SHOWING UP, 7-10 NOVEMBER 2022, BELGRADE involves research on performativity and a series of interventions, co-created in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory of the University in Belgrade. The project is developed on the intersection between philosophy/theory and visual art, with philosophers, theorists, and artist exchanging roles throughout the research process.
Performativity is the capacity of speech to act or consummate an action: language does not simply describe the world but may instead (or also) function as a form of individual or social action. The concept of performative language was first defined by the philosopher John L. Austin who posited that there was a difference between constative language, which describes the world and can be evaluated as true or false, and performative language, which does something in the world.
"Showing up" departs form the Austin’s concept and emphases the role of performativity in the active, social construction of reality. The project is set up as a constant overlap between theory and (art) practice, as they make different forms of public appearance on three different sites: first on the street (interventions), then in the institution (workshops) and finally on the stage (film or theatre play). All three locations will be used both as a physical location and conceptual framework.
In November 2022, the workshop was organized within this project with participation of researchers from the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory and students from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade. During three days, this group of people showed up unannounced on the streets of Belgrade, and then disappeared again without any explanation or trace. They followed a simple choreography while standing in at the most frequented spots in the city that offer an ad hoc audience and where these kinds of gatherings and activities are not expected, creating an effect of estrangement. These first appearances in the project were not symbolically articulated and attempted to reinterpret public space by temporarily suspending all theoretical and practical relations. The main purpose of employing this phenomenological view was to incite the production of language, which contains unpredictable possibilities for action.
The street appearances served as the starting point around which different layers of the language are to be created, from rumors and conspiracy theories to social theory and philosophy. The participants of the project will reflect on it, but also on the wider (social, political and other) significance of interventions and through this establish the theoretical ground of the project. Like in the forum theatre (where the action on stage is constantly re-interpreted and changed by the audience), the content will be created equally by performers and observers, with the makers of the project occupying both positions. In the later stage of the project, the created discourse – the "appearance of theory" – will be made public as a staged act.