Taking ‘agonism’ as a defining feature of the avant-garde (Poggioli) this inaugural event (PSi#20, Shanghai Theater Academy, 4-8 July 2014) of PSi’s new Performance+Design Working Group (PSi_P+DWG) looked to the politics of community participation in art, design & architecture via productive resistance: a participatory approach that embraces difference and disagreement. By gathering a mobile network of performance designers—both physically and virtually present—the session explored how to operate between the local and the global: asking what is censured or passes under the radar as we move across constructed and imagined borders; from conditions of consensus into antagonistic circumstances and back again? The session comprised of performative, mediated and embodied presentations (present and remote) articulating current research concerns and practices, and that acknowledge, activate and design via an agonistic foundation, defined as “the friction of varied publics and participation by people of different minds, views, and beliefs.”
The session gathered conference participants around a long table, covered in absorbent sheets of paper and laid out with an accruing feast of fruit, nuts, seeds, spices, dumplings and chrysanthemum tea served up by our STA hosts. Over the 3-hour session this accumulating landscape was augmented with papers, pens, phones, peelings, smudges and smears as people engaged with the edible offerings and instructions from panel presenters who were physically or distantly present. Due to issues around China’s connectivity with the West, the online presenters proved phantasmatic, interrupted or absent in the machinery. However the conversation over the event was robust and the abject panorama of the table provided food for dialogue and thought.
Alice Shi (STA) hosted the praxis session. Offline participants included co-convener Dorita Hannah (UTas/Aalto) with the opening presentation, Table Talk. Stephen Loo (UTas) reflected on Leftovers, or three recipes for disaster. Online/by-proxy participations included Rodrigo Tisi’s (Chile) narration of Cancha: Second Home (by Cristobal Palma), Joslin McKinney’s (Leeds) handspaperhands and Jordan Geiger’s (SUNY Buffalo) participatory provocation Proxy Server. Co-convener Beth Weinstein (UArizona) concluded with performing designing, live in real-time.