'They Say it’s Cutting Edge’: Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Practice in the Visual and Performing Arts

Mark Harvey
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Many artists and performers often signal their practice as ‘avant-garde’ because they employ either ‘interdisciplinary’ or ‘transdisicplinary’ methods. This paper aims to examine and question such assumptions through considering Michel Foucault’s writings on utopias and heterotopias. It will be proposed that while many who work with these notions convey heterotopic intentions, such goals appear to be more utopic due to practices that are object-based (and modernist), rather than boundary-pushing through post-object methodologies.

In addition to this, a re-working of Louis Althusser and Slavoj Zizek’s writings on ideology (through Tim Dean’s understanding of Lacanian psychoanalysis) will be applied in reflection to why certain artists and performers might stay within the boundaries of disciplines and object-based practice, despite intentions to the contrary.

Examples of approaches to practice will be discussed in relation to these reflections. Also, the practices of artists and performers who might provide insights into how heterotopic practice can be produced will be discussed, such as Charles Koroneho (Aotearoa/NZ) and Guillermo Gomez Pena (Mexico/USA).

Rather than nullifying ‘interdisciplinarity’ and ‘transdisciplinarity’ as strategies, this paper aims to alert attention onto the formation and communication of practitioners’ ideas, rather than allowing the forms they employ dominate their processes and discussion.

Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, Transdisciplinarity, Avant-garde, Utopias/Heterotpias, Foucault, Althusser, Zizek, Charles Koroneho, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Visual Arts, Performance
Stream: Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: 'They say it’s Cutting Edge’

Mark Harvey

Lecturer, Dance Studies, The National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, The University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand, New Zealand

Mark Harvey is a performance artist, choreographer and writer, and lectures at the University of Auckland in Dance related practice and theory. Harvey has focussed his writing on cultural theory in relation to visual and performance practices (including choreography, performance art, installation practices and interdisciplinary approaches), as well as cultural identity. He has shown performance art and video installation works at a range of Australasian venues, including Open Home Hamper (the Physics Room, Christchurch, 2002), Home Helper (Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, 2003), Pesudopanix (Lopdell House Gallery, Auckland, 2004), Tony and His Mirror (City Gallery, Wellington, 2005), as well as Make Me Happy (TARI 2005, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). For the last 14 years Harvey has collaborated with artists from a range of mediums such as Charles Koroneho (performance), George Chang (artist) and Gabriel White (artist and musician). Having trained and practiced as a contemporary dancer he has a masters in performance studies and is currently engaged in a PhD in performance practice and theory (on the performance of the notion of the white man). Currently with Alys Longley and Ralph Buck Harvey has writing being published in the British journal Performance Research on the indexing and classification of Western dance.

Ref: A06P0376