Eco-Specificity: Performing the Heterogeneous Centre of the Ecological Imperative

Sozita Goudouna

conference: DARE 2015: the dark precursor
date: November 10, 2015
venue: De Bijloke Music Center, Mezzanine
format: in words
practice: performance
keywords: A Thousand Plateaus, assemblage, refrain

abstract about the author(s)


Sites of performance, of exhibition, or display are revealed to be culturally specific situations that generate particular contexts, ethics, and narratives regarding art, art history, and society. Community involvement and the social division between the notions of the public and the private are strongly associated with the ethos that is generated during the performance of site- and eco-specific art projects. This presentation addresses Deleuzian philosophy in relation to the question of the relation between oikos and “eco-dramaturgy” through an examination of the “eco-critical” and site-specific project “Eleventh Plateau” by the non-profit company Out of the Box Intermedia that took place in 2011 at eleven sites on the island of Hydra and the uninhabited island of Dokos, Greece.

The paper discusses the inseparability of the work and its context and the intersection between performance and visual arts, landscape architecture, and environmental science, to propose a theoretical framework for examining new models of site-specificity affected by the unstable relationship between ecology, location, and society.

“Eleventh Plateau” is a multidisciplinary project involving collaboration across universities, art companies, and scientific institutes that seeks to understand the landscape of Hydra, its origins, its influences, and the derivative effects of these on its natural and cultural milieu and to promote a shift of the ecological ethos of the island in the expanded context of art practice.

“Eleventh Plateau” refers to the eleventh plateau in A Thousand Plateaus, “1837: Of the Refrain” where the refrain (ritournelle) is defined as “any aggregate of matters of expression that draws a territory and develops into territorial motifs and landscapes.” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 356) A refrain can be sonorous, musical. A bird song can be a refrain; “there is no form or correct structure imposed from without or above but rather an articulation from within, as if oscillating molecules, oscillators, passed from one heterogeneous centre to another, if only for the purpose of assuring the dominance of one among them” (ibid., 362).

“Eleventh Plateau” creates an intra-assemblage that holds together the heterogeneous elements of the different sites/plateaus. This intra-assemblage can be seen as an alternative territory. A territory is the first constituent of an assemblage, and as such is fundamental to it. It is a place of passage. The territory is the critical distance between two beings of the same species. “Eleventh Plateau” focuses on practices of critical intervention that promote a specific ethos relating to the definition, production, presentation, and dissemination of art. The aim is to readdress in an activist sense urgent social problems such as the ecological crisis. The project investigates the different layers of the islands: the archaeological past, contemporary economic culture, the ecological future, the excluded and the popular, zoology (animal/human interrelations), and land art and shifts in the representation of nature by displacing the performances and the objects of art from the theatre or gallery to the landscape.



Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

about the author(s)

Sozita Goudouna

Sozita Goudouna is the Andrew Mellon Curatorial Fellow at Performa New York, an arts organisation committed to the research, development, and presentation of performance by visual artists. Her book on respiration and art, Mediated Breath, is forthcoming in 2015. She is elected as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors at International Association of Art Critics AICA Hellas and as a member of the Board of Directors at the International Theatre Institute Hellenic Centre. She is the artistic director of the European funded art programme “Kappatos Athens Art Residency” under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. Artists in residence include Lynda Benglis, Santiago Sierra, Martin Creed, Roy Ascott, Marie Voignier, and others. She is an Onassis scholar, holds a PhD from the University of London on the interfaces between the visual and performing arts, and has also studied philosophy, theatre, and directing in London (BA, MA Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Kings College London).

info & contact


Performa New York, US