Pulling the World Over Their Eyes: performance/installation to bring the audience in (when they would rather stay out)

Convener: Jeff McMahon

This is a work/research group for artists and practitioners, as well as scholars and activists interested in collaborating with artists, focusing on performance and installation as a way to bring an audience experientially closer to a subject. Of particular concern to myself and current collaborators are the issues of torture/coercion/extrajudicial actions, and environmental sustainability. The work group would be structured o that each participant gives a short presentation of their current work in this area, or the kind of work that they have read about/experienced/studied that might serve as an exemplar. Following these presentations, we will discuss strategies and techniques to deepen audience participation and understanding, through visceral experiences, of the above subjects and others. It is not anticipated that this workgroup result in a formal presentation, but that is always a possibility. It is also a distinct possibility that the group will share its discoveries in a series of short performances/exercises with the larger HEMI gathering as a kind of test group.

Application to the work group should consist of description of your work in live performance/installation, your interest in exploring the concept of literally bringing an audience into a work using participation and interaction. Supporting materials (slides, DVD) may be requested thereafter. Some of the ideas and strategies you have/hope to pursue in experiential performance would be very helpful. Practitioners who have not yet pursued this area of performance, but want to, will also be considered, as will scholars and activists interested in collaborating in the creation of such work. Formal papers are discouraged, as this workgroup will focus on guided discussion and experiments in a collaborative exchange of ideas and impulses. The ideal number of participants is 8-12.


Jeff McMahon works at the intersection of performance art, theatre, dance, poetry, and nonfiction, creating from topical, metaphorical, and historical sources. He holds an MFA from the Writing Division, School of the Arts, Columbia University, and has taught since 2001 in the School of Theatre and Film, Arizona State University.


Adrián Gómez
Jeff McMahon
Sayuri Guzmán
Kira Neel
Lauren Kalman