Rafting-with... Choreography of Participatory Ecologies: an Ethico-poetics of Everyday Life

Houghton, Christina
O'Connor, Maria
Randerson, Janine
Item type
Degree name
Doctor of Philosophy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

The aim of this practice-led research is to explore how a Choreography of Participatory Ecologies (COPE) reveals an ethics distilled from a poetics of everyday life. This choreographic practice describes a relational ethico-poetics composed through an assemblage of tactics that work towards a deconstruction of grand Anthropocene survival narratives: from those that promote heroism and rescuism productive of instrumental attitudes toward life as resource. This ethico-poetic ecology of choreographic practice assembles around conceptual guides in relation to these key terms: ethics; poetics; everyday; survival and choreographic object. The work locates poetic forces within Martin Heidegger’s destruktion forwarding concepts of poetic-dwelling, truth-as-unconcealing and being-with, and Jacques Derrida’s living-on, as a poetics of non-mastery in the face of dominant strictures of life within our epoch of technicity. In an existential, ontological and deconstructive way, the research locates these concepts in relation to its Choreography of Participatory Ecologies (COPE). The ethico-poetics manifests minimal and minor narratives of belonging with all species, releasing (attitudes of) hierarchical control and guides the research deeper toward its ethical focus in relation to narratives of the Anthropocene. Joanna Zylinska’s minimal ethics and Erin Manning’s minor gesture, move toward fracturing grand narratives through thought-in-action as choreographic methods attuned to speculative pragmatics. The final conceptual coupling within this research exists across William Forsythe’s choreographic object and André Lepecki’s afterlives toward an un-mastered release for choreographic thinking-in-action, which lingers, hangs on, or survives after the choreographic event. Here an everyday poetics envelops in the way relationally distributed bodies of choreographic objects survive.

The practice itself is structured by a closer understanding of performative modes of participating as a release from narratives of survivalist mastery. It works across three relational plateaus, Land, Sea and Aftermath—described as agencement—through the practice of Rafting-with for attuning to its PhD survival structure or ‘narrative’: The first series of events and processes circulate around land-based participatory ecologies, eliciting a significant understanding of choreographic controls—structured by drills, tours and instructive modalities; the next plateau moves into more fluid and familiar environs provided by (my own regional) oceanic experiences including sailing voyages that move (with the) participation of others further into enigmatic off-shore encounters—structured by wayfaring, storytelling, DIY tactics that are ritualised through rafting, resting and recovery; the third and final plateau is the site of aftermath as a fragmentary archive of trace-structures that has survived on from land and sea. The aftermath envelops these distributed environmental relations as fractured tellings, re-written in material ‘code’ from choreographic objects of technological ‘reliance’ or belonging. The choreographic object survives as an unofficial archive that we come to survey and know as the culminating PhD (thesis) performance housed within its Black Box site.

Performing ecologies , Performance art , Choreography , Anthropocene , Participatory art
Publisher's version
Rights statement