Alternative Debate


Read the instruction in the Alternative Debate file, be sure to read Perucci 2017 Ruptural Performance reading.

Follow the instruction and finish the assignment. BE SURE TO MEET ALL THE REQUIREMENT LISTED IN THE FILE.


IN ADDITION provide:

1.what is the action you chose. Does it fit in “physical act”, “verbal performance” or “non-verbal manifestation”?

2.Provide a script to describe this action and discuss with class(script should be at least 1 minute)

3.Provide the definition for the 6 terms on requirement #4 (Definition has to be from the reading “Perucci Ruptural Performance”, DO NOT LOOK UP THE DEFINITION ONLINE.



The Poetics of Ruptural Performance

T o n y Pe ru c c i

Every day, do something that won’t compute. — Wendell Berry

Understanding alone can do little to transform conscious- ness and situations. The exploited have rarely had the need to have the laws of exploitation explained to them. — Jacques Rancière

We are sorry for this inconvenience, but this is a revolution. — Subcommandante Marcos

The set- up of Renee Gladman’s (2003) novella, The Activist, is this: News reports claim that a major urban bridge has been destroyed by an activist group called the CPL. Some contend that the bridge fell on its own. A group of angry commuters claims that the bridge is, in fact, still standing— and demands the right to drive across it. Finally, a group of Canadian scientists called in by the president determines that there never was a bridge: “not clear it was a crossing point,” their report states (28). The head paramilitary officer assigned to track down the CPL bemoans, “Instead of a hunger strike, they’re issuing a logic one,” but goes on to say that he doesn’t know what that means (49). Members of the group are rounded up, but are then broken out of jail by their com- rades. Their escape from jail coincides with a sudden increase of graffiti around the city, most often expressing only the word, “No” (117).

I open with this story from Gladman’s book because it illustrates the kind of performance activism I try to get at in this essay, and which I am calling “ruptural”— a kind of activist performance that resists legibility. It is the performance of the logic strike. While this essay did originally

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begin as a manifesto, and perhaps it still is one, I don’t mean to argue against other, more clearly communicative activist performances, but rather to complement, complicate, and confound them.

In this essay, I argue for and trace out the critical characteristics of legibility- resisting forms of performance activism that are distinct less because of a communicated message of their content and more by their qualities as performance. This emergent mode pays a particular debt to the pranksterism of Abbie Hoffman, the détournement of the Situation- ists, and the absurd enactments of Dada performance. These interven- tions are best known today through the practices of culture jammers, including the staged performances of Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, The Billionaires for Bush, and the Yes Men. While rup- tural performance can be seen as a strain of culture jamming, it is one that diverges from the dominant model epitomized by the work of Kalle Lasn and Adbusters. Those practices emphasize activism that moves at the level of signification through “subvertisements” and “billboard liberation” that “rebrand” and “uncool” corporations by contesting the corporate/branded image with the ecological, economic, and social con- sequences of the products that underlie their profit line. Such a mode of culture jamming speaks in the grammar of advertising as it seeks to disrupt it. In so doing, such culture jamming is characterized by a clar- ity of message even as it subverts the advertisements it “jams.” Ruptural performance, however, jams up the meaning- making process itself. It willfully confuses the issue, and utilizes the very bafflement that ensues as a strategic advantage in challenging power.

At the risk of constructing a false binary, I propose that the obverse of ruptural performance is Guy Debord’s ([1967] 1995) “spectacle.” Debord explains that while the society of the spectacle is indeed an “accumula- tion of spectacles,” he distinguishes that “the spectacle is not a collection of images; rather it is a social relationship between people that is medi- ated by images” (12). While he calls it a Weltanschauung (worldview), it is more than an ideology or a veil of false consciousness. Rather it is “the very heart of society’s real unreality” (13), and in that materi- ality extends the alienation of the production of the commodity to its consumption: The spectacle produces “isolation” through the shift from “doing” to “contemplation,” where “the spectator’s alienation from and submission to the contemplated object . . . works like this: the more he

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contemplates, the less he lives” (23). Ultimately, the spectacle as “social relationship” represents the triumph of the commodity- image, the “rul- ing order’s . . . uninterrupted monologue of self- praise” (19), whereby “the commodity completes its colonization of social life” (29). In un- derstanding the spectacle as not merely spectacles, but a modality of experience in which separation and contemplation flatten the encounter with presence, Debord proposes “situations” specifically to intervene at the level of experience.

