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Symposium: ‘Dis/Assembly of Performative Things’, performance as a strategy

Text by Leoni Fischer

Playbour Music Video, The Rodina (2015). Video still.
Playbour Music Video, The Rodina (2015). Video still

The Dis/Assembly of Performative Things is dedicated to performance as a strategy for designers to question their discipline, the contexts it operates in, and the realities it produces. The program presents designerly ways of working and thinking with and through the body that shed light on the performativity of things. They question the re/enforcement of discriminatory (gender) norms and exploitative structures through design. 

Curated by Leoni Fischer, the Dis/Assembly of Performative Things interdisciplinary symposium seeks to discuss the potential of performance as a strategy in design from an intersectional-feminist perspective. This also raises questions about design’s ethical responsibility in today’s pressing societal challenges. Design permeates our lives, from the products we consume to the technologies we use, to the infrastructures in which we navigate.

But how do objects and their use “design back” our behaviours and identities? How can the body become the site of critical design interrogation from an intersectional-feminist perspective? And what can designers learn from the performing arts? These questions are at the centre of the Dis/Assembly. The symposium’s performances, lectures and workshops offer practitioners and theorists a stage for exploration and a space for exchange. In search of connecting lines to performance art, the symposium aims at contributing to a transdisciplinary and intersectional history of performance production.

One focal point lies in performance in the context of capitalist production chains and forms of labour. Questioning the designer’s position since the discipline’s beginnings during the industrial revolution, it will be discussed how Performative Design always already acts politically when it questions the asymmetrical power structures that manifest themselves in the production and distribution of goods and our interaction with them. Furthermore, the Dis/Assembly deals with questions around the performative construction of binary (gender) identity through design. By understanding the body as a product of political and social systems, we want to raise ethical questions and speculate about alternatives.

Some of the participants are Tereza Ruller, an Amsterdam-based communication designer, an educator, and a co-founder of The Rodina; choreographer Moritz Frischkorn; and Noam Youngrak Son, the communication designer whose queer publishing and design practice has been featured at CLOT. 

The symposium* takes place from  October 26th to 27th, 2022, at VIKA e.V. art space in Halle (Saale), Germany. More Info can be found here.

*Sponsored by: Fem Power, Studium Digitale, Studentenwerk Halle and Ulmer Verein, Verband für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften e.V. The event is associated with the exhibition Juicy Things (11.10. – 06.11. 2022), which is organized by the gender equality project FEM Power and will be held at the Burg Galerie im Volkspark of the Burg Giebichenstein school in Halle.

(Image courtesy of the artists)
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