Participation, Ecology, Cosmos
In this essay, Carl Lavery turns his attention away from conventional socio-political definitions of participation and focuses on ecology. By doing so, he argues that participation is not a voluntary activity, something that we either assent to or dissent from; on the contrary, it is something that we cannot avoid, implicated as we already are in the dense materiality of the world. In order to theorise what an ecological understanding of participation might look like in contemporary performance practice, Lavery turns, first, to eco-critic Timothy Morton’s notion of the ‘hyperobject’, a massively distributed entity, such as global warming or breathing, that implicates the whole world in its grip. In the second part of the essay, Lavery analyses how the choreographer and conceptual artist Simon Whitehead discloses the presence of the hyberobject in his trilogy of river performances, the Dulais Suite. As Lavery explains, the simplicity of Whitehead’s work produces a dizzying sense of participation in which the spectator is encouraged to respond creatively to the cosmic play of the hyperobject.