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Political responsibility and the unimaginable: How to rehearse new forms of resistance?

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 28 Sep 2015

Abstract

In this participatory session I would like to explore innovative thinking in relation to acts of resistance through a) using free association and brainstorming with a group of participants, and b) following the principles of confidentiality and sharing which apply in group therapy contexts. As part of my on-going practice-led research, this is an experiment that might lead to writing, further practical experimentation, or both.

Resistance is inherent to institutional environments which are meant to facilitate action, yet end up blocking its flow due to the impossibility of fully taking on board the dynamics of living systems in action. The tension between such systems and their institutional apparatuses reminds me of the relationship between cyclical and linear rhythms in Lefebvre’s notion of rhythmanalysis: the potential for variation in the living cyclical form against the “brutal” mechanical repetition in the goal-oriented linear rhythm. In living systems, this brutality produces cracks where forces pushing in different directions might emerge. These forces ultimately find expression in acts of resistance.

To cope with the eventuality of failure, we tend to perform resistance through following known and approved paths. If failure still occurs, this can be viewed as a development outside our control. We want to avoid at all costs the responsibility of having produced negative results due to unfortunate experimentations and wrong choices. To explain SYRIZA’s failure to imagine (and anticipate) the unimaginable conditions of a totally non-democratic European context in which SYRIZA was expected to work, and why this led to a third Memorandum, Andreas Karitzis, member of SYRIZA’s Central Committee, wrote: “we totally consumed ourselves in getting ready for conditions of robust democracy” (Avgi, 19-07-2015).

How to imagine the unimaginable then? I am suggesting that we need to overcome the fear of failure, the anxiety of being accused for not knowing the established rules and practices, and the inertia of habitual responses. After picking a ‘hot’ topic on current affairs from a hat, we will use free association and brainstorming to share wild thoughts and extreme scenaria on this topic in a confidential but playful environment. Perhaps this could be an important first step towards rehearsing innovative approaches to resistance.

CV: I am a Greek artist and academic with background in choreography and improvisation, currently living in Scotland and working at the University of Edinburgh as Reader in Interdisciplinary Choreography. I use choreographic concepts and practices to understand and explore (in practice) how changes occur in dynamic environments of different types, including physical, virtual, social, political, or hybrid ones. Having had a direct lived experience of the impact of the Scottish Independence Referendum in the Scottish society, alongside the indirect experience of remote engagement with the complexities of the Greek Referendum, I had vast opportunity recently to intensify my thinking on how dynamic changes occur in social systems and what types of movement and movement qualities are involved in these processes.

This was included in the Conference Institutions, Politics, Performance Conference (24-28 September Athens, Greece)

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