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Shifting Landscapes

14th August 2021

Over the past year, performingborders have been reflecting, holding spaces, and discussions with our ‘critical friends’ – to open up the systems and structures that we have employed in our work over the past few years. We want performingborders to be more border-free, borderless, or as borderless as it can be under capitalist structures that we are forced to navigate. 

This approach to research, artistic practice, gathering, and collective thinking has allowed us to look at new ways in which the performingborders platform can expand our artistic and intellectual landscapes, but also the composition of the group itself. Anahi Saravia Herrera has recently joined performingborders as we continue to seed new perspectives in our research. 

Throughout the past eight months, we have been thinking through collectivity, language, and horizontality as areas we want to develop in our research and approaches to Live and performance art in relation to intersectional borders. This includes interrogating what collectivity means as we work to resist hard structures within performingborders and working to break barriers that stop people from participating and contributing to the platform. It involves thinking through all the potential languages at our disposal and how we can use them to challenge the Western-centric and neo-liberal language that permeates our day-to-day. We also want to dismantle the hierarchical systems imposed on cultural work and instead work horizontally, in the way we produce, commission, create, and care. 

In this newsletter, the members of performingborders Xav, Ale, and Anahi, reflect on the past year in their own way, in their own voices, weaving in reflections on the shifting landscapes of our artistic, intellectual, and working conditions. These thoughts are not conclusive, but part of an ongoing process of unraveling and developing our thinking. 

We are also joined by Istanbul Queer Art Collective, a group very dear to us and who have been collaborating with us over the years and whom we commissioned to explore forms of possession in and outside of performance, in response to our ongoing conversations with the Performance, Possession & Automation research-project. 

We are slowly and collectively growing new ideas and hope to spread these through the shifting performingborders ecosystem. As we expand and explore new ways of thinking and working, we welcome you to cross-pollinate these spaces with us. More on this to come!

Critical friends include: Dana Seghal, Elena Marchevska, Emma Beverley, Jemima Yong, Kris Nelson, Lois Keidan, Season Butler, Stella Kanu, Tom Green, Vijay Matthew.

Shifting Landscapes: A journal, Un diario | Alessandra Cianetti

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Washing/Tracks/Maintenance: Outside (July 23, 1973)

A journal of scattered thoughts where the past eight months bleed into a fictional timeline of previous years’ memories, a thick-to-navigate present, and sparks of future. 

An uneven journey into fragmented reflections that are looking at performingborders through the lenses of the conversations had with the platform’s critical friends, the books read, the shows watched, and the many narratives and detours they offer.

Shifting Landscapes: Entre acá y allá, Encuentros Solitarios | Anahi Saravia Herrera

Encuentros, Anahi Saravia Herrera

A gentle exploration of the expansive language of grief and its potential to connect, resist, protest and – shift landscapes – between living, other, personal, and political. 

Anahi speaks through a mix of memories, languages, research, and fiction to create an imperfect, inaccurate ritual for grief at a distance. In a time that feels empty without ritual, this is an offering to all of those who need it. 

Shifting Landscapes: On temporalities and process of transformation | Dinis Machado

Performance of ‘Yellow Puzzle Horse’, Dinis Machado

In this interview Xavier de Sousa and choreographer Dinis Machado take a winding conversation in ‘broken english’ through trajectories – both personal and artistic – and debate what it is to work across borders, across genders and languages and how those impact our own understanding of ourselves and our practices.

Whatever Possessed You To Perform? | Istanbul Queer Art Collective

Doodle Quote by Tuna Erdem 2011

In this text, Istanbul Queer Art Collective reflect on “automation and possession in live art and performance”. This commissioned reflective piece is part of performingborders’ ongoing conversation with the Performance, Possession & Automation research- project, funded by Arts Council England and by Queen Mary University of London’s Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund.

The texts by performingborders are a part of the performingborders 2021 programme, supported by Arts Council England.

