Thank you all for the warm welcome to DAS Graduate School. It’s been a real pleasure to start to get to know some of you over the last few weeks and I am really looking forward to getting to know you all better over the months and years to come. I can’t really express how fortunate I feel to be here and how excited I am about the new worlds and ways of being we might bring into existence together at the school. It has been and continues to be such a relentlessly difficult time – because of Corona, violent injustice and expanding inequalities, environmental catastrophes and so on. And yet, even being at DAS for this short time, has renewed my sense of hope that we can work together to cultivate a habitat that nurtures curiosity and criticality, joy and justice, care and resistance.
A little about me, in case you are curious: I came to the Netherlands from the UK this summer with my husband and two children – our son Eoin who is 6 and our daughter Aoife who is 4. I was born and raised in Scotland; went to art school in London and made paintings, sculpture, installation, photography and performance; then did a part-time Masters in philosophy and critical theory whilst continuing to work as performance-maker. My interest in philosophy extended into my PhD which was about how the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze might change how we think about theatre and performance. This study turned into my book Theatres of Immanence – which tries to stage an encounter between Deleuze’s ideas and the work of artists like Artaud, the Living Theatre, Allan Kaprow, Hijikata Tatsumi, Lygia Clark, and Goat Island.
Right now, I am working on a research project - Performance Philosophy & Animals: Towards a Radical Equality – whichexplores how the performing arts might offer more ethical ways of knowing, particularly in terms of our relationships to nonhuman animals. The project involves collaborations with some brilliant artists including Rajni Shah, Fevered Sleep and Every house has a door. In February, I worked with Fevered Sleep on a project called Sheep Pig Goat to explore the ethics of interspecies encounters in the context of a vet school. With Every house, I’m working on an illuminated manuscript project called Bestiary which I’m making alongside and in response to the new performance they are working on, called Aquarium, which deals with themes of extinction, contamination and precarity. And Rajni and I are currently making a podcast series called how to think that explores healing, decolonial and dehumanist practices in/as conversations with Ria Hartley, Julietta Singh, Omikemi and Khairani Barokka.
Another big part of my life is the work I do as part of the field known as ‘Performance Philosophy’. Performance Philosophy is the name of an international research network I was involved in founding in 2012, and that anyone can join. We strive to be an inclusive, non-hierarchical organization and work together on a range of initiatives including a biennial conference, an open access journal and a book series. One key idea of this field is that performance thinks and that thinking is something we perform or enact. We’re interested in the knowledge that is produced in and through embodied events and how to dismantle the hierarchies between different modes of thought. I co-edited The Routledge Companion to Performance Philosophy (2020) which brings together writing by artists, philosophers and scholars across the disciplines to explore these ideas. There is a copy of the book in the ATD and DAS Graduate School libraries if you would like to find out more and an online launch event on October 9th organised by LUCA school of arts to which you are all warmly invited!
That is probably more than enough for now. Please do get in touch with me or pop into my office any time if you would like to find out more about what I am doing, and keep me informed about your projects and activities both within DAS and beyond!
Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca
Head of DAS Graduate School