Performing Stillness: Community in Waiting
The concerns explored in Card 7 and Card 8 were elaborated as part of a journal article 'From Passivity to Potential: The Communitas of Stillness' which was subsequently developed as a chapter entitled, 'Performing Stillness: Community in Waiting', published in Stillness in a Mobile World, (eds.) David Bissell and Gillian Fuller (Routledge, 2010).
Drawing on the experience of working in collaboration with the artist-led project, Open City, this chapter explores the potential of an active and resistant - rather than passive and acquiescent – form of stillness that can be activated strategically within a performance-based practice. I investigate the potential within forms of stillness specifically produced in and by contemporary capitalism, by reflecting on how they might be (re)inhabited as sites of critical action. With reference to the writing of Gilles Deleuze – especially in relation to Spinoza’s Ethics – the article explores how the asignifying or affective possibilities produced by the collective performance of stillness can be understood as a mode of playful resistance to or refusal of habitual social norms as well as additionally producing the germinal conditions for a nascent community of experience no longer bound by existing protocol, a model of “communitas” emerging from the shared act of being still.
About the publication
This edited collection of essays on the conceptual, political and philosophical importance of stillness is positioned within a world that has increasingly come to be understood through the theoretical and conceptual lens of movement. With contributions from leading scholars in the field, the diversity of this collection illuminates the multiplicity of ontological and epistemological registers through which stillness moves: from human geography to media studies, cultural theory to fine arts. With the help of luminaries such as Deleuze, Bergson, Barthes and Beckett, this book interweaves cutting-edge theoretical insight with empirical illustrations which examine and traverse a multitude of practices, spaces and events. In an era where stasis, slowness and passivity are often held to be detrimental, this collection puts forward a new set of political and ethical concerns which help us to come to terms with, understand, and account for (im)mobile life.