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Title: Performing as mapping : an examination of the role of site-specific performance practice as a methodology to map and/or re-imagine sites of urban regeneration
Author: Park, Adam C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 7895
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis is a practice-led enquiry that examines the role of site-specific performance as a methodology or set of tools to ‘map’ sites of urban regeneration, and thus seeks to build further links between performance and the spatial practices of architecture and urbanism. Performativity has emerged as an important critical concept across a range of social and spatial fields - as a way understanding of how personal and place identities are continuously (re)created through everyday performance. Meanwhile, practitioners and researchers have become increasingly interested in creating, documenting, and theorising models of theatre and performance that engage with sites and communities outside of the gallery or auditorium. The thesis traces the emergence of ‘site-specific’ performances as ‘more-than-representational’ cartographies - from the early experiments of the Situationist International and the ‘Happenings’, through everyday practices of walking and navigating cities, to emerging technological and ‘locative’ performance models. The definition of what constitutes (a) ‘site’ is tested by locating these practices within the broader participatory and relational ‘turns’ in contemporary art. While this ‘expansion’ has opened up opportunities for site-specific performance-makers to operate within spheres such as community engagement, wider concerns are raised by the rhetoric of ‘community empowerment’ and the instrumentalisation of creative practice by political and commissioning institutions. Keeping these issues in mind, this research builds upon Jane Rendell's call for the field of architecture and urbanism to embrace methods from public art and performance in order to operate as ‘critical spatial practices’. The thesis constructs an argument for the role of site-specific performance in articulating contested histories, claims, and potentials of the site. This proposition is explored through three case studies, including empirical and practice-based research with performance makers in complex and contested sites in northern England. This is supported by a survey of contemporary performance practices that directly address themes and sites of urban regeneration. Using the twin lenses of mapping and participation, the thesis demonstrates how performance(s) can articulate the multiplicity of stories, experiences, and potentials in marginalised or ‘interstitial’ urban sites. By introducing other agencies and temporalities to the site (‘gathering and showing’), site-specific practices have been shown to challenge dominant narratives and unsettle the stable or singular representations of places perpetuated by professional frameworks of urban development and regeneration.
Supervisor: Peng, Chengzhi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available