Disputatio I, II, III

Efrosini Protopapa (Choreographer)

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


This practice-as-research multi-component output investigates how disagreement or dispute can be practiced as a way of thinking together (with) rather than against another, and examines the embodied positions, rhythms and movements involved in such a practice.

The project stems from my research into thinking as a choreographic action, which builds on Hannah Arendt’s writings on the relationship between thinking and acting (Protopapa 2013; 2015; 2017). It further explores the tension between image and event, representation and embodiment, by turning to images from art historian Aby Warburg’s Photographic Collection of artworks from classical antiquity to circa 1800, in particular those in his taxonomy filed under the category disputatio (dispute or disagreement). The project manifests as a triptych of works that use choreography in order to: 1. engage with the imaginative potential of depicted gestures and bodily dispositions, specifically of parties in dispute, and 2. test the possibility of disagreement as an action of shared thinking through live and digital encounters.

Commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance for the exhibition material / rearranged / to / be (m/r/t/b), the three works are conceived as distinct choreographic experiments. They use diverse formats and media to investigate the multi-faceted yet interconnected elements involved in a situation of dispute in the particular setting of a gallery. Informed by Jacques Rancière’s writings on disagreement and Chantal Mouffe’s influential work on agonistics and political conflict, each piece engages the audience differently to expose the particular kind of thinking that is practiced in disagreement, the structures of speech in argumentative debate and the postures and gestures of parties in dispute. Disputatio I is a one-to-one encounter with a performer who attempts to construct scenarios of disagreement with audience members; Disputatio II is an audio piece that positions the listener (gallery visitor) in the body of a voice speaking one side of a two-way argumentative conversation; Disputatio III is a film animation that rearranges images from the Warburg Collection into a series of perpetually changing pairs of figures in dispute.

Arendt, H. (1998). The Human Condition. The University of Chicago Press.

Georgelou, K., Protopapa, E., Theodoridou, D. (Eds.). (2017). The Practice of Dramaturgy: Working on Actions in Performance. Valiz Press. 

Protopapa, E. (2013). ‘Choreography as philosophy, or exercising thought in performance’. In J. Bunker, A. Pakes, & B. Rowell (Eds.), Thinking Through Dance: The Philosophy of Dance Performance and Practices (pp. 273-90). Dance Books.

Protopapa, E. (2015). ‘On thinking: appearances and withdrawals’. Maska: Performing Arts Journal, XXX, 169-171, Spring-Summer (pp. 74-79).

Mouffe, C. (2013). Agonistics: Thinking the World Politically. Verso Books.

Rancière, J. (1999). Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy. Translation: J. Rose. University of Minnesota Press.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool
PublisherSiobhan Davies Dance
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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