UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Improvisatory city performance and relational art : Vancouver, Crawling, Weeping, Betting Moore, Lindsay Patricia


This analysis of the performance and installation project Vancouver, Crawling, Weeping, Betting (2014) is a case study of improvisation and creativity in environmentally engaged relational art. I argue for the politically transformative possibility inherent in the unfolding of material-semiotic and affective relations of improvised performance events. VCWB uses stories and bodies to engage historical colonial power and the structures that give form to our experiences of urban cultural geographies. Focusing on the centrality of the body to creativity (and drawing on Manning 2009), I connect participatory performance in the city to the Deleuzian notion of a body-becoming; a sensing, moving, and thinking body that is always in a process of re-identification and re-articulation in reciprocal relation with the environment. Central to VCWB’s form of improvisatory relational art are concepts of generosity and co-responsibility, which are used to create caring reciprocal relations between performer-participants and the environment. I argue VCWB prompts and sustains a relation of antagonism (following Bishop 2004) in its experimental performances. A multiplicity of historical affective associations and encounters with landscape, presented in narrative and other works, challenge participants to confront difference, dislocation, and uncertainty, producing movement and ‘dialogue.’ I use the term spaces of possibility to describe relations in which frictions become creative taking-off points for movement and thought. VCWB street performances highlight the antagonism and possibility that is inevitable to unpredictable encounter in a lively world. VCWB’s particular form of art making is processual, generative, and its affects proliferative. In using the example of VCWB’s non-representational mapmaking I expand the scope of improvised performance in the city to consider how gatherings in moments recompose places in novel material-semiotic and affective relations.

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