Performativity Now and Then: The performative turn in architecture

 It can be said that a “performative turn” is taking place in architecture today.

The present day-interest in performance and performativity in architecture seems to be largely inspired by such phenomena as the 2011demonstrations of the (short-lived) Arab Spring or its nearly contemporary European and American counterparts (#OWS, Madrid 15M) and the reclaiming of political public spaces in cities; but there are many other places and spaces in which architecture as a collective and performative act is being, precisely, performed. Illuminating connections can be traced with the ways in which contemporary domesticity, as in recent projects of collaborative architecture, is being deployed, with substantial links to sustainability too. But we cannot forget its modern and postmodern roots, its avant-garde connections or its ancestors in Greek festivals, Medieval mysteries or Renaissance and Baroque urban events.

In any case there are much more than architectural representations of social and political (even ecological) issues in performativity, relevant as they are. In fact, the main issue could be, precisely, the one of representation—vs. presentation—or enactment; the undecidability between one and an/the other, its in-betweenness. Since the point is how architectural performativity, can (and if) bridge the modern/postmodern divide between reality and representation, between a world that has been replaced by simulacra and even simulacra of simulacra (to the benefit of late-global capitalism) and something less “liquid” that does not easily melt into the air.

This session welcomes papers that deal both with present and historical cases in architectural performativity that could shed some light on the role performativity has had in architecture, its constitution in pre-modern and modern times, and its relevance today in producing architecture and negotiating the representational divide. It welcomes theoretical approaches and philosophical ruminations as well as practical examples, encouraging non-discursive approaches delivered through performance, installations or film-based presentations.

Session chairs José Vela Castillo, and María de la O del Santo Mora