RUUKKU 11 call: How to do things with performance?

An interest in performances, actions, practices and change is shared by artistic research and performance studies. Both can be seen as part of the broader performative turn in social sciences, influenced by J.L. Austin's linguistic theory of performatives (How to Do Things with Words? 1962; Näin tehdään sanoilla, 2016) and the idea, developed especially by Judith Butler (Gender Trouble 1990; Bodies that Matter 1993) of cultural performatives, identities that materialize through repetition. Although the performative turn began as a reaction against linguistically oriented structuralism, it has been criticized for placing language and the linguistic at the centre in a similar manner. New materialist research (e.g. Barad 2003, 2007; Van der Tuijn 2015) has emphasized the inseparability of materiality and discursivity. Through posthumanist research (e.g. Ó Maoilearca 2015, Braidotti 2013) performativity widens to concern more-than-human dimensions as well; performance is not only a human activity. 

Austin's performatives are not true or false as the constatives, propositional statements, but rather felicitous or infelicitous depending on whether they produce the strived for change in the world. Within art research Dorothea von Hantelmann (2012) has asked, How to Do Things with Art, and within performance studies Edward Scheer has inquired How to Do Things with Performance Art? (2014). In the context of artistic research Barbara Bolt (2008; 2016) has recently returned to discuss its performative character and challenged us to consider what artistic research produces and effectuates. In the context of artistic research performatives could be understood as challenging the nature of knowledge: artistic research does not operate on the axis of the true and the untrue, but rather in relationship to the change that the research creates in the world.

In the research project How to do things with performance? (2016-2020) funded by the Academy of Finland we have looked for answers with the help of some concepts like fabulation, fictioning, framing, reimagining and repeating. Fabulation refers here to the social way we are creating shared meanings. Fictioning, on the contrary, is a mode of thinking which does not strive for any kind of equivalence with reality or the real. Repeating with variation can be linked on one hand to learning, the stabilizing of impact, and on the other hand to the production of difference. These are of course not the only verbs central for performance and performing. We invite everybody interested in these issues to propose and present or expose how and in what way things are done, produced and effected with performance.

Performance or performing can thus function as a central research method, as the medium of research or as part of the presentation of research outputs. How is performance as research actually done? What and how can things be done with performance? What is, in a concrete sense the research aspect in doing things in or with performance? If we understand doing things with performance as taking place within the medium of performance, how and what do we know of this medium by doing? What about performance studies, where a performance can, besides being a research object also be an analytical tool or lens for examining things? What happens to performances in documentation or writing, especially in the international multilingual context, where words, documentations and practices are shared via the internet and understood in various ways?

We invite expositions as well as short contributions (voices) related to our theme for the 11th issue of RUUKKU. The editors of this issue are Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola.

We ask you to write your proposals for research expositions in the RC catalogue at Note! The catalogue requires user rights and registration (see ‘register'). Please submit your proposals via the Research Catalogue (‘submit to publication', ‘submit unlimited publication to', and ‘ruukku') no later than 30th March 2018 15th April 2018. The finished expositions are due by 20 June 2018.

RUUKKU is a multidisciplinary, multilingual, peer-reviewed journal on artistic research launched in 2013. RUUKKU is published and supported by the University of the Arts Helsinki, Aalto school of Arts, Design and Architecture and the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland, with a particular focus on multi-lingual publication. The primary languages of publication are Finnish, Swedish and English.