performingborders is a curatorial research-platform that explores the relations between Live Art and notions and lived experiences of cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, class, physical, economic, and everyday borders.
Co-run by Alessandra Cianetti and Xavier de Sousa, performingborders hosts monthly interviews and guest posts, and series of related events and artist commissions under the banner of performingbordersLIVE which interrogate the practices of international performers that are responding to challenging notions of contemporary borders with their proliferating and increasingly heterogeneous natures and pervasive presence.
Initiated by curator Alessandra Cianetti in February 2016, performingborders platform has been joined by Xavier de Sousa in 2018 with his queeringborders interview series focusing on contemporary migrant-identifying queer artists whose work is directly influenced by that experience.
performingborders is inspired by political theorists Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson’s approach to borders as methods, by international Live Art theories and practices, and by the amazing work of all the live artists, academics and Live Art professionals who contribute to the platform. From the perspective of ‘border as method’, the ephemerality, flexibility, and resilience of live art practices become a privileged way to investigate urgent current societal and political changes and struggles within and across borders:
‘Method for us is as much about acting on the world as it is about knowing it. […] it is about the relation of action to knowledge in situations where many different knowledge regimes and practices come into conflict. Border as method involves negotiating the boundaries between the different kinds of knowledge that come to bear on the border and, in so doing, aims to throw light on the subjectivities that come into being through such conflicts. […] the border is for us not so much a research object as an epistemological viewpoint that allows an acute critical analysis not only of how relations of domination, dispossession, and exploitation are being redefined presently but also of the struggles that take shape around these changing relations. The border can be a method precisely insofar as it is conceived of as a site of struggle.’ Mezzadra and Neilson, political theorists, 2013
‘[W]e really focused on the border as a site of possibilities, as a spiral model as opposed to a dividing line and with the whole idea of the artist as a social thinker, as a binational diplomat, as an alternative chronicler […] So I think that the border method – the border way of working as an artist – implies crossing of internal borders between multiple milieus and multiple contexts.’ Guillermo Gómez-Peña, live artist, 2009
Alessandra Cianetti is a London-based curator, creative producer, and researcher. Her work explores urgent socio-political issues with a focus on notions and lived experiences of physical, cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, economic borders. She is the founder of performingborders, a curatorial digital research platform and series of national and international public programmes around art and borders. From April 2014 to March 2018, Alessandra has been co-director of the London-based arts organisation Something Human. She has worked on multi-disciplinary live and visual art projects across the UK, Europe, and internationally in partnership with arts organisations, institutions, community centres, and universities such as, among others, the Barbican Centre, the Live Art Development Agency, Tate Britain, South London Gallery, Bonington Gallery, King’s College London, Birkbeck University, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, City of Skopje, Ikona Gallery Venice, FEFÈ Project Rome. Her activities have been supported, among others, by the Arts Council England, the European Cultural Foundation, the National Arts Council Singapore, and the Fire Station Artists’ Studios Dublin.
Xavier de Sousa is an independent performance maker, curator and producer based between Brighton and Lisbon. His practice explores personal and political heritage within the context of discourse on belonging, nationalism and migration. Through theatrical and durational work, he explores the dichotomies between the live experience and agency in the performance space. Xavier is currently developing a trilogy of works about belonging and power structures, kickstarted with his first theatre show, POST (touring) and REGNANT (HOME, June 2020). Xavier also curates the digital series queeringborders, live programme performingbordersLIVE and New Queers on the Block, The Marlborough Theatre’s Touring and Artist Development Programme. Previously, he has collaborated with Tim Etchells, Rosana Cade, The Famous Lauren Barri-Holstein, and presented work with Latitude Festival, Tate Modern, Vogue Fabrics, Southbank Centre, The Yard Theatre, CITEMOR (Portugal), Operastate Festival (Italy), Onassis Culture Centre (Athens), Kalamata Dance Festival (Greece) amongst others.
The first phase of the ‘performingborders. conversations on live art | crossings | europe’ project (February 2016 – February 2017) was initiated as part of the MRes in Arts: Theory and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins – UAL, London Alessandra Cianetti undertook from 2014 to 2016. Many thanks to Dr. Chris Kul-Want, Dr. Karl Baker and fellow students for their invaluable support, advice, and time for conversations.