Schizoanalysis as a Method in Artistic Research (2013)

Tero Nauha

About this exposition

This exposition uses concepts of contamination, sponge and plasticity to approach the heterogeneity of a schizoanalytic practice - and as such as a method for artistic research. These concepts are singular to my research on the amalgamation of performance, subjectivity and contemporary forms of capitalism. My argument is to a large extent based on the theoretical thinking and practical works of Félix Guattari. The singular concept of ‘sponge’, developed here, can be linked to Guattari’s concept of chaosmosis and to the concept of plasticity, which has been reworked from its Hegelian comprehension by Catherine Malabou. The foundation of my research is my artistic practice in the field of performance art. It is a practice based research including three artistic works – “Loop Variations” (2008), “Life in Bytom” (2012) and “Astronomer” (2014). My aim is to predicate it within the larger context cognitive capitalism, the neoliberal economy and post-industrial labour. Artistic practice is a device located within and conditioned by each economic and political ideology or order. However, an artistic practice is not only a formal production, but also produces content, which is not yet categorized, in other words new. Often in the discourse of neoliberal culture production, this new is described with the word ‘innovation’. In my opinion these terms are not equivalent, but often contest each other. This exposition takes place at the convergence of performance studies, psychoanalysis, and the critique of neo-liberal capitalism. My overall aim is to produce a contribution in this convergence. What is the particular locus of a performer in the setting of performance art or social practices, where borders between everyday life, audience, performer, physical setting or duration are not explicit? This exposition includes some analysis of artistic works, which are tied in with the discourses of capitalism and subjectivity.
typeresearch exposition
affiliationUniversity of the Arts, Theatre Academy Helsinki
published inJournal for Artistic Research

comments: 2 (last entry by Simon O'Sullivan - 18/06/2013 at 23:28)
Lorna Collins 18/06/2013 at 23:25

This is a very interesting piece of work which shows useful artistic and conceptual insight. On the whole, the exposition is of both artistic and intellectual interest, both conceptually and methodologically. The use of schizoanalysis as a practice, activated by an agency of performance art, provides an important and contemporary critical angle. Deleuze and Guattari are very popular philosophers at present, particularly in the art world. Their concept/practice of schizoanalysis is here juxtaposed with Catherine Malabou using three concepts – sponge, plasticity and contamination – in a way that draws out a novel approach to well-versed theory. This engages the intellectual problem of how one can think about and activate a practice of schizoanalysis, which is backed up with references to particular performances by the author, showing an artistic enactment that precedes and directs this largely theoretical exposition. These performances seem stimulating and relevant.


Nauha’s use of the ‘sponge’ concept is a very interesting and useful way of thinking about Guattari’s powerful notion of chaosmosis, and in my mind accurately evokes the permeability and interaction involved in a truly aesthetic experience. Relating this to the production and heterogeneity of subjectivity, and the process of individuation, provides insight to an ongoing ontological intellectual problem. The point of the exposition suggests that this methodology is then ‘a tool for producing and analysing artistic practices’, which is illustrated by references to various internationally exhibited performances. The exposition is at its strongest during the author’s narrative of these performances, since they seem less weighed down by theoretical terminology and complex ideas, and to delve into real practice that the reader can draw from, as though a sponge is being placed in nectar. In this regard the exposition is successful in its outcomes.


The juxtaposition of Catherine Malabou in relation to Deleuze and Guattari, and the use of the concepts of sponge, contamination and plasticity, show evidence of theoretical innovation in content. This content then provides a novel technique when it is carried to agency through the practice of performance art. The research issue is contextualized to a certain extent, with these references to particular performances, and the concept of sponge would seem to provide great opportunity to bring in the social and political issues that provoke, illustrate and react to these performances. ‘The mess of contamination’ provides an interesting context of neoliberal capitalism. The author might want to look up Bernard Stiegler’s ultra- contemporary ‘economy of contribution’, which could arguably be seen as a quasi-aesthetic sponge, responding to hegemony and hyperindustry. The author’s use of the amateur, and transindividuation, is also interesting in terms of the context and relevance of the research issue being considered, particularly in relation to Stiegler’s work on these subjects, which the author engages with to a certain extent (although this could be taken further, through Simondon).


The exposition provides new insight through the concept of sponge, as it is related to Chaosmosis, and by activating schizoanalysis as a practice. This work is timely and relevant to current theoretical and artistic debates. Specifically considered and applied through performance art, Nauha brings a new viewpoint and source material to Guattari’s theory. This essay concerns the production and heterogeneity of subjectivity, how this might be used as a larger practice, outside the somewhat singular (perhaps élite) encounter of a performance. I am left wondering how one might ‘squeeze’ the sponge, so it could drip the nectar of insight apparent in this essay, in order to feed the masses beyond this author and their circle of voyeurs. This is a task of exhibition and dissemination, which should be forthcoming after the publication of the essay in the Journal for Artistic Research.

Simon O'Sullivan 18/06/2013 at 23:28

The exposition of Tero Nauha’s practice is of both artistic and intellectual interest. In general it develops the idea of art practice as schizoanalytic with admirable persistency, bringing in other theorists such as Malabou alongside Guattari, and developing some very interesting concepts – such as the plasticity of the sponge – that are then tested in the practice. Indeed, the submission is almost a paradigmatic example of practice as a research programme. The author demonstrates a very good grasp of some difficult conceptual material, not least Guattari’s diagrammatics, and is able to bring these into productive encounter with a practice that is itself rigorous and highly experimental.

Comments are only available for registered users.

i have forgotten my password
join the research catalogue
Portals The research catalogue serves:
Journal for Artistic Research
a peer-reviewed international journal for all art disciplines
KC Research Portal
Research Portal of the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague
Norwegian Artistic Research Programme
The portal of the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme
Taiteellisen tutkimuksen kausijulkaisu / Studies in Artistic Research
University of Applied Arts Vienna
RC portal of the University of Applied Arts Vienna
Journal of Sonic Studies
A peer-reviewed, international journal on sound studies and auditory culture
Academy of Creative and Performing Arts
Portal of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University
SHAPE - Artistic Research and Institutional Impact
SHAPE aims to describe the impact of artistic research within specific frameworks.
Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen
Portal of Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design
Portal of Codarts, University of the Arts, Rotterdam
Stockholm University of the Arts
Stockholm University of the Arts (Uniarts) provides education and conducts research in the fields of choreography, film & media, opera and performing arts.
University of the Arts Helsinki
University of the Arts Helsinki was launched in 2013 upon the merging of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy, and Theatre Academy Helsinki.
The Norwegian Film School
The Norwegian Film School
Norwegian Academy of Music
A leading artistic and academic university college with over 600 students. Located in Oslo, Norway.