The Gaze is Us! Conference on Spectatorship.

On Wednesday 23/03/2011 from 10am to 18pm in Balzaal Vooruit / Ghent (Belgium) will be held the conference entitled The Gaze is Us! (conference on spectatorship).

I did not know the word spectatorship …anyhow. here is a little more on this very interesting conference which I would have liked to attend but I will traveling to York for the academy for another very interesting seminar and visit.

In many performative events the “spectator” is no longer a silent, physically distant observer/viewer. The distance between stage and audience, that has been regarded a hallmark of theatrical performance (Pavis) is being radically erased in recent performances who move, walk and guide their spectators through theatre buildings and public spaces. Spectators, or rather participants, become obviously active agents whose presence constitutes the process of the performance: The activity of the spectator, that has been situated firmly within the audiences psyche by Aristoteles (catharsis) and within the audiences minds by Bertold Brecht (crirtical distance), is “getting physical” (after the political theatre of the 1970ies) once more. Theatre Theory follows the practice, and Fischer-Lichte (2004) discusses the “feedback loop” between performers and audience as a vivid energy that constitutes each theatrical performance: No performance without the spectator´s presence. But, what is a spectator, or rather: In which ways are spectators active and present in nowadays performances?
Academic discourses constantly re-define  concepts of spectatorship. After semiotics, sociology and reception aesthetics, who rather consider “the spectator” as a fixed entity whose place in society, process of meaning-making and taste can be researched upon, we consider spectators as constantly shifting entities who are constituted in the processes of performances, and vice versa. Thus, we rather ask for their (bodily and sensorial) activities and relationships to the performers.
In the scheduled conference, we will thus discuss historical developments of spectatorship since the Baroque, recent discourses of “spectators” moving bodies in urban spaces, and the relational aesthetics of currently shifting positions of performers and spectators.

Concept: Katharina Pewny, Christel Stalpaert / Dep. of Theatre, Performance and Media Studies, Ghent University

Organization: Jeroen Coppens, David Depestel / Dep. of Theatre, Performance and Media Studies, Ghent University, Vooruit / Tom Bonte

Conference presented by Ghent University’s S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts and Media) and Kunstencentrum Vooruit, as a part of the third festival “The Game is Up”.

The conference will be held in English.



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