what_now 2014 festival

Public events 11-13 April 2014
Residency 10 – 13 April 2014

what_now 2014 re-imagined the idea of a festival by hosting a group of 20 dance artists to explore processes of moving through collective practice and theory. What moves us, and how do we articulate and think through movement?

The audience was invited to listen in, converse, watch, read, and share – to look for things that happen, and be a part of what is happening.

Festival schedule

You can download the festival schedule here.

Festival speakers

Four guest speakers gave public talks on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each speaker came to this discourse about the thinking body through a different approach, including philosophy, human geography, education and performance. Each talk was followed by responses: further dialogue, debate, physical activity.
Click on each name for more information, and visit the Film and Video page to watch each talk.

Derek McCormack: Thinking and moving with atmospheric things   | Friday 11th April | 7pm

To move and think with things is to become responsive both to the qualities of those things and to their capacities to move and be moved in different ways. It is also to become responsive to the processes and relations from and within which these things emerge.
I use the shape of a simple device – the balloon – as a kind of enabling constraint for thinking in movement. The presentation revolves around a series of stories of the circumstantial excursions of the balloon as it becomes and does atmospheric things in a range of contexts. Through these stories I explore what it might mean to incorporate elemental, atmospheric forces, into the speeds and directions of our thinking and moving as part of the cultivation of worldly sensibilities that are only ever partially dirigible.

Dr. Derek McCormack is associate professor of human geography at the School of Geography and Environment at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Refrains for Moving Bodies: Experience and Experiment in Affective Spaces (Duke University Press, 2013) and is currently working on a book about atmospheric things.


Caroline Bergvall: Writing Gestures   | Saturday 12th April | 2pm

At its root, the gesture of writing is a gesture of tracing. The writer starts to exist in this moment of tracing. As such the trace of writing is a performative act which can be connected to the temporality of a physical body. It can be seen as a gestural choreography. But where the gestures disappear into their moment of performance, writing itself really only starts to exist once the act of tracing has been concluded, and the writer has disappeared. It is in this paradox, in this balancing between absence and presence, life and death, writing and written that I have located a lot of my practice as a writer and performer. In this performative talk, I will wish to actualise and expand on some of the material and philosophical questions that tie gestures of inscription to the development of a text. And in what ways performing a text can in turn inscribe the material shadows of physicality back into writing.

Caroline Bergvall is a writer and artist of French-Norwegian origins, based in London. She works across languages, artforms and media. She is a strong exponent of writing methods adapted to contemporary audiovisual and contextual concerns and multilingual identities. Her language-based pieces and micro structures frequently revisit literary models as well as tackle historical and political events. Projects alternate between performances, sited installations, textual and graphic work, and audio pieces. Current performance: Drift (for live voice, percussion and electronic text).


Joris Vlieghe: BEING-ENTIRELY-FLESH   | Saturday 12th April | 7:30pm

My work as a philosopher and as an educationalist concerns the revalorisation of human corporeality. In many spheres of life, and especially within the world of education, it might be claimed that the body is more often than not considered as a dimension of no importance or merely as a circumstantial factor also to take into account, but with no real meaning in and of itself.
Over and against these tendencies I argue that certain bodily experiences are of the greatest importance. More precisely, I show that moments during which we coincide with the physical side of our existence grant the opportunity to invalidate every societal structuring of individual and communal life, and to install what I have called a moment of ‘democracy of the flesh’.
My work is also a criticism of a lot of recent scholarship that does take the body seriously (inside and outside education), but that immediately subordinates the body again to a regime of meaning and intentionality (a criticisable way of thinking which goes back to the work of Merleau-Ponty). I am, on the contrary, interested in the body taken in its full physicality – in a very literal sense: being-entirely-flesh.
I have developed this approach in relation to events and practices that take place inside schools, such as the occurrence of (fits of) laughter in classrooms, calisthenics (as the most fundamental form of ‘physical’ education) and traditional forms of practising together and in a repetitive manner. I believe that this way of looking at the body can inspire everyone involved, practically and/or theoretically, with the body – and especially the body during collective movement practices.