However, in his attempt to characterize contemporary activism, Dream: Reimagining Progressive Politics in the Age of Fantasy, Stephen Duncombe (2007) proposes that spectacle is itself the basis for protest, and that the distinction of the spectacle and the situation is merely “se- mantic” (130). Instead, he proposes “the ethical spectacle”:

Our spectacles will be participatory, dreams the public can mold and shape themselves. They will be active: spectacles that work only if people help create them. They will be open- ended: setting stages to ask questions and leaving silences to formulate answers. And they will be transparent: dreams that one knows are dreams but which still have the power to at- tract and inspire. And finally, the spectacles we create will not cover over or replace reality and truth but perform and amplify it. (17)

There is much to be gained from Duncombe’s (2007) schematization here. And what I wish to do is revise and amplify it by challenging his dismissal of the distinctive character of “spectacle.” Most significantly, this requires distinguishing that the spectacle is not just a thing to be seen, but is also a mode of performance. Interventionist performance, particularly that which seeks to challenge and disrupt the values, and especially the experience of the society of the spectacle, is a different modality of enactment, rather than a variation of spectacle.

While performance interventions share with spectacle the quali- ties of being dramatic and theatrical, what distinguishes them is that they disrupt the experience of daily life, a rupture of the living of social relations— what activist Reverend Billy calls “the necessary interrup- tion” (Talen 2000, xiii). The interruption, which Walter Benjamin (1968) might call the “sudden start” or the “shock” (163), creates the space for

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and initiates the experience of a ruptural performance. What follows is an attempt to trace out rupture as a modality of performance that means to disrupt, or at least to fuck with, the spectacle.

1. Ruptural performances are interruptive. 2. Ruptural performances are becoming- events. 3. Ruptural performances are confrontational. 4. Ruptural performances are baffling and confounding. 5. Ruptural performances enact becoming- a- problem. 6. Ruptural performance gives rise to the virtuosic multitude.

This listing is meant in no way to be prescriptive, exhaustive or limit- ing. Rather, it is intended to be a provisional, necessarily incomplete cataloguing of the features of some contemporary activist performances. Ruptural performance is perhaps best thought of as an emergent form that functions in support of a diversity of tactics that includes marches, sit- ins and long- term community engagement and mobilization.

Ruptural Performances Are Interruptive

In some way these performances halt, impede, or delay the habitual practices of daily life. They intervene at the level and in the midst of the quotidian. Such performances engage the “necessary interruption” which seeks to make conscious what is habitual so that it is available for critique. In this way it shares Debord’s (2002) notion of the constructed situation: “the concrete construction of temporary settings of life and their transformation into a higher, passionate nature” (44) is inherently interruptive as it “asserts a non- continuous conception of life” (48). They seek to destabilize what the Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky (1965) called the “automatism of perception” (13). For Shklovsky, the role of art is to undo “habitualization,” which he says, “devours works, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war” (12). Such a reclama- tion of perception Shklovsky calls “defamiliarization” (13), for which the Russian phrase is priem ostranenie, and which translates literally as “making strange.” Brecht (1964) realized the political potential for this concept as the Verfremdungseffekt, which is foundational in that

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it focuses on the experience of making the familiar strange as much as the transmission of a political message. In the speed- up of a contempo- rary life characterized by images and simulations, these performances engage what Brecht’s associate Walter Benjamin (1968) calls the “inter- ruption of happenings” that estranges the “conditions of life” (150). It is this interruption, Benjamin suggests, that allows performance to obtain the “special character [of ] . . . producing astonishment rather than empathy” (150). Interruptive performance, however, occurs not at the level of representation, but on the field of presence. It is achieved by “putting a frame” around experience that produces what Richard Bauman (1977) calls a “heightened intensity” or “special enhancement of experience” (43).

The Brazilian group, Opovoempé (“people on their feet”), for in- stance, has performed their Guerrilha Magnética (Magnetic Guerilla) and other intervenções (interventions) throughout public spaces in São Paulo. In 2006, they composed and performed Congelados (Frozen), a series of intervenções, throughout the city’s supermercados.1 The per-

Figure 12.1. Opovoempé performing Congelados (Frozen) (2005), a Guerrilha Magné- tica intervençõ at a supermercado in São Paulo, Brazil.

