Gathering Through the Image: A Performative Kind of Kinship

Astrid N. Korporaal


In this paper, I explore how performative strategies of gathering can trouble the imaginative frames through which we habitually separate histories, communities and environments from ourselves. In particular, I look at performative gatherings that acknowledge the policing, segregating and extractive uses of image-making technologies in contemporary societies. I discuss how contemporary artists Tejal Shah and Autumn Knight combine performance and moving image practices to create space for shared forms of presence across hierarchies of gender, class or race. 


Questioning forms of kindness defined by recognition or inclusion, I argue that specific gatherings of bodies and images allow the audience to reorient themselves to others. Drawing on Haraway’s proposal for a kindness that involves “making kin’”(2008, 19) by stretching the imagination beyond familial, cultural and species borders, I argue that these performances work to heal the wounds of violent and isolating (self-)images. By embracing in weaponized spaces and dancing on landfills, informal collectives might redistribute the weight of inequality. By welcoming the strangers, outcasts and refuse that inhabit the margins of our sense of self, they can extend into kinder communities.


Performativity, moving image, kinship, kindness, gathering

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