Becoming together: collaborative labour in contemporary performance practice

Colin, Noyale (2015) Becoming together: collaborative labour in contemporary performance practice. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

Performance, in its multi-participant aspects, tends to emphasise the relationship between the individual and the collective. Through an examination of practices of co-working in contemporary performing arts, and with a particular focus on choreographic practices, the thesis develops a theory of co-labouring grounded in the idea of an economy of belonging.

Borrowing from Brian Massumi’s concept of ‘becoming-together’ (Massumi, 2002, 2011), this thesis assumes that the development of a sense of belonging is bound to temporal processes of becoming, and that such transient ways of being can be identified as central to an understanding of current collective formations. The thesis argues that the notion of becoming together in performance-making is likely to promote an ethics of belonging which foregrounds the practitioner’s affective commitment to the other, to relational modes of working and encompasses multiple and open-ended action modes.

Co-labouring in performance is revealed as a site of human interaction which can yield new insights into the construction of contemporary digital collective identities. Building on post and para-human ideas of the multiplicity of self (Rotman, 2008), co-working is presented as a way to address the relationship between individual and collective becoming in advanced technological society. A central aim of the thesis is to investigate how far relational modes of working can enhance performance-making and the practitioner’s experience and sense of the self. Engaging with post-autonomist ideas of immaterial labour (Lazzarato, 1996; Negri, 2008), the thesis further assesses the extent to and conditions under which contemporary practices demonstrate patterns of resistance to dominant modes of working.

The complexities of modes of co-working are examined through the use of a reflective research metadiscourse, which incorporates distinct registers of practice, commentary and analysis. These include a historical register, the use of case studies, and a practice-led stream of inquiry bound-in to and tied back to the theoretical. This approach allows for a multidimensional but also a critical view of modes of co-labouring; it reveals that an informed coworking is bound to the possibility of individual transformation for the co-workers in performance. In other words, the thesis argues that performance mastery (Melrose, 2003) can be seen as partly constituted by the participants’ negotiation of the relationship between the individual and collective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
B. > Theses
Item ID: 21169
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2017 12:59
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2017 15:34
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/21169

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