Chris Green


This practice-as-research project uses performance writing to understand, illustrate and work through aspects of millennial experience, with a specific interest in precarious housing and labour. For us, experiencing precarity means that fundamental aspects of what is required to experience what Lauren Berlant calls ‘a good life’ (including secure working contracts, renters’ rights, access to leisure time) are not being met. This leads to a feeling of ‘living on the edge’ (Ahmed, 2017: 238), which in turn prevents us from being able to imagine alternatives. This performance writing takes the form of scores, instructions, maps, walking, knitting, zines, and audio recordings. We submit four artworks to be examined alongside the written element of the thesis, which is constructed around their analysis: House Box (2017), Desires for Labour (2019), Chapel Street or Wherever you Are (2021) and Recipe Book (2021). Performance writing is here understood as theorised by academics such as Caroline Bergvall and Ric Allsopp whereby a consideration of text includes visual, physical, aural, and performative elements and there are no fixed boundaries between performance and writing. Instead, there is a ‘continuing and transforming relationship between the two terms’ (Allsopp, 1999: 77). This thesis seeks to develop and offers a more refined definition of performance writing. Our approach to performance writing emphasises embodied action, affect and experience in its production and its encounter. As such, we frame Barthes’ literary theories of readerly and writerly text through the lens of performance studies. We demonstrate through our practice how performance writing undergoes a continuous process of rewriting through its encounter. Particular focus is placed upon the production of performance writing objects, and this is demonstrated through the range of ways that performance writing has been produced. Through this, we argue that performance writing can offer hopeful strategies to reimagine the future through the political potential of friendship. Whilst performance writing might not result in the means to plan for the future, its relationship to imagination may lay the groundwork for this and is presented as a potential. Due to the collaborative nature of this research project, this PhD offers insights into co-authored meaning-making in the performing and visual arts, in addition to establishing the value of performance writing objects within the context of millennial precarity.

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