For the upcoming meeting we are reading two texts. Both texts, each in their own way, have to do with the deliberate creation and manipulation of affect, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and with the complicated mesh of who is affecting and who is affected, or who has the power to act and who is acted upon.
One is by Hito Steyerl, an artist we are working with the in framework of Edition IV – Affect. Her text is titled Epistolary Affect and Romance Scams: Letter from an Unknown Woman* and was published last Fall in October Magazine. In this essay, she writes about romance scams on the internet, of unsuspecting men and women looking for love, who are tricked into paying a large price to their supposed lovers. Steyerl writes about how the scams continue a tradition of epistolary affect, but are impacted by the affects of the digital world, as well as by a reality that reflects the delusions of the capitalist system and its economy of feelings. The performative aspects of the scams are placed into the context of melodrama and fiction, and Steyerl also underlines the performance of labour that characterizes the actual work of undertaking these scams. The research for this text also formed the basis for a performance by Steyerl that we carried out in Gdansk last summer as part of If I Can’t Dance’s presentation of artists in Edition IV.
The second text is an interview with Claire Bishop by Julia Austin titled Trauma, Antagonism and the Bodies of Others: a dialogue on delegated performance from Performance Paradigm (2009). The interview expands on Bishop’s notion of ‘delegated performance’: a collaborative mode of artistic practice that relies on other people as a medium and material, most often used to produce a response of discomfort and distress from viewers. With examples from the work of a.o. Artur Zmijewski and Vanessa Beecroft, Bishop and Austin discuss the complexity of affects that these works invoke.