(Non)-Discursive Space of the Body: In-between Discipline and Play

Aline Veiga Loureiro, Kathleen Coessens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


The present paper explores the creative space in-between pre- existing vocabularies and the unknown proceedings of improvisation. We propose to inhabit this space through the "performative" body and its various modes of communicating within and beyond discourses.
Michel Serres and Michel Foucault consider the body and its discourses from two polarities: at one side, Foucault, M. (1975) proposes a bodily object tamed by social impositions and constrains; on the other side, Serres, M. (2002) suggests a bodily subject open to infinite possibilities and freedom. In order to approach creativity, we will argue that the body presents itself both as subject and object, partaking in a dynamic exchange of roles. The body continuously negotiates between language -- discourse -- and novelty -- or spontaneous improvisation -- by occupying a space within these two extremes - the outside and inside discourses of the body.
We will argue that pure improvisation does not take place, as experiences -- both spontaneous and culturally driven -- always imprint patterns into our actions and thoughts; nevertheless vocabulary itself is continuously contaminated by interpretations and personality. Therefore, it is precisely in this shared and interactive space in-between discipline and play that the contemporary body presents itself - displaying and (dis)-embodying (non)-discourses of today. It is challenged by the immersion in a range of pre-achieved discourses, while also having the desire to break out of these conditions over and over towards originality.
Finally, we will place ourselves within this space by revisiting examples of contemporary performance and choreography, including "Self Unfinished" by Xavier le Roy (1998), "Go" by Lisa Nelson et al. (2000) and "Disfigured Study" by Meg Stuart (1991); while also relating to outcomes and questions from within our own collaborative artistic practices associated to improvisation and scores for the "performative" body.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVisual and Performing Arts Abstracts Fourth Annual International Conference on Visual and Performing Arts
EditorsGregory T. Papanikos
Place of PublicationAthens
ISBN (Print)978-960-9549-56-1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Gregory T. Papanikos


  • improvisation
  • art
  • dance
  • Foucault
  • Serres


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