On the beginning of 2016, we decided (Kostas Tzimoulis, Vassilis Noulas and Gigi Arguropoulou) to organize the Performance Biennial, a DIY, self organized guerrilla Biennial about Performance which stands ironically around the notions of Biennial but also of Performance and how they used in the neoliberal cultural landscape.
The first edition of the Performance Biennial took place on 23 June to 4 July in Greece. Emerging from DIY self-organised cultural practices appearing during these past years in Athens, in a present without a future, this event seeks to critically interrogate the role of performance, historically and in the present, in relation to political and social materialities and imaginaries. Playfully subverting the term ‘biennial’ into a self-organised practice, the event will test self-instituted forms of culture and politics. Under the title “No Future” this guerrilla biennial will bring together forms of artistic, political and theoretical practice and discourse questioning the potential of a collective refusal to a referred futurity.
The Performance Biennial in its first iteration will begin in the occupied cultural space of Green Park, Athens, open out to embrace the park of Pedion tou Areos (transl. to Field of Mars – one of two central parks in Athens), and then depart via boat from Piraeus to the island of Cythera that geographically belongs to the Prefecture of Athens. Seeking to problematise the role of performance in the neoliberal narrative we will collectively engage in ongoing disruptions between the institution and the self-instituted, between buildings and parks, between the centre and the periphery, between urban and rural. The event will bring together both conventional and non-conventional investigations including: performances, talks, lecture-performances, workshops, discussions, interventions, city walks, community works, actions and screenings.
The notion and the myth of the future based on normative regulatory culture and a capitalist imaginary embraces a drive for ongoing progress, improvement and expansion. The operation of “debt” also implies a bet on the future as Lazzarato argues “by training the governed to “promise” (to honour their debt) capitalism exercises “control over future” … possessing the future in advance by objectifying it’ (2012: 46). What happens to political and cultural practice when it turns its back on “the future”? When the relation to the future appears fugitive? When continuity of the canonical is disrupted and a promised futurity cannot yet be imagined? Can this ruptured futurity offer us new possibilities to engage with the present and produce new relations with time? Can such impotential practices of a “here and now” offer new ways to engage with a “then and there” that in turn sketch different worlds to come?
Building on DIY experiments such as the reactivation of Embros theatre and Green Park in Athens, this inaugural Performance Biennial proposes a series of paradigm shifts in the modes of practicing, and of taking part in the political and cultural in order to critically interrogate the potential for radical experiments in cultural production. This guerrilla Performance Biennial will operate through a practice of “self-curating” as assembling. Resisting hierarchies and categorisations the programme consists of timezones of conflictual “fields” and practices that will be co-curated with the participants in a changing here and now.