Thoughts about “Interweaving Performance Cultures”

Which kind of relation is created through interweaving processes? What can interweaving tell us about the potentiality of a relation? These are crucial questions for my approach to the concept of interweaving of performance cultures. As image interweaving points to the irreducible diversity of connections, which bring into relatedness not essentialist identities, but further hybrid forms. By that, it is noticeable that interweaving exceeds its threads allowing them to reach a particular and actual configuration beyond themselves. It is also a matter of the circulation of threads, in such a manner that they constantly flow and that they relate precisely through its movement.

Besides these motifs, I would like here to emphasize work and effect of the interface of translation. In both processes – of translating and interweaving, which are interrelated on several levels – there is no place for the illusion of a pure and immediate consonance, because their dynamic and their forms of connection are rather to be seen as the procedure of a negotiation and as its tentative result.

Translations make us remember that in interweaving spaces we roam from difference to difference. Their transitions are not only to be understood linguistically, but culturally in a broader sense. What matters is much more mediation, which can be experimented through diverse detours and which effectuate deviation and transformation ever and ever again. Such processes are only made possible – and this is the kind of interweaving I would like here to stress – when the involved actors assume the transformability of their premises and agree to put them at risk. The outset of the oscillating space for assemblies and new arrangements depends on the assumption of this sense of one’s own unstableness and therefore precariousness.

A dimension of how far translations can reach I received through interchanges among Amerindians known as Waiwai in Northern Amazonia, not only because of their dense interrelated cosmos and their amazing linguistic talent, but above all because of their conviction that a direct relation – as for example the one through eye contact, which is so important in Western ways of relating – is only an uncultivated and therefore minimal relation. Their translations provide and take care of the life and, to be more precise, the afterlife of a relation whilst engaging with its ripped and fringe laterality rather than with its permanence.

This kind of indirect lateral relation can be connected with the conceptual image of detour as described in the work of Hans Blumenberg, where Umweg (detour) appears as the device of excellence of cultural creations. In this approach detours are means of divergence and plurality in the face of the homogeneity promoted by the institutionalization of the shorter and more direct way. While from the point of view of a straight calculation detours are censured because of their imbalance of means and ends, Blumenberg sees in them opening forms of experience that permit diversity on the world and, even more, the diversity of worlds. Detours discover uncountable trajectories between one point and another and this not only in the cartographies of space, but also in the ones of culture, as can be seen in eminent cultural inventions such as metaphor and translation.

A task of translation could be followed by looking ethnographically at the state of emergence of the performance collectives, at their concrete negotiations and compromises, retreats and advances, pacts and strategies, tests and adaptations made by every new configuration. It seems to be crucial to investigate the transactions at work between the agents rather than the outcomes of such movements, their solidifications. Being able to be described as an afterlife through translations or as a life in constellations, this kind of togetherness broadens the range of possible relations experimented in the social performances of interweaving cultures.