Call for Proposals


Performance Research 18.1 (February 2013):

‘On Labour & Performance’

Proposal Deadline: 24th April 2012 (see below for details)

Issue Editors: Gabriele Klein & Bojana Kunst

Performance practice has always been tightly intertwined with the exploration of, and experimentation with modes of working, collaborating and producing artistic work. Throughout the twentieth-century the development of new collaborative processes and the organisation of artistic work, happened or was critically addressed, in parallel to political and economic change. Over the last two decades modes of working in performance have been of central concern and, in many cases, have redefined the cultural and political framings of performance practice. The process of artistic work came into the foreground, new forms of collaboration and exchange were developed and conditions of performance production were redefined. Performance has opened itself up as a broad field of exploration for many creative and working processes, and the focus of such work lies in exchanges of collaboration and experimentation, and in the development of discourse and research. It was believed somehow that with such new processes of work, the institutional and normative boundaries of performance could be critically readdressed, alongside the potentiality of performance practice to challenge the established orders of the production and dissemination of artistic products.

One of the important aesthetic and political outcomes of these explorations is that labour has become somehow visible in performance work. Research formats and open forms, educational frames, works in progress, presentations of artistic processes have become an important part of the production and exchange of discourses around performance. These various practical explorations have had an important influence on new modes of sharing artistic methodologies, developing knowledge and the re-evaluation of the work itself. They have provided an insight and an important awareness of how artists work and bring performance practice into proximity with other changed modes of labour under contemporary capitalism. If we reflect upon them from the perspective of post-Fordism (Virno) or the contemporary production of subjectivity (Lazaratto) we can discover many parallels between modes of production in performance and contemporary flexible, collaborative and precarious modes of working. The labour of the performance artist is directly related to the production of artistic subjectivity, which in turn is in correspondence with changing modes of labour in contemporary society.

In this issue of Performance Research we would like to address these similarities and provide an insight into the role of performance in relation to new forms of labour and new modes of employing human forces under contemporary capitalism. There is a need to readdress the conditions of work again, but this time to approach them in the knowledge that performance has already developed inside its own field and connected itself to other forms of contemporary cultural production. Especially in recent years, under the pressure of crisis, a general re-structuring of the cultural and educational spheres of contemporary society, as well asgrowing attempts to re-evaluate artistic work in general, there exists a need to rethink the processes of making art and art making and connect it to the question of labour. Any reflections on the processes of labour are therefore deeply connected with ways in which the artist’s role is re-evaluated through the economic and political crisis, especially in relation to current cultural and political discussions about the applicability of knowledge and imaginative and creative practices.

We would like to address the topic of labour in performance from various perspectives and in various formats. We strongly encourage theoretical examinations, artists’ writings, analyses of performances, written exchanges and proposals on the following possible topics:

1. Performance, Post-Fordism and Labour,

– ways in which artists labour

– performance and contemporary political theory, post-Fordist theories of production

– performance practice as a timely and bodily based practice;  flexible, nomadic and precarious conditions of artistic work

– immaterial work and performance

– possible proximities between performance practice and contemporary modes of labour: virtuosity, affective work,

exploration of language skills, production of knowledge, experimentation with subjectivity

– historical aspects of the relation between performance and modes of production under capitalism

– the role of craftsmanship, skills and de-skilling in performance practice

– collaborative modes of working from the perspective of new modes of labour

– art works that involve labour and labour relations

– labour and artistic institutions

2.   Research, the educational turn and process oriented work

– the artist as a researcher; research modes in performance in relation to new modes of labour

– the educational turn in performance: how to enable inventive and experimental practices

– visibility of work in performance and development of formats: showings, work in progress, workshops

– resistance to applicability and re-evaluation of artistic education: strategies and models of artistic and performance


– the role of residencies in contemporary performance production and in the relation to nomadic conditions

– being in the process: artistic processes in the light of precarisation of work, flexibility of subjectivity and ‘life-learning’

education (Virno)

3. Economisation and the re-evaluation of artistic work in current cultural production

– the value of the work: performance artist and economisation of its practice

– labour value: performance artist and capitalistic production

– nomadic conditions of contemporary performance productions

– new temporal and spatial politics of performance production

– modes of ‘unworking’ in contemporary performance

– inactivity, laziness, idleness as practices of performance

– lines of waste, inefficiency, stagnation as cultural and performance practices

– acceleration and over-abundance of cultural production

The issue will gather perspectives from a range of fields. Proposals are invited from any relevant area. The format of Performance Research allows for artist’s pages and other visual representations as well as articles, interviews, documents or reviews.


Proposals: 24th April 2012

First Drafts: 30th July 2012

Final Drafts: 17th September 2012

Publication Date: February 2013

ALL proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to: Becci Curtis <>

Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors: <> / <>

General Guidelines for Submissions:

Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or RTF). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side. Please DO NOT send images electronically without prior agreement.  Please note that submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere. By submitting a manuscript, the author(s) agree that the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the article have been given to Performance Research.