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|Title:||"Unassumable Responsibility": Watching Mike Parr|
|Abstract:||This ‘paper’ is a short personal piece of writing—an interior monologue really—about “being there” at Mike Parr’s "Punch Holes in the Body Politic" at Artspace in Sydney. I wrote this initially at the time and have added to it some what for this occasion but my aim was to record my contradictory experience—thoughts, puzzlings—of attending this show, which of course (as it turned out) was based on ethically compromising the spectator if at all possible by almost forcing them to hurt Mike. I had sent students along and had tried to prepare them as far as I could, but I did not know in detail until after my own experience just what it was that Mike Parr had prepared and indeed even then how much of that which was prepared didn't seem to work, at least as intended. This phenomenon in itself offers distinctive spectatorial challenges. Perhaps Mike’s ideal spectator isn’t an ethical one. I have tried in this writing to record my own process of trying to separate the accidental from the essential, the puzzling but maybe significant from the fuck-ups, while trying to be both an ethical and as much as possible the interactive spectator Mike apparently wanted.|
|Description:||We are all ethical spectators aren't we? We don't participate in the festival of cruelty taking place on our TV screens. We offer an informed critique and then retire to our offices and living rooms. But isn't restricting oneself to spectatorship precisely an unethical activity in the age of compassion fatigue and distant suffering? How can aesthetic activity offer a useful perspective on these dynamics of state power and the production of a "mass mediated machining synonymous with distress and despair" (Guattari)? This panel aimed to interrogate these dynamics through an analysis of a diverse range of performance works in which the possibility of the ethical response is directly broached or even structurally implicated in the work itself. We asked whether this is efficacious or what if any ethical functions can performance play in the contemporary political moment? The panel comprised 6 presentations each exploring the work of a particular group and the ways in which the work in question negotiated serious political, social, performative or ethical questions. Each panellist presented examples of work that troubled traditional notions of ethics and morality and also challenged spectators as well as the meaning and function of spectatorship in the current environment. Questions we addressed included: what does the spectator do? How is his/her role different from that of the television viewer who witnesses distant suffering unfolding on the screen each night? Should the spectator respond both inside and beyond the performance space? If so what might an ‘appropriate’ response be?|
|Rights and Permissions:||Copyright Australasian Association for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies|
|Type of Work:||Conference paper|
|Appears in Collections:||Being There: |
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