Branislav Jakovljević’s “Performance Apparatus”

Branislav Jakovljević
“Performance Apparatus”

What is a performance apparatus? If under capitalism the subject is defined in terms ownership, how can art forms that resist objectification redefine our idea of subjectivity? The starting point of this talk is Louis Althusser’s influential essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.” Published in 1970, it was one of the seminal texts for the formation of the “apparatus theory” in cinema studies and became a cornerstone for theoretical considerations of the very nature of film as a medium. In cinema studies, apparatus theory posits the cinematic apparatus (from film camera, to process of recording, to the situation of projection on film screen) as a social process that demonstrates the ideological nature of art. This kind of rigorous engagement with the idea of the apparatus has been absent from performance studies. The main argument of this presentation is that in performance art, the apparatus is located outside of the technological and in a different positioning of the theoretical in relation to artistic practice. Instead, it is situated in the broad area of everyday behaviors and practices, which performance artists from the 1970s recognized even if they didn’t define their work in terms of the critique of ideology.