Documentation from a performance "Tell Me About Your Machine", which took place at the New Performance Festival in Turku, May 3-5 2012.

Photo: Hannu Seppälä


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). Aside from supporting my artistic practice and exposing it as research, my aim is to predicate it within the larger context cognitive capitalism, the neoliberal economy and post-industrial labour. From this vantage point 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 something which is considered 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, French theory and the contemporary critique of neo-liberal capitalism. My overall aim is to produce a contribution in this convergence. However, a theoretical approach is necessary not only to scrutinize what these potentialities might be, but also to formulate a support for a practice. In relation to this theoretical apparatus, the three artistic works function not only as singular instances, but also as considerations of the present neoliberal conditions, from the point of view of a critique. My research, in the field of performance art and theory, is deliberately restricted to the aspects of performance art practice and the concept of performance in the context of capitalism. Furthermore, it concentrates on the subjectivity of a performer in these two contexts; performance art and performance in capitalist practices. I am interested in articulating the complexity of an event experienced by either performing, or witnessing, subjectivity. What are the qualities of subjectivity for a performer, and are these qualities commensurable with the state of subjectivity in other particular contexts, such as in the contemporary political situation? 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?

Performance art functions as an analytical tool for the investigation of subjectivity and biopolitics. It is also part of the discourse of any capitalist apparatus. Artistic practice has rather limited means to effect these conditions. However, such a practice may produce the effect that potentialities may actualize as singular events. As an artist I desire to make a difference in the world and to articulate the particularity of the often bleak conditions where artistic practices take place. Aside from my own artistic works, this exposition includes some descriptions and analysis of other artistic works, events or phenomenon, which are tied in with the particular discourses of capitalism and subjectivity. 


The concept of schizoanalysis was developed by Félix Guattari and Jean Oury at the clinique La Borde. (Genosko 1996, 8-12) Schizoanalysis has its origin in the heterogeneous and radical “anti-psychiatric” movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Italy, France and England. (Genosko 2002, 30-36) So far it has been seldom used in practice, but some recent examples include the appropriation of schizoanalysis by the Ueinzz Theatre Group in São Paulo and the performance group Plastique Fantastique initiated by Simon O’Sullivan and David Burrows [1]. Even at the clinique La Borde schizoanalysis was not the base for therapeutic practice, but used as an experiment for social organization. The attention in schizoanalytic practice is on the group, rather than the individual, which, for Guattari, was a politically necessary move away from ‘bourgeois’ Freudian and Lacanian analysis. However, as a student of Lacan, Guattari still owed a lot to psychoanalysis. In Addition, the development of schizoanalysis was influenced considerably by his collaborator and friend Gilles Deleuze. These links have been researched by Janell Watson in her book Guattari’s Diagrammatic Thought: Writing Between Lacan and Deleuze (2009). Both her book and the more recent book on subjectivity and diagrammatic thought by Simon O’Sullivan (2012) are excellent philosophical investigations on this topic, and provide thorough introductions to Guattari’s idea of metamodelization, therefore I will not go any deeper on these relations here.

Instead, I will try to develop an argument for the usefulness of schizoanalysis for artistic practice, which is inevitably an appropriation. I am appropriating schizoanalysis both as a working method and as a tool for analyzing other works or practices. Appropriation is a way to use these tools outside the therapeutic context. However, what is significantly similar between artistic practice and therapy is the production of subjectivity in both instances, and how this production can be approached by schizoanalysis. The event of performance is a site for potential possibilities to become actual. However, infinite actualization of potential is never possible. Yet this is what the capitalist paradigm aims to do, to simulate the actualization of infinite possibilities. (O’Sullivan 2012, 22) Thus, schizoanalysis is not a manual for full potentiality, but an analysis of the subjectivization accommodating such a promise of infinity. I have taken the liberty to develop some concepts of my own, based on Guattari’s own articulations and experiments, since he warned us not to replicate a model from one context to another, but to check if the map is still valid and calibrate this into a different context.

Next section: Production of transformation in art practice

[1] See