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Title: In search of the numinous : performative apparatuses of experimentation with technologies of the self
Author: Battista, Silvia
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 6982
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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In general terms, this thesis contributes to the on-going debate about the relationship between the religious and the secular in contemporary performance. Specifically it uses the notion of the numinous and its theoretical developments in culture to interpret western, contemporary performance art events characterized by the employment of introspective, meditative, ecstatic, contemplative practices as performance actions. Building on Rudolf Otto's notion of the 'numinous experience' and Michel Foucault's concept of 'technologies of the self', I focus on the performance apparatuses and technologies employed in two case studies: CAT (1988) by Ansuman Biswas and The Artist is Present (2010) by Marina Abramovic. The methodological approach of this thesis is rooted in post-modern developments of hermeneutics that, viewing interpretation as the on-going project of knowledge, proceeds through interpretative hypothesis. In terms of methods of analysis I focus on the three elements of space, presence and action investigated through the following material: visual, video and written documentation; auto-ethnographic methods of engagement with the technologies of the self employed by the two artists; existing critical material; and a multidisciplinary set of theoretical perspectives from performance, theatre, religious, philosophical and scientific studies. The hypothesis proposed is that, departing from the assumption that concepts such as the numinous, the 'unknown', the ineffable, the metaphysical and the supernatural depend on ontological relativism; their boundaries are potentially movable and performative. The objective is, therefore, to look at certain performance practices as laboratories of experimentation and interpretations of these boundaries and investigate how, in each specific case the 'other' is categorized, constructed and experienced. The notion of the numinous is interpreted by looking at the specificity of the events explored, their performative and theatrical dynamics in relation to a variety of cultural and historical contexts. Ultimately the numinous emerges in embodied perception and is contextualized within the paradoxical.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available