Immediacy and mediacy of bodily experience in performance art : on the interpretation of Marina Abramovic
This paper suggests a new way to theorize the relationship between immediacy and mediacy in performance art. in order to it, this paper points out the dilemma in a type of performance theory represented by Erika Fischer-Lichte, connects Derrida's concept of “writing scene” to Lacan and Merleau-Ponty, and then re-interprets Marina Abramovic's performances as the works that create “mise en scene” of fantastic bodies.
In her book Aesthetics of Performartivity, Fischer-Lichte exemplifies Abramivic's works as a typical instance of ‘performative turn’ which emerged in the 60th and turned out to be the paradigm of culture in the 90th. Fischer-Lichte suggests that Abramovic's works invite participants into self-transformation through auto-developing feedback loop and a ‘crisis’ with “co-presence” of performer and audience. She considers contemporary performance itself to be a genre to fulfil “promise of happiness” by breaking the dichotomy of body and sprit, subject and object, life and art.
Fischer-Lichte does not argue mere priority of sensuous experience, but tries to present new semiotics by distinguishing the primary meaning, identified as sense and feeling on site, from the secondary and associative one. However, this distinction leads to a inner dilemma. This paper discusses it further with Derrida's deconstruction on Artaud's theory. Derrida suggests that Artaud's “theater of cruelty”, which aims to liberate the scene from the tyranny of literature, turns out to be an opposite side by its emphasis on language's plastic character. Fundamentally, it cannot be realized ever because it can only exist with a repeated murder of creator-God. Derrida suggests that pure presence is caused by espacement and differentiation, and immediacy is already mediacy.
This paper tries to present a new way to interpret Abramovic's performance on the basis of this premises, which connects Lacan's concept of fantasy and Merleau-Ponty's ontology; The extreme bodily experiences such as pain, endurance, nervousness, and danger Abramovic executes in her performances is for a fulfillment of fantasy of mutual exchange of subject and others. The scene of fantasy, which is a time/place for mediation, is a prerequisite of actual performance of bodily and sensuous experience. In Abramovic's performances, body is not one's own, but anonymous one. Bodily experience transforms into the one that The World emerges as a body in Merleau-Ponty's meaning.