Alessandra Cianetti is a London-based curator, creative producer, and practice-based researcher. Her collaborative work explores urgent socio-political issues with a focus on the transformational power of visual and live art practices that embody notions and lived experiences of physical and intersectional borders. She is the founder of performingborders.

Anahi Saravia Herrera (she/her) is a London-based writer, producer, and community organiser. Anahi is physically based in the “west” but as much as possible, creates work in the Latinx diaspora, she was born in La Paz, Bolivia. 

Her practice revolves around a creative research process that leads to creating anything from playlists and sounds to writing, collaborating with others, and performances at the intersection of the everyday. It is a collaborative, process-led practice driven by intuition. Archives and language are a core part of her practice and she often works from a collected archive of memories, sounds, notes, and family photographs. Creative methods of exploring the politics of feminism and anti-racism are at the forefront of Anahi’s practice. She is an organizer with feminist groups such as the Feminist Assembly of Latin Americans as well as the Designer and Cultural Workers Union. Anahi is a member of performingborders. @anahi_saravia

Dinis Machado (They, Ela, Hen) With a background in dance and visual art, Dinis Machado’s work is informed by how the sculptural construction of objects, spaces and bodies is reclaimed and worked as choreographic material. In a post-somatic perspective, and caring about bodies that do not conceive, perform or imagine themselves as they are medically described, Machado works with ideas of mutation and transformation – psychedelic bodies that they imagine, claim, and consubstantiate for themselves.

Born in Porto, Machado has been based in Stockholm since 2012. They studied MA Choreography DOCH (Stockholm), Independent Studies Program at Maumaus – Visual Arts (Lisbon), BA in Theatre by ESTC (Lisbon) and studied ballet and contemporary dance at Balleteatro (Porto) from 1994-2002. In 2020 Machado was awarded the Birgit Cullberg Stipendium by the Swedish Art Grants Committee / Konstnärsnämnden.

Their works Site Specific For Nowhere and Cyborg Sunday were part of Moderna Museet’s quadrennial Moderna¬utställning¬en (2018). Their work has been presented in Austria, Croatia, Uruguay, France, Sweden, Germany, England, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Portugal in contexts such as ImpulsTanz, Weld, Dance 4, Chelsea Theatre, FIDCU, NAVE, Festival Arqueologias Del Futuro, ZDB/Negócio, METAL, Chisenhale Dance Space, Colchester Arts Centre, Rivoli, CCB, Festival DDD, Citemor, AGORA, Reflektor M, among others.

Istanbul Queer Art Collective was founded in 2012 to engage in live art, with a view that the documentation of performance is an art form in itself. The collective is currently based in London and is comprised of its two founding members Tuna Erdem and Seda Ergul, who are firm believers in what Jack Halberstam calls the “queer art of failure” and what Renate Lorenz calls “radical drag”. Their performances range from the durational to the intimate and can morph towards other forms like sound art or installation. IQAC has performed at various art events around the world among which are: House of Wisdom Exhibition in Amsterdam and Nottingham; If Independent Film Festival and Mamut Art Fair in Istanbul, Athens Sound Acts Festival in Greece, Zürcher Theatre Spektakel and Les Belles de Nuit in Zurich and Deep Trash, Queer Migrant Takeover and NSA: Queer Salon in London.

Xavier de Sousa (he/they) is an independent performance maker and culture worker based between Brighton and Lisbon, whose practice explores personal and political heritage within the context of discourse on belonging and migration.

Through theatrical, durational performance and moving image, Xavier explores the dichotomies between the live experience and agency in the performance space, as well as written text and queer methodologies of performance and research.

Alongside his performance work, Xavier has written for publications such as In Other Words (2020), Les Cahiers Luxembourgeous and Centre National de Littérature Luxembourg (2021). He curates the digital platform and commissioning programme performingborders and New Queers on the Block, Marlborough Productions’ Artistic and Community Development Programme. He is co-founder of Producer Gathering and activist group Migrants in Culture. He is a member of BECTU and ITC.

Image credits: performingborders

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