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June 19, 2007

Performance Paradigm 3 (May 2007)


The End of Ethics? Performance, Politics and War

"The announcement of the ‘End of History’ has not produced nor been coincident with an end to the ideological differences encoded within that concept. Instead it has seen an intensification of conflicts which, however local in origin, are global in scope: civilization wars, culture wars, wars on terror and drugs, perhaps a re-emergent cold war? In terms of the local investment in these conflicts, the government led by John Howard in Australia has been an enthusiastic protagonist in these wars and in the absurd parody of ‘situation ethics’ that they have produced. This is the least ethical government in living memory in Australia but it has still been tremendously popular. Perhaps it’s the sheer frankness of this unethical behaviour at the highest level of political life in Australia in the last decade that provokes the question in the title of our issue of Performance Paradigm. But it is not our intention here to rehearse the litany of subtle abuses of ethics in this part of the world or in this period of political history. Nor are we announcing the ‘End of Ethics’ as the ethical correlative to arguments about the ‘End of History’. The title is a provocation to re-think the discourse of ethics in relation to political performance and art, and to re-assert its significance in a time when neo-con furies are unleashed upon the world and, in the global context, war has displaced alternative methods of conflict management and resolution.

In the Australian context, performance has been a significant site of engagement with these issues, as a number of the essays in this issue attest. Some artists have responded directly to a number of the key policy initiatives of the Howard government, particularly in respect of its infamous mistreatment of asylum seekers. But we also see evidence of an international context for this kind of protest, even if it is not in forms of direct action, in which artists and theorists are promoting alternate forms of ethical engagement.

The essays in this issue of Performance Paradigm provide an account of the diverse range of recent performance works in which the possibility of the ethical response to political events is directly broached or even structurally implicated in the work itself..." From the Introduction by Edward Scheer.

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Theatre of/or Truth by Maaike Bleeker

Performing war: ‘military theatre’ and the possibilities of resistance by Michael Balfour

Rupture in the Surface: Ethics of the Abject by Horit Herman Peled

Is there a gene responsible for our obsession with perfection? Disability, ethics and responsibility by Lalita McHenry

Performance, Politicians, and War: Selling Iraq in the culture war by David A. Williams

Being Near: Visiting the Rwandan genocide memorial site at Murambi, Gikongoro by Jeff Stewart


Art And Politics And The Zürcher Theater Spektakel: Maria Magdalena Schwaegermann talks with Margaret Hamilton

Envisioning Ethics Anew: Rustom Bharucha talks with Performance Paradigm

Pathologies of Hope: Baz Kershaw talks with Performance Paradigm

Book Reviews

Unsettling Space: Contestations in Contemporary Australian Theatre, Joanne Tompkins by Gay McAuley

Making Theatre in Northern Ireland: Through and Beyond the Troubles, Tom Maguire by Rebecca Pelan

Postdramatic Theatre, Hans-Thies Lehmann, trans. Karen Jürs-Munby
Denise Varney

Performance Reviews

I La Galigo. Directed by Robert Wilson. State Theatre, Melbourne International Arts Festival, 19 – 23 October 2006 by Margaret Hamilton

Posted by jo at June 19, 2007 10:53 AM