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Abject VisionsPowers of Horror in Art and Visual Culture$
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Rina Arya and Nicholas Chare

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096280

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096280.001.0001

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Base materials: performing the abject object

Base materials: performing the abject object

(p.189) 11 Base materials: performing the abject object
Abject Visions

Daniel Watt

Manchester University Press

Daniel Watt’s ‘Base Materials: Performing the Abject Object’ configures abjection within the performing arts, and in particular within theatre, thereby underscoring the significance of catharsis in abjection as grounded by Antonin Artaud’s work. Watt examines the radical theatre practices of Tadeusz Kantor, who co-founded the Cricot2 theatre in 1955, and Jerzy Grotowski’s theatre company, which began in 1959. What these share is a view of the practice of immersion in abjection. The actor in Kantor’s theatre, the bio-object (which is neither human nor object) is transformed throughout the performances from person to thing. In Grotowskian performance the body is sacrificed in total theatre. Both cases articulate how the sacrificial abjection of the performing object reveals a vision of reality, in a Bataillean sense, that conveys the potentiality of theatre as one that unveils the human, through a different type of communal event that entails the dissolution of selfhood (jouissance) and the power of horror. The task of performance becomes one of immersion in abjection.

Keywords:   Abjection and theatre, Tadeusz Kantor, the Cricot2 theatre, Jerzy Grotowski, The bio-object

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