My paper Performing Stillness has been accepted as part of the Performing Publics conference taking place from 9–13 June 2010, Toronto, Canada
PSi 16, Performing Publics, will take place in Toronto as part of a collaboration between York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and the Ontario College of Art & Design. The conference will investigate the power of performance to intervene in, reshape, and reinvigorate the public sphere at the beginning of the twenty-first century. We invite proposals that take up notions of “public” in a variety of ways, pointing to the critically generative and fraught aspects of the term as it has been adopted within performance studies. The conference will theorize the relationship between performance, “official” public culture (public culture framed and sanctioned by state and/or corporate institutions), and the production of what Michael Warner calls “counter-publics” (social formations developed in opposition to the discourses and interests of the official public sphere). As such, it will explore the coming together of individuals as a social totality – as a community, nation, organization, etc. – and the enactment of public as a form of social activism, as a means of rehearsing, querying, and producing alternative forms of local and global citizenship. In both contexts, performance has the potential to frame affective and critically nuanced responses to public events, issues and crises and thus to model politically and ethically engaged forms of public life. The conference also seeks to problematize the idea of “publics” as it has been applied to performance by exploring the limitations of this term and the kinds of social exclusions that it often has been used to rationalize.Guiding questions will include: How are we hailed by various publics, and how does this shape our behaviors and social interactions? How are publics spatially and temporally constituted? In what ways do publics participate in forms of activism, civic engagement, and “poetic world-making” (Warner)? What affects and effects are produced by such utopian interventions?