The Negation Square: Generating Absences in the Performative Fields 

António Figueiredo Marques


This paper addresses the ontological crises and has two entry points, the Derridean motto “every concept has always already the trace of its contrary” and the Greimas semiotic square placing absence as the prime concept.

(1) Absence and (2) Presence are two complimentary faces that imply (3) Non-presence and (4) Non-absence. In a broad sense of performativity (both as aesthetics and as social movings) the Absence pole matches imaging (imaginar) and Presence being (estar) so that Absence, in fact, precedes and grants existence to presence itself.

While abandoning narrative (understood as grand narratives (Lyotard 1979) as well as plot (narrative studies)), absence is a lead feature in postmodern and postdramatic views so that it results in the negation or shattering of the intrigue- and character-oriented models.

Backwards, absence is key in the contemporary arts quest for new modes of montage and hybridity in the performing arts. Forwards, absence intervenes in collecting and archiving, allowing for re-enactments, documentation and retrieving performing arts own historicity. 


Researcher at Performance & Cognition group (ICNOVA – FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and studentship holder, from FCT Portuguese board, with the PhD project “Non-narrative dramaturgies: when a performance does not tell a story”. Inquiries and publishes on Theatre and performance studies, Communication, culture and media. His research topics include: narrativity, dramaturgy, intermediality and language towards the staging/montage practices. Recently published the paper "Parasomnia: sleep against capitalism" (Arts-MDPI) and is co-editor for the website Cratera | Performance & Cognition.