July 2021

Simon Asencio and Martina Leeker: And what about those who prefer not to appear?

Blend&Bleed: On Transreality and Pervasive Play

Taking its title from the first chapter of Judith Butler’s Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Simon Asencio and Martina Leeker’s session explored different modes of presence to reflect on notions of publicness, anonymity, and performance on- and offline. It also employed “theory theater” and hyper-affirmative performance to examine the topic of digital culture as critique.

Once I tutored a student who, over the course of our work together, became psychotic. This happened before my eyes and yet presented itself as a deep mystery. It was, among other things, a mystery in language (...)

“One day he asked me if characters chose their authors. I sat for a moment silently, transfixed by the prospect of characters floating through the ether as they searched for the right ‘host.’ What should I say? Where did characters come from?” [1]1
Camille Roy, “Under Grid: An Essay On Obscurity,” in From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice, eds. Rob Halpern and Robin Tremblay-McGawn (Oakland: ON Contemporary Practice, 2017), 297–308.

Marina Leeker has a background in theater studies and media studies, as well as in theater and performance practice. She held an assistant professorship in Theater and Media at the University of Bayreuth from 2002 to 2010 and was a senior researcher at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg, from 2013 to 2018. She has been a guest professor for media studies and theater pedagogy. Her research interests include digital cultures; theater/performance and media; theater, performativity, and digitality; art and technology; critique; posthuman (art) education; and mimesis. As part of her academic work, Leeker is building on research with artistic methods, in particular performative methods, within lecture-performances and speculation-labs.

Simon Asencio creates performances that question the notions of liveness, stage, and audience. His work takes the form of exhibition scenarios, text-based ephemera, and covert acts. He often uses imposture and the expression of doubt as means to develop and present his work. Since 2014, he is a body for Jessica’s work, a protracted performance of real-life background acting, and works on the publication The Book of Rumours, an extended project on deceptive narratives and the performance of information. In 2018, he launched Memes, a series of text-based experiments to enable transferences of subjectivity. His work has recently been presented at Ujazdowski Castle for Contemporary Arts, Warsaw; Immaterial Performance program, Mexico City; Center for Contemporary Arts, Celje, Slovenia; and Jan Mot and Bureau des Réalités, both in Brussels. Residency projects include Triangle France, Marseille, and BAR Projects, Barcelona.

Paulina Lara was born in 1990 in Mexico and is a multidisciplinary artist based in Madrid. Her work explores the relation between architecture, identity, and space through different media such as photography, sculpture, and ceramics and collaborations with other artists and professionals from different fields. Her collaboration with artist and filmmaker Nicolás Combarro for the project “Spontaneous Architecture,” an exhibition and a photobook, has been exhibited in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, and Chicago. As a performer she has collaborated with Dora García on several occasions for different pieces, including the artist’s retrospective exhibition at the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, under the direction of Michelangelo Miccolis. She collaborated with Simon Asencio for the piece Extr Jessica during the performance program of Material Art Fair 2019, Mexico City.

Stefan Govaart engages dance, performance, poetry, and theory to draw out histories, gestures, and locution that have a convoluted relationship with their own sense of continuity. Govaart works as a dancer (with choreographers Eszter Salamon and Chloe Chignell, among others); co-organizes SpringMeeting at Performing Arts Forum, Saint-Erme-Outre-et-Ramecourt, France; and holds a Master of Arts in cultural analysis from the University of Amsterdam.


00:09:11: Keynote by Fanny Cybert(r)on [footnote Fanny Cybert(r)on performed by Martina Leeker.]
00:52:44: Break in Smokers’ Room
01:04:21: Jessica in conversation with Simon Asencio [footnote Jessica and Simon Asencio performed by Paulina Lara and Stefan Govaart.]
01:34:02: Discussion

Preview image: Simon Asencio and Martina Leeker, And what about those who prefer not to appear?, 2021. Holiday picture sent through a Signal correspondence. Photo: Edith Stefanato.

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