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Uncertainties that matter: risk, response-ability, ethics and the moment of exchange in Live Art

Hadley, Bree J., Trace, Genevieve, & Winter, Sarah (2010) Uncertainties that matter: risk, response-ability, ethics and the moment of exchange in Live Art. About Performance, 10, pp. 137-151.

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    Abstract

    This article examines the moment of exchange between artist, audience and culture in Live Art. Drawing on historical and contemporary examples, including examples from the Exist in 08 Live Art Event in Brisbane, Australia, in October 2008, it argues that Live Art - be it body art, activist art, site-specific performance, or other sorts of performative intervention in the public sphere - is characterised by a common set of claims about activating audiences, asking them to reflect on cultural norms challenged in the work. Live Art presents risky actions, in a context that blurs the boundaries between art and reality, to position audients as ‘witnesses’ who are personally implicated in, and responsible for, the actions unfolding before them. This article problematises assumptions about the way the uncertainties embedded in the Live Art encounter contribute to its deconstructive agenda. It uses the ethical theory of Emmanuel Levinas, Hans-Thies Lehmann and Dwight Conquergood to examine the mechanics of reductive, culturally-recuperative readings that can limit the efficacy of the Live Art encounter. It argues that, though ‘witnessing’ in Live Art depends on a relation to the real - real people, taking real risks, in real places - if it fails to foreground theatrical frame it is difficult for audients to develop the dual consciousness of the content, and their complicity in that content, that is the starting point for reflexivity, and response-ability, in the ethical encounter.

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    ID Code: 39907
    Item Type: Journal Article
    Keywords: Spectatorship, Live Art, Risk, Ethics
    ISSN: 1324-6089
    Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
    Divisions: Current > Schools > Drama
    Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
    Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
    Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 About Performance
    Deposited On: 07 Feb 2011 08:18
    Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 00:30

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