Welcome to Performing the Past! We are a research group at the University of Aberdeen from a diverse range of disciplines in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, all with a shared interest in performance in all its forms – from theatrical and musical performance to performance in the sphere of the visual arts to religious practice and ritual. Under the rubric of “performing the past,” this group seeks to identify ways of employing performance to bring past events, figures or works of art to life through various performance media (sound, light, choreography), so that phenomena from the past emerge as presences whose fascinating and often uncanny otherness can be experienced in the present moment and made accessible to a wide array of audiences. Consequently, a focus of the group is public engagement, as researchers in different fields come together to utilize performance to showcase their work in various strands of the humanities. It is also focused on research-led teaching, and integrating performativity into the classroom experience.
Our approach to this topic is based on recent developments across performance studies, media theory, visual culture, sound-studies and post-deconstructive thought (particularly the work of Jean-Luc Nancy and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht). These developments indicate a shift of attention away from an engagement with art whereby the primary focus is on the transmission, interpretation or attribution of an identifiable meaning or significance. Instead, scholarship across these fields has increasingly focused on the performative and material specificity of art and creative practices, and on the way in which these produce or perform ‘presence’ as a tangible, material, perceptual event, however ephemeral or fleeting this may be.
*Bringing the collections at Aberdeen University to life through performance
*Performance as pedagogy: performative elements in the classroom
*“Contemporancient”: performance art and ancient Scandinavian texts (AHRC-funded)
*“Situationist Aberdeen”: engaging and inspiring students to create performances on campus and in and around Aberdeen (currently part of an AHRC-funded Early Career Fellowship)
*Connections between East European performance art and Aberdeen/the Northeast of Scotland (past funding: Royal Society of Edinburgh, Carnegie Trust, Leverhulme Trust; current funding: AHRC)
*Sonic arts as performance: exploring new sound technologies as performance tools
*Performance as creative practice, performance as ritual practice
Associate Members: Neil Curtis, Liz Curtis, Pete Stollery, Jo Vergunst, Tim Ingold, Andrea Teti, Jasmina Zaloznik (Elphinstone PhD scholarship recipient), Ed Welch, Paul Flaig, Alan Paterson, Anne Valyo, Frederik Pedersen, Tara Beaney, Aideen O’Leary, Frauke Jugersen, Joachim Schaper, Philip Cooke, Karen Salt, Helen Lynch