Contingency of the Now

Contingency of the Now is a performance project curated by Rie Hovmann Rasmussen that explores the questions: what is presence, what is its role today and what potential does it have? Taking its point of reference from the discussion on presence within performance, the project investigates processes and structures of presence and how it might effect and transform relations between the performer, audience and space.

The performance project will be divided in two parts over 2014, where each will focus on different aspects of presence. The first performance series with the title Contingency of the Now #1 took place in June 2014 at NLHspace in Copenhagen with the artists Nanna Lysholt Hansen, Trine Mee Sook Gleerup and Maline Casta and explored processes of presence in relation to time and endurance. In October 2014 Contingency of the Now #2 presented two performances by the artist Melanie Jame Wolf, that investigated digital media and its effect and potential in developing intimate relations.

Debates on presence have a long history within theatre and performance and became pivotal around the late 1950s and onwards with the development of performance art. Key aspects of the discussions were the presence of the performer, especially within theatre, and how aura and authenticity of the performer might manifest the experience of presence. Also specific interests in the audience experience emerged, focusing on a more subjective experience, which often sought to reject the transcendental understanding of presence led by the former. In both cases presence was connected to the presence/absence of the artist body and the liveness of the performance.

With an increased interest in also mediated and simulated performances as well as its documentation, the connection between presence and the live event were revisited in order to open up for a more complex understanding of the relation between performance and presence. Instead of focusing on the occurrence within a specific environment, recent theories in presence suggest that presence is emergent in time and is constituted by developing a consciousness of the self in and before another object or subject. Presence is determined by an increased self-awareness and awareness of one’s surroundings. This experience will vary in time and space as it is determined by the social and cultural. Presence can therefore never be resolved by a specific location or by simply one being there.

The title Contingency of the Now refers to the uncertainty of the experience of presence in performance, as it unfolds in the present. Aligned with the concept of presence as an increased awareness and self-awareness the project revisits the promise of presence in performance and explore how it might open up for discussions on identity, being, relations and cultural and political structures.



An important group of people have made this project possible with their support. Thanks to Renée Padt, Elin Lundgren, Zep Andersen, Nanna Lysholt Hansen, Trine Mee Sook Gleerup, Maline Casta, Melanie Jame Wolf and Suada Ada Demirovic.

A special thanks to Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris, Louise Iversen and Jenny Richards for their editorial feedback and critic.

Supported by

Københavns Billedkunstudvalg | CuratorLab / Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design | IASPIS – Konstnärsnämnden | The Danish Arts Foundation | NLHspace

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