Against healing. A practice seminar on performance art and violence.

Summer Semester 2024

Challenging the “hope of endowing violence with a political sense” (Catherine Malabou), this seminar studies how performance artists investigate the violence and trauma of structural and situational violence. Since the 1970s, performance and visual artists alike have developed the therapeutic (i.e. Joseph Beuys, Lygia Clark) and self-emancipatory (i.e., Jo Spence, Marina Abramović) potential of performatively disclosing visible and invisible wounds. More recently, however, a younger generation of artists have adopted a decidedly more negative (dialectical) perspective, articulating what’s irretrievably lost, transformed, and sometimes gained when violence is inflicted. In doing so, they may provide us with the critical tools necessary to deconstruct the normalizing effects and ready mobilization of ideas around healing or justice in racial capitalism. Under the guidance of scholars such as Malabou, Sara Ahmed, Elsa Dorlin, the seminar unfolds as a series of performances with subsequent discussions with the artists, and concludes with a somatic workshop with choreographer and dramaturge Carolina Mendonça.