Writing about the opacity of project documentation with respect to the sensational rhetoric that surrounds them, I searched for an essay I had written a few years ago. Raoul Eshelman’s book Performatism or the end of Postmodernism is at the heart of my argument. Apologies, my writing style follows a German narrative arc, in which the academic resolution comes at the end and is not revealed in the intro.
Here’s how it starts.
The thing about performance, even if it’s only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.
Sydney Smith 1771-1845
It seems as if Sydney Smith had already looked at performance from a postmodernist and performatist perspective long before both had been conceptualized. I can only speculate if ‚the infinite possibilities within ourselves’ refers to the interpretative volatility of postmodernism or the author-centered transcendence of performatism. Both explanations make sense, although Eshelman contains that postmodernism contradicts performatism. In this article, I will try to assess ‚performance’ within theoretic classifications, starting with classical concepts that link theatrical and everyday behaviour.