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formances consisted of simple and improvised ensemble compositions constructed through the use of the theatrical practice known as View- points: gesture, repetition, spatial relationship, and kinesthetic response. 2 The piece, in its basic performance of the actions of shopping, defamil- iarizes those activities. The “choreography” that constitutes the “dance and music of buying” only gradually becomes evident, as the repetition of the banal gestures of shopping begins to mark their strangeness as performance (Esteves 2009). Though the content of the action is not overtly political— it does not scream its ideology— it makes the encoun- ter with shopping, and especially its mindlessness and repetitiveness, seem strange.

At their foundation, Opovoempé’s pieces are rupture- producing machines: “The interventions intend to cause rupture of commu- nication barriers, revelation of humor and play, change in the use of public space, and the manifestation of latent contents or social ten- sions previously unnoticed” (Esteves n.d.). That rupture is specifically political— particularly in mobilizing the poetic state of quotidian set- tings. Guerrilha Magnética performances are intended “to break apathy and indifference, to install a creative atmosphere of play and to reveal the poetic content of the city.” In O que se viu que você vê (What was seen that you see) (2007), the ensemble performed a structured im- provisation with newspapers at the busiest intersection in São Paulo at Avenue Paulista (figure 12.2). The inspiration for the performance was local newspapers’ silence on a spate of police brutality cases in the area. However, at least as important as the protest against police violence and the news media’s complicity was the production of an extended dance that was intended to compel the audience that drove and walked by the performance to “see” their city again. As the ensemble moved along a preplanned path from a police substation to a tram stop to a homeless encampment and to a freeway overpass, the group constructed striking and dynamic images and actions intended to interrupt passersby so that they would re- see their surroundings in order to reconnect and reinvest in them.

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Figure 12.2. The author in performance with Opovoempé in the Guerrilha Magnética, “O que se viu que você vê” (What was seen that you see) (2007) on a freeway overpass and on Avenue Paulista. Photos by Christian Castanho.

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Ruptural Performances Are Becoming- Events

Thus, they do, as Dell Hymes (1975) suggests, “break through into per- formance” (11). And while their boundaries are unstable and unfixed, it is the ruptural performances’ “eventness,” their status as singular in time and space, which enables the presencing that the spectacle confounds. Alain Baidou (2007) puts it this way: “This other time, whose materi- ality envelops the consequences of the event, deserves the name of a new present. The event is neither past nor future. It makes us present to the present” (39). The instability of the boundaries of the event is also equally significant. Ruptural performances tend to confound boundaries of the real and artificial. The actual event of performance is generated by means of artifice, yet is one in which audiences often don’t initially realize that they are in a constructed situation.

In ruptural performances, audiences often first suspect that some- thing isn’t right, but are not sure if something is actually amiss. Ulti- mately, though, the “breakthrough” occurs when audiences realize that things aren’t normal, they are strange, and we are in the midst of an event. It is this eventness (and the anticipatory process of becoming- event) that enlivens the occasion of the here and now. And that temporal immediacy is captured well by Benjamin’s (1968) invocation of Jetztzeit or the “presence of the now” (261). One becoming- event that has been performed around the world is the “whirl.”

The whirl consists of a group of fifteen or more people entering a sweatshop store a few at a time (most often a Wal- Mart, thus the sometimes- used moniker: “Whirl- Mart”) who move empty shopping carts throughout the store. Once all performers are inside and with carts, the participants create a single line of carts that snakes throughout the store, splitting and refiguring as the snake of carts meets up with blocked aisles and shopping customers (which must look like a Busby Berkley dance sequence to the overhead security cameras). During the hour or more of the performance, if asked by management, security, employees, or customers what they are doing, performers respond kindly with “I’m not shopping.” As performers make their rounds, it is the employees who first encounter the becoming- event, then the customers, then manage- ment (who begin manically communicating on walkie- talkies), and fi- nally security. When security gets wise, it’s time to return the carts and

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exit the store. As ruptural performance, the whirl does not make any specific claim on protesting the many things one could agitate against— sweatshop labor, poor treatment of store employees, predatory business practices, etc.— given that most people present could recite this litany of wrongs. Rather, the whirl enacts the becoming- event of “not shopping,” which in itself can be read as an engagement against over- consumption, Wal- Mart’s imperialism, unfair labor practices, or ecological devastation.

Ruptural Performances Are Confrontational

By confrontational, I don’t necessarily mean aggressive, though they may be that. Rather, ruptural performance emerges, as Benjamin (1968) says

Figure 12.3. The becoming- event of performing the whirl.

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of epic theater, when a “stranger is confronted with the situation as with a startling picture” (151). Ruptural performance is thus distinguished from the “revelatory” performance that unmasks the hidden truths (though it may also do this). In our age, what Marx called the “secret of the commodity”— that its price masked the alienated labor that produced it— is now exposed. We know, for instance, that many of the products we buy are produced by sweatshop- , child- and slave- labor; but we have devel- oped what Adrian Piper (1996b) calls “ways of averting [our] gaze” (167).

Ruptural performance is thus less a critique of false consciousness, and is more about the experience of the encounter of returning the gaze to that which one avoids in order to maintain acceptance of the inequi- ties of the contemporary social orders. Bruce Wilshire (1982) gets at what I’m talking about when he describes phenomenology as a “systematic effort to unmask the obvious” (11). In fact, this quality is what Michael Fried (1968) complained about as the central quality of Minimal Art: its “stage presence” or “theatricality” where “the work refuses, obstinately, to let him alone— which is to say, it refuses to stop confronting him” (140). And in this way, ruptural performance owes as much to Minimal- ism as it does to Dada. Ruptural performances, like Minimal Art, are characterized by a “concrete thereness,” that Barbara Rose (2000) holds to be a “literal and emphatic assertion of their own existence” (216). In this way, ruptural performances diverge from Adbusters- style culture jamming that focuses on the play of representation, emphasizing in- stead the experiential encounter of material presence. The sensorial act of confrontation that ruptural performances enact is itself a fundamen- tal component of the action.

Such a sensuousness of ruptural performance’s mode of confrontation occurred on February 29, 2008, two days before the Russian election that resulted in the victory for Vladimir Putin’s apprentice Dmitry Medvedev, when the Russian “art- anarch- punk gang” (Dolcy 2010, n.p.) Voina (War) confronted patrons of the Timiryazev Museum of Biology in Moscow with a display of sensual gratification in the form of a “collective fuck action” ( Five Russian couples surreptitiously disrobed and proceeded in an extended session of group sex as a bearded man with a top hat and tuxedo held aloft a sign that read, “Fuck for the heir bear cub.” The phrase is a play on Medvedev’s name, which is derived from the Russian word for bear (medved). Though Thomas (2008) described the “stunt” as

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a “wry commentary on the handover of power— decried by opponents as undemocratic” (n.p.), it is certainly more than a straightforward piece of political agit- prop. If for no other reason, this can be determined by the wildly divergent interpretations of the act as it has been disseminated on the Internet. Some read it as a critique on the undemocratic qualities of the Russian election (Thomas 2008), some as offering support for the incoming president (existentia_dada 2008), some as animal rights protest in defense of bear cubs (Heer 2008), and some even as a “Crazy Russian Teen Orgy” at teen- But even more than any of these interpre- tive acts, the event of performance is constituted by the materiality of the confrontation by live bodies in the midst of public sex.

Similarly, in Voina’s “Humiliation of Cop in his Own House” (2008) action days before Medvedev’s inauguration, the group entered a Rus- sian police station, pasted photos of Medvedev throughout the building, formed a human pyramid to recite a poem by Soviet dissident D. A. Prigov, and attempted to serve the officers tea and cake. In this work it is the confrontational act of performing what they call “innovative art- language” within the state- controlled space of the police station that constitutes “vivid political protest art” (Dolcy 2010, n.p.)

Figure 12.4. Voina’s “collective fuck action,” “Fuck for the Bear Cub” (2008) in the Moscow Biological Museum.

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Figure 12.5. “Humiliation of Cop in His Own House” (2008): Voina reads poetry from a human pyramid of dissident poetry and serves tea and cake to police.

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Ruptural Performances Are Baffling and Confounding

Rather than engaging a pragmatic approach to efficient communication that disables so much political art, ruptural performance is indebted to Mary Overlie’s concept of “doing the unnecessary.” For Overlie (2009), the “unnecessary” action undermines performance’s “efficiencies” (McKenzie 2001) by doing that which is not called for in habitual activ- ity: “In these unnecessary activities the body, senses and objectives leap into alertness because they do not know the routine. The body and the mind are put in a state of high awareness and therefore function with thrilling accuracy stretching performance into extraordinary perfor- mance” (Overlie 2009, n.p., under “The Unnecessary”). Thus ruptural performance is paradoxically Minimalist and Maximalist.

Ruptural performance embraces the notion that the political message is sometimes not immediately clear, and instead embodies what Artaud (1958) calls “the poetic state” (122). Rather than the clarity of agit- prop performance’s political messaging, ruptural performance is character- ized by “true dreams and not . . . a servile copy of reality.” This “attack on the spectator’s sensibility” (86), Artaud says, is a form of “direct action” (87). As such, it aligns with contemporary activism in the resurgence of neo- Situationists and neo- anarchists like CrimethInc (2004), whose Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook instructs its readers on “di- rect action” (which they consider to be the “opposite” of “representation” [13]) that “sidesteps regulations, representatives, and authorities” (12). In their advocacy of replacing “representations of sex” with “real sex,” they assert the theatrical dimensions of direct action: “It’s time to stop being spectators and start being actors” (201).

The materiality of direct action and Artaud’s (1958) emphasis on the “immediacy” (123) of the poetic state occur at the “rupture between things and words” (7) and thus conjoin the phenomenological literal- ism of Minimalism with the willful nonsense of Dada in producing a “concrete expression of the abstract” (64). If Brecht (1964) moves from the spectacle’s “ooh” to Epic Theater’s “Aha!” (Duncombe 2007, 146), then Artaud adds the element of “huh?” Ruptural performance puts the strange back in estrangement. In this way, the rupture is, following Adrian Piper (1996a), “catalytic.” In Piper’s Catalysis series, the work of

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art was but a “catalytic agent between myself and the viewer” that creates an “ambiguous situation”:

For Catalysis IV, in which I dressed very conservatively, but stuffed a large white bath towel into the sides of my mouth until my cheeks bulged to about twice their normal size, letting the rest of it hang down my front and riding the bus, subway, and Empire State Building elevator; Catalysis VI, in which I attached helium- filled Mickey Mouse balloons from each of my ears, under my nose, to my two front teeth, and from thin strands

Figure 12.6. Adrian Piper’s Catalysis IV (1970), riding a crosstown bus with a towel in her mouth. Performance documentation: 5 silver gelatin print photographs, 16” x 16” (40.6 cm x 40.6 cm). Collection of the Generali Foundation, Vienna. Copyright by Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin and Generali Foundation.

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of my hair, then walked through Central Park and the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, and rode the subway during morning rush hour. (43)

Piper (1996a) explains that familiar structures of sense- making “pre- pare the viewer to be catalyzed, thus making actual catalysis impossible” (45). In this way, the work of art/activism can be as Félix Guattari (1995) says an activity of “rupturing sense” (131)— and in its uncategorizability, its uncontainability, and its ungraspability (Mackey 1997, 52), it is no longer easily dismissed as the known object of political performance.

Ruptural Performances Enact Becoming- a- Problem

Ruptural performance seeks to “escape the tyranny of meaning” (185), to use Barthes’s (1977) phrase, and thus resists being easily managed by the spectacle. This unruly, fugitive quality is central to the aesthetics of ruptural performance. And in very particular ways, it points to the fun- damental questions about performance activism in the age of crisis. A great deal of scholarship on performance activism focuses on the cura- tive and healing (psychological and social) properties of performance. Perhaps this is due to the role of the important work of Augusto Boal in both theorizing and developing a practice for performance as a mode of social intervention. But the emphasis on celebratory and playful ele- ments of performance activism may obscure the primary and necessary characteristic of performed activism— that it is inconveniencing, disrup- tive, annoying, and often willfully asshole- ic.

The history of performed activism is replete with actions that are not utopian, charming, or blissful. The precedence for the abrasiveness of contemporary Ruptural performance can be found in the Black Pan- thers’ occupation of the California State house, Abbie Hoffman’s throw- ing of money on Wall Street traders, AIDS die- ins on the streets of New York, the Zapatistas marching by the thousands into Mexico City armed with wooden guns, and the Black Brunch protests by #BlackLivesMatter activists who recited at white brunch establishments the names of Afri- can American victims of police violence. These performances employ a form of activism that is impolite, and which is considered by some to be the “wrong” form of activism (its obnoxiousness does not take the form of a reasoned argument). Ruptural performance is disruptive to the daily

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practices of those who come across the performance, or who are come across by it. Thus, the becoming- event quality of ruptural performance is also a condition of becoming- a- problem— an irritant form of con- frontation at the level comprehension and the quietude of one’s day. As a form, mode, and practice of culture jamming, ruptural performance embraces the static, feedback, and distortion that disrupts the ear when an audio signal is jammed.

This condition of becoming- a- problem reminds us of the real work that constitutes enacting rupture, and the labor of activism that exceeds such practices of “activism lite” such as Facebook petitions. To make of oneself a problem is to exceed the condition of a rhetorical practice of persuasion, but further to operate as an intruder into the consistency and continuity of others’ quotidian practices. This intrusion, as a refusal of stability of meaning, legibility, and closure, irritates through its fugi- tive status— its refusal to be pinned down.

Figure 12.7. Radical negation as virtuosity: Photos of Mickey Smith holding a sign featuring this Occupy slogan spread across the Internet during the early days of Occupy Wall Street. Photo by Scott Lynch.

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And it is this quality that simultaneously makes the Occupy move- ment both innovative and infuriating. From news magazines to aca- demic monographs, Occupy is taken to task for its unwillingness to “occupy” a clear and cogent political platform. Headlines ask, “What does Occupy want?”— accusing the occupiers of political naiveté for not simply promoting a slate of political initiatives. But it is Occupy’s sta- tus as an “open” performance and set of performances that has enabled a flexibility to speak to a diverse assemblage of political practices and social injustices— to engage with inequality at the level of multiplicities and the vast intersecting and reinforcing mechanisms that constitute a performance complex of power.

Ruptural Performance Gives Rise to the Virtuosic Multitude

In the Occupy movement, we can identify a final element of ruptural performance— the virtuosic multitude. Paolo Virno (2003) describes the virtuosic as an activity that (1) finds its fulfillment or purpose in itself and (2) does so in the presence of others (52). It is in the virtuosic— that is, the refusal to reify or objectify oneself into stability— that ruptural perfor- mance reinvigorates the publicity of the public sphere, enacting what Virno calls “radical disobedience . . . which casts doubt on the State’s ability to con- trol” (69). The virtuosic multitude enacts the affective charge of presence that moves at the heart of performance. From the durational performance of encampment to the dynamic embodiment of the human microphone, Occupy is a movement that cannot be separated from the condition of bod- ies moving. What Occupy has to teach us about ruptural performance is that the collectivity of action produces the affective encounter with intensi- ties. For John Protevi, it is the political affect of “active joy” that undergirds the semantic and pragmatic elements of the Occupy movement (Protevi 2011). But Virno’s notion of the virtuosic implies a more particular modal- ity of experience in the “doing as an end unto itself.” Such encounters are what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990) calls “autotelic” and which form the basis for what he names the “optimal experience” or “flow” (67, 3). Flow helps us understand the performative intensity of the virtuosic as the charged affect of the dissolving of self and act.

As flow, ruptural performance constitutes the virtuosic multitude in its enactment. That is to say, in its embodiment, it brings into being the

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conditions of possibility for radical disobedience. Thus constituted, the virtuosic multitude can further realize itself through a full diversity of tactics. Ruptural performance need not stand alone in the arsenal of re- sistance. If, as CrimethInc (2008) puts it in the title of their field manual, we should “Expect Resistance,” then ruptural performance functions to produce resistance that breaks expectations through intensities of radi- cal disobedience and critical intervention.

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N ot e s 1 Opovoempé was founded in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2004 by Ana Luiza Leáo, Chris-

tiane Zuan Esteves, Graziela Mantoanelli, Manuela Afonzo, and Paula Lopez. For more on Opovoempé, see

2 The Viewpoints, first conceived by choreographer and theorist Mary Overlie (and revised by theater director Anne Bogart), works to challenge what Overlie calls the hierarchical “Vertical” theatrical system that privileges plot and character over other theatrical elements. Overlie has developed a full reconceptualization of theatrical practice, as well as specific rehearsal procedures, training exercises, and performance strategies to encourage performers and directors to engage on the “Horizontal” (Overlie 2013, 2006, 1999). Each element, or Viewpoint, of the stage is of equal value in its particularity: Space, Shape, Time, Emotion, Movement, and Story. Bogart has broken these down differently into nine aspects under the two general categories of time and space: tempo, duration, kinesthetic response, repetition (elements of time), spatial relation, shape, topography, gesture, and architecture (elements of space) (Bogart and Landau). For a discussion of the politics of Viewpoints in relation to contemporary activism, see my “Dog Sniff Dog: Materialist Poetics and the Politics of ‘the Viewpoints’” (2015).

3 In 2011, Voina members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Pyotr Verzilov, and Yekaterina Samutsevich left the group to found the infamous punk rock protest group, Pussy Riot (see Baranchuk, chapter 16 in this volume).

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San Jose State University COMM 40 Fall 2021 Sections 02 & 03

Kyle Johnson, Instructor Alternative Debate Assignment


Alternative Debate Assignment

Written Portion (Response paper & Introduction*): Nov. 18th uploaded to Canvas prior to class 30 pts. Ruptural Action & Introduction* Presentation: Nov. 18th & 23rd during class time 40 pts.

*The Introduction is part of both portions of the assignment, you will submit your introduction as part of the Written Portion (you may place the introduction within the response paper or in a separate document – please label the introduction where ever it may be placed to ensure you receive credit); every student must present their Introduction during class time on Tuesday or Thursday.

PURPOSE OF ASSIGNMENT Students will disregard the traditional framework of debate and instead examine ways to reclaim the rhetorical space for marginalized groups using any means they deem appropriate (so far as their choice is within the bounds of the Student Code of Conduct policy, ). Students will discover the power their actions, voice, inactions and silence has upon the community in which they live. REQUIREMENTS 1. Students will decide upon an “action” in which they will engage. “Action” for our purposes will

mean any or multiple of the following: physical act, verbal performance, non-verbal manifestation, and choice (the act of choosing). Any “action” must be within the bounds of the Student Conduct Code. Code-2016.pdf

2. Students will capture the “action” and share this with the class according to the course schedule. Capture meaning, record the “action” and play for the class, perform the “action” for the class, or discuss the “action” with the class.

3. Craft an original introduction for your “action”; Introduction includes only the following and in this order: [Supporting statement cited with a signal phrase. Thesis statement. Title of “action”]. Be sure to refer to the Introduction handout found in the Alternative Debate Module.

4. Students will write a response paper about the experience and discuss how their “action” satisfies 4 of the 6 tenants of Ruptural Performance, as discussed by Perucci (please be sure to understand these concepts as described by Perucci opposed to accepted nomenclature). Ruptural Performances are:

a. Interruptive b. Becoming-events c. Confrontation d. Baffling and confounding e. Becoming-a-problem f. Give rise to the virtuosic multitude

5. The response paper should be long enough to discuss these tenants in detail and provide insight into the student’s “action.” Papers should be formatted according to APA guidelines and standards (if you have questions as to what APA entails please review the information found on the Purdue Owl writing lab, ).

Please see reverse side for Grading Criteria & Helpful Hints

San Jose State University COMM 40 Fall 2021 Sections 02 & 03

Kyle Johnson, Instructor Alternative Debate Assignment


CRITERIA FOR GRADING Total Points for the assignment will be weighted as follows:

1- Action: The actionable element or your Ruptural argument. This must be an action you could actually accomplish or based in reality (you are not required to literally accomplish this “action” but you should be able to do so). Students must demonstrate their “action” in one of the following ways:

a. Present a recording of their “action” during class on Nov. 18th & 23rd b. Perform their “action” during class on Nov. 18th & 23rd c. Document their “action” as part of the Response Paper.

40 pts.

2- Introduction: Students will provide an introduction for their “action” that will provide context of the audience about your argument. The “introduction” must include all of the following:

a. Supporting Statement this quote material should offer support for the Ruptural argument.

b. Title of your “action” and the Cite the author or source of your material used during the “action” (If you are using original material, please cite yourself as the author or creator).

c. Thesis or argument being communicated during the Ruptural “action.”

10 pts.

3- Response paper should discuss how the Ruptural “action” fulfills 4 of the 6 tenants of Ruptural Performance as discussed in Perucci’s article, The Poetics of Ruptural Performance (2017).

20 pts.

Total points 70 pts.

HELPFUL HINTS • The Ruptural “action” should be material you are passionate about, have a deep connection to,

or you are already familiar. • Talk to me about the assignment during office during office if you are unsure of the type of

argument you should use or selecting material for the “action.” • Perform or present the “action” for me during office hours. • Think about how the material reflects you and the identity and why. Is this the identity you

want to perform? • Take risks. The bigger the performance risk the bigger the reward will be for both you and the


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