In this online seminar with artist and 2013-14 OSE alumnus Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau we explored the development of performativity (the idea that language can construct the things it describes) by looking at a range of texts on the subject by J.L Austin, Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick and Sara Ahmed.
We thought about performativity more broadly, and explored how situations can be created through language, but also through actions, conventions and context.
We discussed how performativity relates to our experiences of the internet. Online platforms performatively construct the conventions of their use, and we in turn use these platforms as stages on which we perform our emotions, status and politics.
We looked at how artists have used online platforms to stage new kinds of performative interventions, critiquing the ideological underpinnings of the organisations who control our experience of the internet. Finally, we thought about how we might use the idea of performativity in our own creative practices, as a theoretical model, a research tool, and as a way to make new work.
At the end of the session, Matt set a related research task to be completed for the next seminar.
This seminar took place online via Google Hangouts. If you missed this session you can watch a recording of the first part of the seminar below. You can also find a transcript of the session here.
Suggested reading and resources
Lecture one of J.L. Austin’s ‘How to do Things With Words’ (PDF)
Speaking Disgust, section of ‘The Performativity of Disgust’ by Sara Ahmed from ‘The Cultural Politics of Emotion’ (PDF)
Judith Butler’s ‘Theory of Gender Performativity’ (video)
About the artist
Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau creates sculptures, drawings, performances and films. His work addresses ugliness and taste, negative affective states, and the ambiguities of language and objects. His current research interests include exploring the awkward aesthetic possibilities of medieval art through painting and digital animation, utilising culturally abject food and other materials to make sculpture, and understanding the formation of reactionary political sentiments through affect theory and performance. An Associate of Open School East, 2013-2014, he is currently resident artist at Kingsgate Workshops. This seminar is part of his Open School East artist commission.