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Tactics of interruption: provoking participation in performance art

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posted on 23.06.2016, 12:45 by Lee Campbell
This thesis addresses a research study predicated on practice in order to explore aspects of participation in Performance Art. The study makes a contribution to knowledge in participative performance practice and the positive deployment of using interruptive processes; this is in order to provoke participation within the context of Performance Art as well as gain a better understanding of the operations of power relations at play. Within the discourse of impoliteness study (Bousfield, 2008; Culpeper, 2011 et al.), there is a term that deserves much greater attention: interruption . Examining interruption and exploiting its virtues using practice brings out some productive insights that go beyond abstract theorisation. Working in response to Nicolas Bourriaud s conception (1998) of participation in Relational Aesthetics as a means of attacking power relations, I use my practice as an artist/performance provocateur and amplify consideration of my previous usage of interruption in order to provoke participation and then interrogation of power relations. Slapstick and heckling as extreme versions of interruptive processes that are physical in nature are put forward as tactics of interruption that extend comedy tactics within my practice. Circumventing commentary of interruption that often posits the term and its affiliation with impoliteness and capacity to be disruptive as negative (Bilmes, 1997), interruption is used for the purposes of my study as the key strategy that underpins the performance Lost for Words (2011) and the collaborative project Contract with a Heckler (2013), and are presented as prime examples of the operations of interruption in practice. Lost for Words supports the difficulties of participation when interruptive processes connected to physical and bodily slapstick are structurally engineered into a live performance and Contract with a Heckler supports power relations when live performance is predicated upon physical and linguistic interruptive processes relating to heckling. Both Lost for Words and Contract with a Heckler demonstrate a complex knitting of theory and practice whereby argument is supported by the undertaking of action (by the necessity of experiencing interruption in practice). The written dimension of the thesis operates in conjunction with the accompanying photographs and video recordings included here as documentation serving to deconstruct the examples of practice presented. Writing adds detail in the form of critical analysis, reflective commentary and personal experience to the supplied documentation and is used as a tool to communicate that working with interruption on a theoretical, practical and emotional level can be exciting, provocative and dangerous.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • Arts


© Lee Campbell

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.