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Circus as Practices of Hope : A Philosophy of Circus

  • Robitaille, Marie-Andrée
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2024
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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My doctoral artistic research project, Circus as Practices of Hope, responds to the growing complexities emerging from the convergence of the fourth industrial revolution, the sixth mass extinction, and the eco-socio-political turmoil of our time. What does it mean to be human today? What does it mean to be a circus artist today? How is circus relevant in today’s context?   Core to this inquiry is the assertion that although circus arts hold the potential to foster significant knowledge, they simultaneously perpetuate outdated worldviews that restrict their transgressive potential. With this research, I investigate alternatives to regressive models of thoughts and modes of composition, aiming to identify and articulate circus’ inherent epistemic, ontological, and ethical specificities and their relevance for navigating and steering the current planetary paradigm shift. I conducted my research through embodied practices as a circus artist, as a pedagogue, and from the perspective of a human on Earth. My inquiry occurred through Multiverse, an iterative series of compositional performative experiments and discursive activities. I engaged critical posthumanism and neo-materialist philosophies to challenge and evolve my relation to risk, mastery, and virtuosity.   The project conceptualizes circus arts as nomadic and fabulatory practices, culminating in a series of artistic, choreographic, and conceptual tools and methods that articulate circus arts within and beyond their disciplinary boundaries. The project advances a philosophy of circus that highlights circus-specific kinetic, aesthetic, and embodied relevancies in today’s context, situating circus arts as hopeful practices for the future.  / Mitt konstnärliga doktorandprojekt, Circus as Practices of Hope, är ett svar på den växande komplexitet som uppstår när den fjärde industriella revolutionen, den sjätte massutrotningen och vår tids ekologiska, sociala och politiska turbulens sammanstrålar. Vad innebär det att vara människa idag? Vad innebär det att vara cirkusartist idag? På vilket sätt är cirkus relevant i dagens sammanhang?  Kärnan i denna undersökning är påståendet att även om cirkuskonst har potential att främja betydande kunskap, vidmakthåller den samtidigt föråldrade världsbilder som begränsar dess gränsöverskridande potential. Med denna forskning undersöker jag alternativ till regressiva tankemodeller och kompositionssätt, i syfte att identifiera och formulera cirkusens inneboende epistemiska, ontologiska och etiska särdrag och deras relevans för att navigera och styra det pågående planetära paradigmskiftet. Jag genomförde min forskning genom förkroppsligade praktiker som cirkusartist, pedagog och utifrån perspektivet av att vara en människa på jorden. Min undersökning skedde genom Multiverse, en iterativ serie av kompositionella performativa experiment och diskursiva aktiviteter. Jag använde mig av kritisk posthumanism och neo-materialistiska filosofier för att utmana och utveckla min relation till risk, behärskning och virtuositet.  Projektet konceptualiserar cirkuskonst som nomadiska och fabulerande praktiker, och kulminerar i en serie konstnärliga, koreografiska och konceptuella verktyg och metoder som formulerar cirkuskonst inom och bortom dess disciplinära gränser. Projektet främjar en cirkusfilosofi som lyfter fram cirkusspecifik kinetisk, estetisk och förkroppsligad kunskap, och som lyfter fram cirkus som en hoppfull praxis inför framtiden. / <p><strong>Introduction to Documentation</strong></p><p>This text introduces the parts of the documented artistic research project (doctoral thesis). As such, it is a navigation tool for moving across the project’s parts and a guideline for "reading" the entire project’s documentation. </p><p>The documented artistic research project (doctoral thesis) consists of </p><p>- The live performance <em>Multiverse </em></p><p>- A digital spherical exposition</p><p>- A written exegesis</p><p>- Artifacts </p><p>By combining several modes of documentation, I wish to affirm the various modes of research, honor their discursive and aesthetic specificities, and recognize their linguistic incompossibility.</p><p><strong>Live Performance</strong>The live performance Multiverse has been continuously developed throughout the research project through a series of iterations. It has been presented internationally in different contexts and will be presented at the making public of the thesis on April 29th, 2024, at Stockholm University of the Arts. Multiverse offers direct access to the research as performance and aesthetics praxis. The performance contains elements considered “unarchivable,” necessitating it be experienced live. </p><p><strong>Digital Exhibition</strong>The digital exhibition, located on the Research Catalogue, an international database for artistic research, provides a spherical exposition of the research processes through a repository of images, texts, and diagrams. The exposition intends to honor the aesthetics of the research by employing the concepts and principles that emerged from and steered the process. With a diffractive structural mode of composition, the exposition offers transversal and anarchic ways of moving within the project's various mediality. By adopting a cosmological approach to documentation, I wished to explore the potential of non-linear accesses, multiple partial views, and the built-in ambivalence that comes with these. The digital exhibition has been fed and transformed throughout the research project through evolving and unstable indexicalities, manifesting the fugitive and kinetic aspects of knowledge formation. </p><p><strong>Exegesis </strong>The exegesis is a critical textual articulation of the research project. The text exposes and discusses the research's questions, methods, and findings. The text accounts for why and how I conducted the artistic research project. It elaborates on and discusses the concepts and processes that were activated through and emerged from the project. </p><p><strong>Artifacts</strong>The artifacts—one volvelle, one bubble, and one piece of foil—are physically archived at Stockholm University of the Arts. The purpose of the physical archive is to give material access to a few of the bodies/objects/materials that have been significant in conducting the research project.  </p><p><strong>Notes on Documentation </strong>Alternative modes of knowledge production (such as knowing through circus) require alternative ways of articulation. The field of artistic research enables researchers to develop alternatives to traditional academic documentation. In this thesis, I aim to provide a situated account of my project without conforming to academic conventions but without rejecting them entirely. The parts above constitute my doctoral thesis. Each part is distinct yet complementary. While this documented artistic project is best understood in its entirety, my hope is that each part is independently valuable and accessible.  </p>

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