Performance Research Group


Martina-Sofie Wildberger, Philippe Sormani, Thibault Walter


Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich


Twice a year


Yaël Kreplak (Paris), Hunter Longe (Geneva)

In a polemic essay, performance artist Andrea Fraser famously lamented the worldly success of the notion of “performance” (Fraser 2014). From designating a particular genre of contemporary art,
 the notion is said and seen by Fraser, and others (e.g., Bishop 2017), to have turned into an umbrella term devoid of its former specificity. Indeed, virtually any cultural production – be it in the arts, design, science, or technology – nowadays happens to be characterized as somehow “performative.”

The research program of our work group takes its cue from this emerging multiplicity, its famous lamentation, and critical rejoinders (e.g., Raunig and Ray 2009; Wilson 2018). The program engages a post-disciplinary conversation on performance art and artistic research, while taking a particular interest in research commitments, artistic interventions, and their multifaceted interplay, be it in terms of material practices, poetic implications, or institutional engagements. In this context, “post-disciplinary conversation” stands as a proxy for a both performance-enabling and inquiry-based dialogue in situ, a dialogue which avoids rehearsing existing positions, practices, and politics, but aims at articulating, if not subverting them in its process. Therefore, the research program, from one year to another, will change in substance and subject(s), while the work group will be curating the unfolding conversation.

To launch the program next year (2023), we plan to revisit the “poetics of conversation”, a longstanding theme in conversation analysis (Jefferson 1977), and (re-)examine how it plays out, may be probed, or happens to be problematized in performance art. For the purpose, we will draw on the theme’s recent uptake in literary studies (Person et al. 2022) to probe its material interest in and for performance art, both in the light of our own work and interventions by invited performers. Also, we are considering inviting Robin Wooffitt, sociologist and co-editor of the cited volume, for a hybrid event – part performance, part workshop – due to take place in early summer or early autumn 2023. To document the results of the event, we also envisage a publication whose format remains to be determined.

G. Jefferson’s 1977 lecture can be accessed here:

R. Woffitt’s 2022 co-edited volume here: