The cluster PHILO-PERFORMANCE(s) intends to trace the contours of a field of academic and artistic interrogations around the dialogue between philosophy and performing and cinematic arts. We wish to address a fundamental question which has relentlessly pursued such an exchange through time, and which has resurfaced in multiple ways within contemporary theoretical and artistic developments.

This question is that of “reality”. Perpetually raised in philosophy, the question of the “real” is also at the heart of creative processes in performing and cinematic arts. This cluster would like to draw on the multitude of treatments of the real by philosophy (as deployed within various historical periods and cultural traditions) and, respectively, on a central questioning within performing arts (as well as cinema), which has most emphatically dealt with the real – the concept and practice of “performance”. We thus envisage to initiate a debate around the correspondences that can be established between philosophy and performance on the theme of the real.

As a first set of questions, we would like to compare the ways in which contemporary philosophy (continental, as well as analytical) and experimental (or “avant-garde”) movements within performing and cinematic arts have approached the real. 

As concerns contemporary philosophy, the latter has brought forward a sustained questioning of the division between subjective and non-subjective reality, which it had inherited from modern philosophy (in the wake of Kant). Certain philosophical approaches (those inspired by phenomenological ideas) have reinforced such a division, applying themselves to the examination of subjective reality as the only accessible reality. Other “voices” (from French post-structuralism to various contemporary neo-realist trends) have called this perspective into question, pleading for the need to integrate the subject into the real. 

As for performing and cinematic arts, the question of the relationship between performance and the real was raised as a pivotal one within experimental theatre, film and numerous “performance art” manifestations. Performance has been defined as an artistic process which comes into being by means of using the real itself as material. Moreover, like contemporary philosophy, experimental performance art interrogates the real through the prism of the latter’s division between an objective reality (space-time aspects such as historical context, narrative and events) and a performative “expressive” reality, marking the presence of subjects (characters, artists, actors, spectators…).

This parallel between contemporary philosophy and experimental performing and cinematic arts is only one component (centered on contemporary experimental developments in Western culture) of the Philo-performance(s) cluster. We also encourage contributions that reference other historical periods and different philosophical and artistic movements, including non-Western thought and artistic practices.