Performative Strategies for the Embodied Mind

A big part of my work deals with the question how art and religion interfere with individual subjectivity. One part of research is my own artistic practice, the performative and interventionist investigation of embodied knowledge and aesthetic experiences. Another is a theoretical and empirical cultural-scientific approach concerned with socio-cultural aesthetically grounded strategies, f.e. empowerment strategies of contemporary Pentecostal communities . 

PERFORMANCE SERIES

DISASTER RITUALS

Aesthetic re-contextualisation of embodied trauma via repetitive and interactive, material-semiotic activity

RESEARCH PAPER

Strategies for the Embodied Mind: Empowerment and the Transformation of Individual Subjectivity in the Context of Contemporary Pentecostalism

ABSTRACT

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Studies on contemporary Pentecostal churches highlight the potential to provide an alternative approach to ‘top-down’ and ‘westernised’ development based on the observed capacity to enable a holistic transformation of the individual. People are empowered to contrive, embody, and enact a new perspective on themselves and their own spectrum of action via the culturally nestled and spiritually embedded re-shaping of their identity and self-perception in combination with social and material support. This paper investigates the transformation of individual subjectivity in empowerment strategies of contemporary Pentecostal Churches. Case studies on two churches in Gauteng, South Africa,unveiled these churches’ capacity to initiate individual and cultural transformations is closely linked to their respective structuring of aesthetic experiences. The brief introduction of the key results will serve to illustrate different structural levels of the transformation processes of individual subjectivity: a performatively enhanced sensorial and destabilising aesthetic experience; its materialising mediation and immediate contextualisation through aesthetic sensorial management; and the stabilisation of its interpretation through social reassurance, cultural anchorage and internalised technologies of the self. Within a broad concept of aesthetics referring to aisthesis, symbolic patterns and single symbols are examined in their aesthetic dimension and their respective effect on the individual meaning system and perception. In correlation with collective effervescence and technologies of the self, the socially powerful and cultural productive potential of aesthetics, and conversely, the collective and cultural influence on the initiation, contextualisation and stabilisation of aesthetic experiences become apparent.