On Making Collective Heads: Performance, Choreography, Theory and the Social Body
André Lepecki

The third day of the symposium gathers together a renowned group of artists and scholars from fields such as contemporary choreography, experimental performance, affect theory, queer and neurodiversity studies, and performance studies whose ground breaking work has helped expand our understanding of the relations between brain and body, brain and art, and brain and the social-political sphere. Their different social, theoretical, and artistic practices challenge normative notions of the brain as a tightly encased organ governing a self-contained, self-possessed and autonomous agential subject, suggesting instead that the brain is never quite where it is supposed to be. Continuously spilling out across space and time, aggregating, and splitting up – and also being aggregated by other bodies, affects, and matters, including the brains and affects of non-human species and their singular modes of being – a brain’s location must necessarily then be always in a collective head (to paraphrase the title of a 1975 participatory work by Brazilian artist Lygia Clark, Cabeça coletiva). Combining lectures, intensely participatory performances, and plenty of time for dialogue, the four guests will experiment with variations on this hypothesis in differently embodied, theorized, composed and choreographed ways. The session thus offers discursive as well as artistic propositions to help us understand how artistic practices build embodied and performative technologies for making collective heads.

With: André Lepecki, Patricia Clough, Mette Edvardsen, Leon Hilton, and Anne Juren.

André Lepecki is Associate Professor in Performance Studies at New York University. He is editor of several anthologies on dance and performance theory including Dance (2012) and Of the Presence of the Body (2004). An independent performance curator, he has created projects for: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; Hayward Gallery, London; Haus der Künst, Munich; and the Sydney Biennial, 2016 among others. He is the author of Singularities: dance in the age of performance (2016) and Exhausting Dance: performance and the politics of movement (2006), which has been translated into ten languages.