Performance Studies

The notion of performance is present in many diverse fields today, from economics to engineering and information technologies, to social media, sports and culture. We may indeed live in the ‘age of performance’ where the value of human and nonhuman action is largely determined by how successfully and effectively someone or something performs. Richard Schechner has famously approached performance as the ‘showing doing’ to others in theatre and in society. This does not mean that the performing subject fakes a character, but instead that she bears awareness of being seen by specific audiences and in particular contexts. Performance is thus entangled with processes of doing, valuing, sensing, situating and modifying, in today’s complex experience- and attention economy. In times of increased obsession with the performance of one’s own self, studying the mechanisms of performance-making and -seeing can help you develop knowledge, criticality and imagination of yourselves as acting agents in the world.

A time might be coming when the most radical politicization of art will be its detachment from any kind of economic value in order to reveal new affective and aesthetic articulations of the community

Bojana Kunst, Artist at Work, 2015

The errant carnality of a materiality making life and world away from neoliberal ideals of creativity and creative labor, is what I call the political potential of 'imagination'

André Lepecki, Singularities: Dance in the Age of Performance, 2016

At UCU, performance is explored as a practice that can help you not only make sense of the world, but also think of how we can implement change. It is specifically proposed as a lens for analyzing and experiencing movement, language, image and sound, which enables you to develop a critical and perceptive attitude towards the ‘making of’ performance in and outside of theatre. The courses will provide you the tools for understanding both the forms, techniques and strategies of artistic performance, and how this knowledge can help you intervene in the diverse settings of meaning- and experience-making today. While acquiring experience in performance making, performing and spectating, you will be introduced to an international contemporary performance landscape and visit a range of artistic events. At UCU we are selective in what and how we teach, aiming to incorporate contextually relevant theories, authors and methods, that can support the practical and theoretical learning. All courses will guide you towards a well-informed selection, framing and problematizing of a research concern, while applying your Liberal Arts and Sciences mindset to examine it in an open, critical and sharp manner.