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SEASON #1: Performativity

[Unfolding Thoughts for Season #1:]


a. adj. Of or pertaining to performance; spec. designating or pertaining to an utterance that effects an action by being spoken or written or by means of which the speaker performs a particular act.

Within the space of Season #1, we will be taking on the theme of performativity as a frame through which to explore several strands of research and practice. Starting with our launch in late 2020, we will set questions to be explored through multiple artists, curators and collectives - working to understand what this kind of thinking and doing might encourage.


It all begins with an understanding of J.L Austin’s Speech Acts introduced in his 1955 lectures on ‘How to do things with words’. As a precursor to the idea of performativity, it described verbal utterances that exercised the transformative capacity of speech acts that constitutes or changes reality. While definitions of performativity are now numerous, and often contradictory, most are connected to a belief that there are no fixed concepts of objectivity, reality and truth and that everything is constructed and influenced by individual context, encounter and interaction. Although different, concepts of the performative all, as Shannon Jackson puts it, “emphasise its reality-making capacity”, the term performative is more often used to describe art works and practices that are “theatre-like but not theatre”; providing an understanding of recent cross-disciplinary works that embrace critical and relational encounters with time, space and bodies.

We have been exploring performativity across our collective practice(s) for a while now; but within the last year and within the space of PINK, the aim of our research has been to form and explore what Shannon Jackson calls the "intermedial use of performative language" – which foregrounds the productive relation between the performing and visual arts.

This opens up whole range of possibilities when applied to the processes and products of contemporary curatorial practice - and the main aim of this season and its subsequent research is to investigate how such performative language and situations may expand our knowledge of what curatorial practice is and can do.


By introducing the concept of the performative into our curatorial practice, we can test out the possibilities for its application in relation to our activities. Operating as a space that seeks to be open to new methods and modes of becoming a multifunctional forum; seeking to interrogate the meaning of curatorial practice itself. By calling performative production procedures into question, we focus on changes and dynamics. We break-up existing structures, and create new ones. We present the curatorial as a staging ground on which to develop an idea. Staging the artistic processes that lead to new potentialities in the performing of the curatorial. Defining a curatorial praxis that develops together with artistic practices and reacts to its urgencies.

The performative potential of the curatorial lies in its thinking of the various strands it presents as different aspects of the same approach. In this case, the curatorial becomes a temporal, dynamic field of liveliness and transformation; and maybe it is through the aligned methods of the performative, or even the choreographic, and the curatorial that we can begin to understand and bring forward the tensions and relations that emphasise the ‘aliveness’ or ‘present-ness’ in a performative ensemble. The understanding of the curatorial as performative means putting focus on the here and now; an intensive moment of being, the creation of a temporary reality; a space to think through. Through the merging of theatrical and curatorial concepts, we can create spheres of open exchange; setting in motion open questions around the role artistic strategies might play in these situations; working towards the potential of a curatorial approach that uses performativity as a tool to create such discursive spheres.


Our first season of activity focuses on the performative conditions of contemporary artistic production, and makes connections to current practices of performing, staging and acting within the exhibition space. We are interested in what will emerge across the presentations and works in relation to the thematic framework of performativity; exploring over the space of our first year how we might open up the theme and its processes, to be shown in all their complexity and chaos.

We aim to question how useful the concept of the performative is to curatorial discourse, and how it can contribute to a meaningful discussion of curatorial practice, as we bring performativity into the heart of the exhibition and test it in different ways. With our departing question being: How can performativity in, its varied approaches, open spaces for inquiry and become method(s) for knowledge production?

Performativity provides a way for us to explore relations and positions within a staged constellation. Through an understanding of the performative as a procedural phenomenon, PINK will use the term as a thematic framework to reflect on what an exhibition practice that considers itself performative has in mind. Working towards an understanding of performative curating and its ability to create active spaces to think through knowledge. A self-imposed structure that enables us to hold an idea open long enough to create a conversation with multiple entry points.

We will situate performativity within the space of the curatorial; amass an array of its objects, its metaphors, its movements. Exploring the shift between the staged and the enacted to test new curatorial conditions and boundaries.

It is through this focus on the notion of performativity, that we can begin to explore a series of structures and methods that allow us to examine the relations, objects, positions and conditions of a performative situation for research. Asking {something along the lines of} how do we think about research, perform it and report it? How can the creation of temporary communities, the impact of time and space, the tactics and strategies of theatre, dance and performance contextualise artistic work? And: how does performative curating work in relation to the spatial, social, environmental, and political reality?

>> For more information on our seasonal approach ~> SEASON #1: A Framing Function <<

{ Performativity Reading List ~ Coming Soon }

We are always interested in hearing from people who share the same lines of enquiry and this post is a mere overview of the work and research we have done on this subject. If you would like to get in touch, please contact us directly via

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