The Zone and Zones - Radical Spatiality in our Times

Broj 2 - Godina 2 - 06/2012

Uvodnik

The long-expected fourth issue of [sic] – a Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation offers a selection of papers presented at the second international conference entitled Re-Thinking Humanities and Social Sciences and held at the University of Zadar in September 2011. The conference topic, The Zone and Zones - Radical Spatiality in our Times, proved to have been intellectually enticing to almost one hundred scholars who managed to create a radical space of their own. Immersed into the zone of Croatian seaside filled with the aroma of pine trees and the Adriatic Sea, the zone of leisure rather than work, they managed to create an intellectual heterotopia by discussing the multilayered meanings of space. ..

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Izdvojeno

On the basis of ever-mounting evidence, amongst which is the “zone” problematic of the Zadar conference that occassioned these notes, it can be concluded that the spatial turn has insinuated itself as an all-pervading heuristic tool throughout the humanities and the social sciences. The extent to which space and spatiality have usurped the central stage in the various branches of reasearch can be gauged by admonishments that what we are witnessing is a new fundamentalism that has simply inverted the terms of the dualism of time and space (May and Thrift 2001: “Introduction”). According to Michael Dear the sway of space is manifested in multifold ways: in the ubiquity of spatial analysis in social theories and practices; in the explosion of publications devoted to the exploration of the interface of the social and the spatial; in the reintegration of human geography into various domains of knowledge; in the focus given to difference and the consequent diversification of theoretical and empirical practices; in a theoretically informed exploration of the relation between geographical knowledge and social action; and, finally, in the unprecedented proliferation of research agendas and publications pertaining to these isuuses (Dear 2001: 24). Two recent collections of papers are indicative of the ubiquity of spatial issues in scholarly work....

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Papagajeva mesnica nalazila se na prašnjavoj cesti na kraju grada. S betonske prizemnice visio je zahrđali željezni znak. Izdaleka se doimala poput autobusne stanice ili skladišta punog praznih boca, tako nešto. Ali kad biste se polako približili, nema toga tko gromki glas koji je punio radnju ne bi pripisao njezinu vlasniku. “Govedinu ste rekli? Od goveda imam ovo. Muuuuuu! Ih, što ne zvuči dobro? Da vam pravo kažem, i ovo je meso dobro mukalo! Muuuuuu! Muuuuuu!“To je bila jedina mesnica u gradu i bila je otvorena od jutra do mraka. Pred vratima su čest prizor bile žene s košarama. Na putu u školu uvijek smo mogli čuti mesarovo glasanje (tim smo putem išli i u osnovnu i srednju školu). Svaki put kad bismo u prolazu bacili pogled na njega, bucmasti bi se mesar oglasio, crvenih očiju i podbuhlih obraza. Žene u mesnici namignule bi jedna drugoj i smiješile se. Još više od prodaje mesa, barem je to tako izgledalo u očima nas djece, mesar je bio posvećeniji oponašanju domaćih životinja.Njegove su izvedbe bile doista sjajne. Da je kojim slučajem neki stranac prošao onuda, vjerojatno bi stekao dojam da se radi o staji u sklopu neke velike farme. Krave, svinje, ovce, kokoši... U rijetkom slučaju kad bi kroz ulaz dopiralo rzanje, kućanicama u prolazu smjesta bi bilo jasno da je u mesnicu došla svježa konjetina. Mesar bi si na ruke nataknuo prazne limenke i drvene kutijice i oponašao topot kopita. Zahvalio bi im na potpori i protresao limenku u kojoj je zveckao sitniš....

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It is time to radically rethink the question of the political – is how contemporary theorist Enrique Dussel explained the motive to write his Twenty (20) Theses on Politics [20 Tesis de política], almost six years ago. In one of his theses he stated that the radical transmutation of the political system is actually a “response to new interventions by the oppressed and excluded” (Dussel 112), or in other words, that it relies on other spaces and impulses of the political, namely on those which are dedicated to engaging in critical, that is, liberating actions. A year ago, in a joint public conversation between two leading feminist theorists – Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak – organized by the Centre for Postcolonial Theory in Frankfurt in May 2011 and devoted to critique today, the main meaning of critique was expressed neither as a method nor as a theoretical position, rather as its potency to explore “how it may be possible to think”; namely, the way “in which we pose the question of the limits of our most sure ways of knowing, doing and thinking” (Judith Butler & Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak 2011) is what constitutes a sense of critique, what makes it workable. ...

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Featuring as one of the privileged metaphors in humanities and social sciences, theatre provides primarily an image of a circumscribed space whose spatial syntax and modes of human engagement take place within and with respect to the larger space of the city, the world, and, as in Calderon’s Gran teatro del mundo, the universe. It is precisely as a special organization of spatiality that theatre reached the status of Foucault’s radical hetero-topos, flexible as it proved to be as a model for not only counter-representing all the human dealings in the external space, but also of conceptualizing, as in Freud’s psychoanalysis, man’s inner world, his psychic topography. But theatre is above all a concrete place, a built form with its own spatial history, its changing social and ideological functions, and its ways of bestowing to the bodies that enter into it actual or phantasm identities, thoughts, sensations, feelings and memories.My intervention will deal with one of the ruling borders/dichotomies/barriers of theatrical space, the one dividing “front stage” from “backstage” regions. In his detailed analysis of the latter in an individual and concrete theatre building, Andrew Filmer relies among others on Edward Soja’s “trialectics of being”, and thus also on Lefebvre’s categories of perceptual, conceptual and lived aspects of spatiality which Soja evokes, which will here be of particular interest. In contrast to the repercussions of such an analytical triad for the ethnographic study of concrete theatrical sites, I will ask how it pertains to potential manipulations of the aforementioned division of front-stage and backstage within contemporary performance practice. The temporal aspect of this manipulation should also be emphasized, having in mind the historical provenance of a whole backstage mythology – evidenced in numerous novels, plays and films situated in the backstage world - in the elaborated architectural designs of the so-called théâtre a l’italienne. It is its 19th century version, especially after the introduction of the electric light, that sharpened the separation between the darkened auditorium, the enlightened stage and the invisible space behind, where the actors prepared themselves for the entrance, and where the stage-hands of technicians assured the smoothness of the contrivance. Given the fact that 20th century European theatre history is crucially marked by attempts at breaking free from the coercions of such theatre architecture, with all its ingrained power relations, and particularly the ways in which it dictates the actor-audience relationships, contemporary come-backs to this type of theatre in the form of site-specific performances requires some further theoretical and interpretive elaboration....

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