In Conversation

performance, possession + automation (pp+a): Introduction

friday 14th October 2022 @ 11am
Fierce Festival Hub, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Nicholas Ridout and Dhanveer Singh Brar will talk about the ideas behind the pp+a project followed by a short work-in-progress performance anomalopteryx by Eirini Kartsaki in collaboration with Nicol Parkinson.

pp+a brings together academics and artists to investigate the resistant power of ‘spirit possession’, the contemporary rise of automation, and their entanglement with histories of colonial slavery. How is contemporary performance shaped by and responding to these experiences?

anomalopteryx (Eirini Kartsaki in collaboration with Nicol Parkinson)

Anomalopteryx is a flightless bird, known as a lesser bird, only slightly taller than a turkey. A play of movement in and out of sense, in other words, speeches and sounds. 

archived Conversations

Automation + Cultural Production

friday 17th July 2020

Seb Franklin and Annie McClanahan join Nick Ridout for a conversation about automation and its relationship to cultural production.

Instead of imagining a future in which our lives are managed for us by robots or AI, it may be time to think instead about how automation is already deeply embedded in our everyday lives. Automation is not replacing human beings, but it may be changing how we work and act, and how we think and feel about ourselves and other people. 

Possession + performance

friday 24th July 2020

Paul C Johnson and Rebecca Schneider join Nick Ridout for a conversation about possession and performance.

What if possession is a totally modern idea? Could it be a way for people who live modern lives in a supposedly secular culture to describe modes of being that don’t fit with their ideas of what it is to be yourself? How does performance help us think about possession? Are performance and possession both ways of becoming an automated or programmed self? 

Possession + Subjectivity

friday 31st July 2020

Kyla Wazana Tompkins and Roberto Strongman join Nick Ridout for a conversation about possession and subjectivity.

Might possession and other experiences in which people seem to lose control of themselves – like intoxication or narcosis – expand our understanding of what it means to be a subject, beyond the bounded subjectivity assumed and promoted in so-called ‘Enlightenment’ thought? Do subjects always and everywhere have to fit neatly into bodies?

Possession + Modern Acting

friday 4th June 2021

Shonni Enelow, Julia Jarcho and Nicholas Ridout explore ideas about possession and automation in relation to 20th and 21st century experiences of acting, theatre and the movies. Do they hold clues to the roles that both possession and automation play in contemporary life, and to how we might think and feel about them.

Possession: an actor seems to have been taken over by someone else.

Automation: an actor is someone whose actions are not their own.

I was born a loser

Friday 11th June 2021

By losing ourselves in Jamaican essayist of the song form, Alton Ellis’s losses and revisions, Edward George and Dhanveer Singh Brar believe it is possible to begin to open up an auditory dimension to the question of spirit in Jamaica, the Caribbean, the diaspora, and in turn, modernity itself, as it was being rendered towards the end of the twentieth century.

What occurs when “lose her” is recast as “loser”, and covered over once more to become “winner”? And why in each reversioning does “pride” persist, but never in the same guise?