Performance "Motor City", which was a part of the project "Life in Bytom", "Miraculous Organic" event, organized by Skånes Konstförening at Malmö and curated by Essi Kausalainen and Mikko Kuorinki, 2012. Also in The Performance Matters: Potentials of Performance event, October 26th, 2012 in ]p e r f o r m a n c e space[, London.

Photos: Christa Holka, Live Art Development Agency and Mikko Kuorinki


In the shadows resides the mimetic monstrosity and abnormality of sponge subjectivity. The sponge is betrayed by a soul-less SpongeBob SquarePants, which is a facsimile of a desired subjectivity. The shadow is a soul that disturbs, which remains as a link to mortality. (Rank 1971, 57)

In his notes from his neuropsychological practice, Antonio Damasio introduces the phenomena of akinetic muteness, in which "the patient no longer manifested any emotional reactions and seemed neither surprised nor unhappy to be in the hospital." (Malabou 2012, 51) Such ‘numbness’ is not on the level of neurosis, but deeper, on the level of cerebral structure where the link between the emotional and the rational has been damaged. In the early twentieth century such rupture was diagnosed as neurasthenia, and more recently as panic disorder. (Jones 2004, 28) The affect of panic or numbness is more and more present in the context of cognitive labour. It might not be brain damage, which causes a numb and disinterested behaviour, but more an overwhelming exhaustion with the present context. (Berardi 2010) Where a plastic potentiality of giving is eliminated, potentiality withdraws. In the language of Guattari's metamodelization, subjectivity reterritorializes into a limited existential territory – into homely refrains and repetition with indifference. The result is depression and suffering. Moreover, annihilating plasticity of the self does not reveal archaic subjectivity, it is not a regression, for exhausted subjectivity is without a past. It is neither primitive nor infantile. (Malabou 2012a, 59)

Transformation includes a necessity of a double — shadow, mirror or echo. [6] A transformation includes discomfort, where a potentiality of annihilation is present, in the form of this double. Transformation with difference, therefore, only takes place in the discomforting presence of this shadow. Transformation of this kind is a process distinct from a sudden trauma or full annihilation. This process heightens the presence of suffering. Shadow is distinct from a sudden impact, causing trauma, where suffering has no duration. Thus sponge has three, unconscious ways of proceeding: to receive form, while not being able to leave the subdued position of a 'user'; to give form and produce an event, while following a method with identifiable contours or; to risk annihilation in the process of probing the unclear potentiality. It is a process of suffering in the sense that there is no comprehension of an end - which in turn creates exhaustion. Suffering and panic are produced by the constant presence of these three aspects of plasticity. In turn, when an event is being produced and somewhat finalized, the three aspects of plasticity are fixed in semi-stable positions. However, the potentiality of destruction or annihilation remains present as incomprehension, shadow or doubt.

A true contingent event, as Elie Ayache writes, is "truly unpredictable" and "can be real without yet being actual". (Ayache 2011, 28-29) It is the virtual unpredictability which lies hidden in the annihilating plasticity, and not the possibility of destruction. The deterritorializing power of an event lies hidden in the virtual real of the annihilation. Beyond comprehension, there are no preceding signs of an event, such as an accident approaching. "The true contingent event creates possibilities that will have lead to it," so that the virtual potential of annihilation is an event that will reveal what might have been there all the time. (Ayache 2011, 28-29)

Artistic practice takes place in contingency and is a method without a path. It entails a conscious choice to accept the presence of shadows and the incomprehensible virtual, so that the three aspects of plasticity have potentiality to actualize. The method could be aleatory as used by the Surrealists, John Cage or Fluxus, it could be a proto-performance as employed by Baroness Elsa, No Wave and noise-music, or it could be about annihilating the identity as explored in recent projects by the Danish artist Nielsen. [7] The process seeks not to neutralize potential suffering, boredom or annihilation, but instead invites the shadow in. The shadow is the annihilating black hole, about which Deleuze and Guattari warn us, and the process may lead into a flat, pear-shaped numbness – instead of the joyous new.

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[6] I want to give my thanks to Kelina Gotman on the issue of shadow, mirror and echo. Her presentation on the philosophy of Clement Rosset at the "How Performance Thinks"-conference in London, April 2012 affected great deal on my articulation of this subject.

[7] See: