"Fertilism" by the Kukkia Group (Karolina Kucia and Tero Nauha) at Kajaani Theatre Symposium, 2007.

Camera: Markus Öhrn


In performance practice, whether involved in the making of or the witnessing of an event, there is a discrepancy between the signified matter of flux and the nondiscursive and affective. Often the material flux or the existential territory of corporeality and objects is not fully signified, in other words not everything is represented as ‘meaning something’. The complexity of the event is not fully articulated in the collective enunciation, which for me is the sole difference between the mediated entertainment and the performance practice that I am here predicating. In the latter, both the performer and the audience know by heart how the Concorde should fly. In the performance event – the schizoanalytic performance practice, which is the topic here – the performer and witness share the incongruous fluxes of signification and asignified potentialities, and not only the predictable flow of things and emotions.

When I am not able to signify or interpret what moves me, affect bypasses Phylum and links with a potential, yet nondiscursive reference (U). All four domains are affected and for a moment put into a destabilized movement for a potential ‘new’. Territory (T) is being altered and potentiality released into a new form of signification in the domain of the Real. New is not a repetition of affected refrains, but destabilization of the existential territory of subjectivity. However, in order to produce support for the new, repetition is required, in other words production of collective enunciation. The production of the new is a production of these minor, and occasionally dominant refrains. Such refrains of collective enunciation are affective and precarious. It is not a recombination of discourses, but a production of new and minor refrains of subjectivities. When recombination itself is not virtual, but a repetition of the actual and signified, then recombination lacks true political power, and only repeats the already signified. Agonisms or antagonisms are put forth only through movement caused by the presence of the nondiscursive potentials, altering the four domains.

However, minor refrains of the potential are not gateways to production of the new. A refrain may also be a catastrophe and annihilation of subjectivity; negative plasticity and reversal of the event. It is the shadow or the difference of the new: the destructive side of plasticity. Refrains may become simple automatisms, as Akseli Virtanen and Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi define while describing the precarious process of production of the new. [12] The refrain of artistic practice would, and I would say it inevitably will, be commodified or reterritorialized as a fixed relation between a machine and flux. Some crude examples of this are for instance how ‘punk was sold out’ or how 1970s body art became mainstream in the styling of superstar sideshow artists like David Blaine.

In the event of performance there is transversality between the performer and the audience. Similarly with transference in the Freudian tradition, Guattari’s concept of transversality is not a ‘hypnotic’ relation between members of a group, but rather a production of both conflicting and confluent refrains within the group; the production of narratives based on the affects and unconscious desires within the group [13]. Transversality produces nonsignifying gaps and breaks in the group, between the performer and the witnesses. (Watson 2009, 23-31) Witnessing performance produces knowledge, which is discursive and nondiscursive, territorial and fleeing singular existential territory. The knowledge is embodied but not altogether signified, thus an event produces conflict between the previous refrains and with the already signified relationships between the Machines, Fluxes, Territories and Universes.

Photo: Markus Öhrn

Next section: The mess of contamination

Previous section: The metamodelization of Félix Guattari

[12] “Multitude does not express itself as autonomy, but as dependency on automatisms and self-evidencies which the arbitrary power builds everywhere in our everyday life, in our senses, sensibilities, and psyche. This is the discreet charm of the precariat which turns wealth into misery, potentiality into anxiety, creativity into dependency. Swarm does not have a political soul, but an automatic soul.” (Virtanen and Berardi 2010, 41-42)

[13] ”Transversality in the group is a dimension opposite and complementary to the structures that generate pyramidal hierarchization and sterile ways of transmitting messages. Transversality is the unconscious source of action in the group, going beyond the objective laws on which it is based, carrying the group’s desire […] It is my hypothesis that there is nothing inevitable about the bureaucratic self-mutilation of a subject group, or its unconscious resort to mechanisms that militate against its potential transversality. They depend, from the first moment, on an acceptance of the risk – which accompanies the emergence of any phenomenon of real meaning – of having to confront irrationality, death, and the otherness of the other.” (Guattari 1984,22-23)