and vocal activity and our somatic training. Because we know what touch, distance and inhibition are, as well as the methods to overcome it. Because we live in the structural confrontation with the other, in the acceptance of otherness. Because we have always valued vulnerability and certain states of exception. Because we have learnt how to dialogue with our ghosts. Because we have the tools of improvisation. Because we deal with movement and pause. With the macro and the micro.

Moreover, the performing arts have been developing non-presential relationship modes, essential at this time of reterritorialization in the digital sphere.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Questions of presence are central to the theory of performing arts and to the training of performers. Since the 60s, performance art has tried to create scenic alternatives to representative thought(realistic or symbolic) and to dualism (reality vs representation), favouring presence and interaction. This demands a redefinition of the scene but also of theory, art and culture.

Fischer-Lichte (2012) considers three degrees of presence: simple (the body as materiality); energetic (the body intensified by training); and radical (intensified by the collective presence). Presence is not an innate ability: it requires (in the body, not just in the mind)listening, attention, generosity, porosity, dispossession, dramatic and resonant multiplication. Presence is often equalled, or at least connected, to energy and breathing (prana, or koshi). How can we expand this energy in space, work on the magnetic field, transform the body’s weight into energy?

But every presence creates a distance. Derrida argued that presence, in order to be present and self present, has always to start representing itself. “Distance is in the very heart of presence” – a displaced and unstable presence created in the relation to the otherness. The performer is confronted with the often invasive co-presence of other performers, of the director and of the audience. He grows with them, in-between.

Moreover, we can actually place absence and nothingness (instead of presence) in the centre of thought, conceiving it as the first stance both on arts media discussion and social matters problematization (Foucault, Lacan, Žižek): what is not seen and not performed as a primal entrance to tensions and precarity. Hauntology (Derrida) and spectres (already present in Deleuze’s theory), as signifiers of absolute otherness, interrupt the comfortable notions of identity and history. We need to do an historical survey on ghosts, and also a critical approach on the duality visible/invisible, as images and visual mapping of reality came to appear as the other side of social opacity and individual centering on the myth of transparency.

In digital performance, which has exploded due to the new Covid forms of socialization, the concepts of presence, absence and visibility underpin the debates between virtual and real, embodiment and disembodiment, opacity and invisibility, liveness and mediation. The discussion of absence is interdisciplinarily pertinent as a follow-up to the ecologies of liveness, where reproduction enables the live category and where remediation relates to Derridean hauntologies as a means to activate pasts.

In addition, intermediality, as an in-between arena of simultaneities of present/absent, makes ambiguities visible in narratives of power and exclusion, and at the same time can activate both disappearance and what remains. Similar to past remains in the present, ephemerality is contained in identities (marginal and “invisible” performative-social practices become visible in certain communities) in a way that performance persists, and absence is made present. Absence needs to be named –even provisionally – in order to address a conflict between singularities.Presence also depends on visibility and power, as both theories and art works have been highlighting. One might consider that there is an ideology of visibility that makes an “increase in visibility” equivalent to an “increase in power”, ending up fetishizing a difference that does not take into account the real differences: “visibility” of black skin or gender cannot be a precise barometer for identifying a community of similar political, economic, sexual and artistic interests. Some of the performers who sought to inscribe this transformative component in their art used precisely this “power of the invisible”.

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