Encuentro Work Group


Performing Disability / Enabling Performance Work Group



Performance and disability have been in close conversation since their concurrent emergence in the second half of the twentieth century. Touching upon themes common to performance studies and disability studies, such as embodiment, subjectivity and the politics of movement, this working group focuses on the interface of performance and disability. It invites artists, academics, theorists, and activists to explore, through haptic and kinaesthetic means, how the two paradigms might challenge and productively inform each other.


Enabling performance

In what ways might critical perspectives on disability, disease and health enhance current understandings of performance and performativity? How do disabled bodies challenge conventions of representation in art and in everyday life? How might disability redefine the conditions of acting, seeing, hearing, and engaging in performance? What new perspectives can critical disability research, including “crip theory” bring to discussions on the tensions between lived experience, the physical “realities” of the body, social constructions of disability and systemic forms of discrimination?


Performing disability

In an era of chronic illness and ageing populations where the acronym TAB (Temporarily Able-Bodied) is replacing the term able-bodied (see Davis 2002: 36), what is the legacy of the term disability and how might performance help situate that legacy? How might performance and performance studies energize and animate tired debates, such as the impairment and disability divide? How could performance – as a mode of inquiry – be used to represent pain and convey extremely embodied experiences of disability? What are the ways in which disability connects with and diverges from oft-used paradigms in performance studies such as gender, sex, queer, ethnicity, and post-colonialism?


Davis, Lennard (2002) Bending over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult Positions, New York: NYU Press.



The working group accepts papers, performances, experimental work, videos, etc. Session presentations and discussions will be in the form of a dialogue rather than standard conference format. The final session of the group will be a think-tank practice where participants will collaboratively: a. discuss the issues that have emerged out of previous sessions, b. bullet point the current interface of performance and disability and think of ways to diversify this interface, c. reflect on the gathering of the work group itself, the practical issues involved, and contemplate on alternative conference formats.

Arseli Dokumaci and Kim Sawchuk

  • Amanda Cachia
  • Ashley McAskill
  • Benjamin Gillespie
  • Carola Garcia
  • Danielle Peers, Lindsay Eales & Kelsie Acton
  • Faye Ginsburg
  • Heather (Dillon) Vrana
  • Janet Gibson
  • Jennifer Jimenez & Stephen Sillett
  • Lana Lin
  • Krista Miranda
  • Koby Rogers Hall & Maria Schirmer
  • Laurence Parent
  • Margaret Ames
  • Mara Mills
  • Tamar Tembeck
  • Véro Leduc
  • Yvonne Schmidt