The Inscription of Art and Everyday Life: How Being Slips into Performance was published in activate Journal Issue 1, Vol. 1 (2011). activate is a peer-reviewed e-journal in the field of performance and creative research, based in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance at University of Roehampton, London.

An abstract is opposite; download full text here.

See also Anyone Could Do That: the Performance of Art in the Work of Tracey Emin (2012), an unpublished essay developing ideas from this article.

This article analyses practices of cultural production that bear upon the relation between the actual (the indicative: x is) and the inscription or performance of the actual (the subjunctive: as if x were). In my analysis the act of linguistic inscription emerges as an analogy for these practices: name-giving ostensibly restores the indicative world to human experience while in fact contributing to the retreat of the indicative and to the restoration of the subjunctive in its place. I argue that certain cultural practices exhibit the same structure of inscription, retreat and restoration, and as such can be interpreted as instances of (non-textual) inscription: of writing the indicative world into a subjunctive performance of itself. I argue that this slip from indicative to subjunctive is acknowledged and problematized in some cultural practices (e.g. instances of readymade, conceptual and lifelike art; instances of theatrical performance), but is concealed in others (e.g. the TV news broadcast, the holiday snapshot, the online persona). As a consequence of this concealment in contemporary popular culture I identify an expansion of the subjunctive field to the point of its apparent ubiquity: the writing of performance becomes so compelling that the writing itself no longer shows.

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