1 The Department of Dramaturgy, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University
This paper examines how Waltz’ performance "Insideout" (2003) on the one hand iterates some relatively stable contextual frames of “sameness” (its mise en scène), but on the other, more radically plays with different and alternating discursive framings or contexts, e.g. “this is theatre” or “this is a social or political situation”, in order to create a space of interaction between actors and spectators. This challenges a more traditional notion of the theatrical frame (Goffmann): given that the dividing line between performer and audience is blurred, the audience becomes involved in the production. Consequently, the performance, as Erika Fischer-Lichte’s influential work of 2004 Ästhetik des Performativen informs us, emerges “as a result of the interaction between actors and audience”. This notion of performance as an event (Ereignis) occurring between actors and spectators holds many promising perspectives that can help shed new light on the aesthetics of performance art. The full scope of Waltz’s performance, however, is not grasped if we follow that aspect of Fischer-Lichte’s theory which reduces a performance to the question of co-presence, role-reversal or interaction. For her, a performance must be seen as a self-governing state of affairs due to the autopoietic feedback loop between actors and audience. This idea is based on the works of biologists Humberto Maturana and Paul Varela. Inspired by Maturana and Varela’s concept of autopoiesis (from Greek auto for self and poiesis for creation or production), Fischer-Lichte describes performances as self-creating systems that are the product of their own operations. In terms of Fischer-Lichte, then, autopoiesis would mean that the interactive aesthetics of Waltz’ Insideout enables a fundamentally open, unpredictable process to emerge. This is only partly the case in Waltz’s production, as we shall see in my analysis.