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Nostalgia for the Present: Historical Time in Contemporary Performance

By F.A.A. Houwink ten Cate


This thesis deals with the question of whether and how "Finally Together On Time" (2011) by Ivana Muller and Bojana Kunst, "The Artist Is Present" (2010) by Marina Abramovic, "The Show Must Go On" (2001) by Jerome Bel and "The Happiest Man" (2000) by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov relate to the “nostalgia for the present” of the Western late capitalist society of the spectacle (Svetlana Boym and Fredric Jameson), which is caused by the lack of a historical dimension in the contemporary postmodern experience of time. \ud \ud The notion of “nostalgia for the present” is explored in the broader framework of the performance theories concerning presence and liveness of Amelia Jones, André Lepecki, Peggy Phelan, Philip Auslander and Steve Dixon, as well as the theories of the philosophers Henri Bergson and Sylviane Agacinski that focus on the experience of duration and the passage of time. \ud \ud The works are investigated through the analyses of the ways in which the artists “stage the present” by manipulating the presence and liveness of both themselves and their audiences. They are further explored by examining how these “stagings of the present” consequently shape one’s perception of duration and the passage of time. \ud \ud Ultimately, this thesis answers the question whether the four performances are compatible with the notions of reflective or restorative nostalgia (Svetlana Boym) and whether they are able to produce the problem of “nostalgia for the present” for the audience’s perception of it. In the conclusion it is argued that only the works by the Kabakov’s and Bel are able to do so, because they stress the importance of experiencing historical time by bringing into play its ethics of remembering and forgetting

Topics: nostalgia; present;historical time; performance; Ivana Muller; Bojana Kunst; Marina Abramovic; Jerome Bel; Ilya Kabakov; Emilia Kabakov; society of the spectactle; nostalgia for the present
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/288158
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