30 March 2017

Politics and Performance international (PPi) Aberystwyth University


Aberystwyth, 6-­‐8 April 2017

In this three-­‐day symposium we reflect on the politics of disappearance, investigating how aesthetic practices of representing absence and materialising presence engage with the embodied experience of those facing the trauma of disappearance. How does artistic practice make manifest what happens when someone is missing, relating the responses of relatives to the event of disappearance, and exposing how those responsible are called to account.

People who  are disappeared leave traces behind: traces of presence, photographs and personal possessions. Though the demand is “We want them back alive!’ in the end it is often only human remains—skeletal traces—that are recovered and identified. The relatives of the disappeared also make traces of their own: their shoes wear out as they walk from office to office demanding action, as they march in protest, and as they search for the bodies of their missing relatives. They trace the names of their sons or daughters in thread, embroidering handkerchiefs or headscarves in their honour, and keeping the possibility of their return alive.

We explore how these material traces made by relatives form an embodied challenge to absence, one that can be animated and set to work, and we look at the spread of the search for and forensic identification of remains beyond ‘experts’. The symposium takes place alongside two exhibitions: Footprints of Memory: Searching for Mexico’s Disappeared, by Mexican artist Alfredo Lopez Casanova, and Stitched Voices, an exhibition including textiles marking disappearance.


Speakers include:


  • Vikki Bell, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths
  • Arely Cruz-­‐Santiago, Research Postgraduate, Department of Geography, Durham
  • Jill Greenhalgh, Theatre Maker, Artistic Director of The Magdalena Project
  • Danielle House, ESRC Doctoral Candidate, International Politics, Aberystwyth
  • Adrian Kear, Professor of Theatre and Performance, Aberystwyth
  • Becky Knight, Textile Artist
  • Alfredo Lopez Casanova, Plastic Artist, Mexico City
  • Mike Pearson, Emeritus Professor, Aberystwyth

 Registration:  Attendance is free and open to all. To register, and for more details, go to the Eventbrite page.

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