Joris Vlieghe holds a BA in Art History, MA in Philosophy and PHD in Educational Sciences. He is currently a lecturer in philosophy of education at Edinburgh University.

Joris’ research concerns the role of human corporeality for education, and over the past five years he has been investigating bodily dimensions of concrete teaching and learning practices. He has explored, among other things, traditional ‘school’ practices (repetitive and collective forms of exercise), old and new forms of Physical Education, the bodily experience one has when visiting educational museums and the educational value of the visualisation of the nude body.  Most lately, his focus has been on teaching and learning in today’s digitised world and investigating the meaning of traditional pedagogical notions such as attention, presence and community under digitised conditions.


Laura Cull: A(n Interrupted) Lecture on Attention in 9 Parts   | Sunday 13th April | 3pm

Well, what nature does from time to time, by distraction, for certain privileged individuals, could not philosophy on such a matter attempt, in another sense and another way, for everyone? Would not the role of philosophy under such circumstances be to lead us to a completer [sic] perception of reality by means of a certain displacement of our attention? It would be a question of turning this attention aside from the part of the universe which interests us from a practical viewpoint and turning it back toward what serves no practical purpose. This conversion of the attention would be philosophy itself.” (Henri Bergson).

The average person checks their phone nine times an hour.” (International Digital Times, October 2013)

With Bifo’s notion of attention as under siege in the back of my mind, in this talk I will share work-in-progress thinking on the concept of attention as it figures in the work of Henri Bergson and his sister Moina Mathers, Jonathan Crary, Allan Kaprow and others.

What is attention? Can performance and philosophy (or indeed, performance philosophy) produce ‘counter-forms of attention’ (Crary) or operate as an ‘education of attention’ (Bergson) in the context of the contemporary attention economy? And if so, what forms might these counter practices take? While Bifo writes of resistance in terms of ‘the self-organisation of cognitive work’ and ‘the global mind’, we will be working towards a notion of ‘thought’ as neither exclusively the province of the mind nor of philosophy (as a metaphysical kind of vision or knowledge), but an embodied perceptual practice available to all.

Laura Cull is senior lecturer in theatre studies and director of postgraduate research for the School of Arts at the University of Surrey, UK. She is the author of the book Theatres of Immanence: Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance (Palgrave, 2012), editor of Deleuze and Performance (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) and co-editor with Will Daddario of Manifesto Now! Instructions for Performance, Philosophy, Politics (Intellect, 2013). Laura is a founding core convener of the professional association Performance Philosophy and a co-editor of the Performance Philosophy book series for Palgrave Macmillan.


Residency group

Over four days and three nights, the 20 residency artists lived and slept in Siobhan Davies Studios in London, following strands of thought, feeding the guest speakers’ contributions into their processes, working on and with actions without necessarily producing choreographic objects.
Click below to see the full list of residency artists. 

Residency artists

Ailsa Richardson
Amaara Raheem
Amy Bell
Amy Voris
Andrea Buckley
Benjamin Pohlig
Emilyn Claid
Hetty Blades
Jane Mason
Laura Burns
Maria Sideri
Nicholas Quinn
Nicola Conibere
Robbie Synge
Robert Vesty
Siriol Joyner
Stefan Jovanovic
Stella Dimitrakopoulou
Susanna Recchia
Residency ‘space holder’ artists:
Frank Bock
Katye Coe
Hamish MacPherson
Efrosini Protopapa


“We can reach every point in the world but, more importantly, we can be reached from any point in the world. Privacy and its possibilities are abolished. Attention is under siege everywhere. Not silence but uninterrupted noise, not the red desert, but a cognitive space overcharged with nervous incentives to act: this is the alienation of our times […] workers commonly and voluntarily work overtime, the population is tethered to cell phones and Blackberries, debt has become a postmodern form of slavery, and antidepressants are commonly used to meet the unending pressure of production. As a result, the conditions for community have run aground and new philosophical categories are needed.”

Franco “Bifo” Berardi, 2009


what_now was presented by Independent Dance in association with Siobhan Davies Dance.

Information about previous What festivals:
What if 2010 / Press Release
What Now 2011 / Press Release
What Matters 2012 / Press Release
what_now 2013 / Festival Brochure