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Hooray! We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary in 2023! The celebrations will be themed around the future of arts.

How to Do Things with Performance?

What can be done with performance? What actualises when a performance takes place, when it is documented, and when it is written about?

How to do things with the performance?
How to do things with the performance?


This project asks what can be done with performance – what actualises when a performance takes place, when it is documented, and when it is written about. Through these epistemological questions, the researchers address the ontology of performance: in what ways can we understand ‘performance’ today, as a new materiality, as presence, and in the international, multilingual context where words, documents, and practices connote differently but are shared in online environments. The project seeks to update the theory of performativity vis à vis new materialist theories of agential realism and non-philosophy.

How to Do Things with Performance? brings together four views on artistic research in performance. By asking what can be done with performance as research, the project partakes in recent discussions in artistic research, in performance philosophy, and performative and performance writing as well as in the emergent discussion of performance studies in Finland.

Through performing research, artistic research defines what is the context or the world where this performance takes place. Hence, a critical attitude towards the political, social, economic, and philosophical premises of research is inherent in the process – not as given, but as produced and articulated in and as the acts of research. Moreover, artistic research does not produce only postulations about the world; rather, its processes and performances will actualise in the world as real and material events.

By focusing on such material-discursive practices, the project tests and develops further ideas related to the agency of matter and to performance, refuting the separation of the material and the textual-discursive. The project therefore continues the critique and rethinking of the meaning of performativity developed by Karen Barad in the tradition from Foucault to Braidotti, albeit with a focus on practical investigations and experiments as well as texts and academic performances. An inherently collaborative project, the project seeks to enact changes in the institutions in which the project takes place: in academia, in art, in archives and museums, in public spaces like libraries, and in relation with the larger socio-economic changes, such as migration and labour. The practical working method of creating performative writing (in the expanded sense) together will lead to joint presentations as well as solo work, to performances and workshops as well as academic publications and symposia. 


Annette Arlander, DA, is an artist, researcher and pedagogue. At present, she is professor of performance, art and theory at Stockholm University of the Arts Research Centre and visiting researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki.


Hanna Järvinen, PhD, is a dance historian and performance studies scholar. She is a docent in dance history at the University of Turku, an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester, and University Lecturer at the Performing Arts Research Centre of the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki.

Pilvi Porkola, DA, is a performance artist, researcher and writer. In 2017-18 she was Professor of Artistic Research at the Performing Arts Research Centre of the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. She is the editor of “Performance Artist’s Workbook: Essays on teaching and learning performance art” (Uniarts 2017).

Tero Nauha, performance artist and visual artist, holds a Doctor of Art (theatre and drama). Nauha’s doctoral dissertation at the Theatre Academy of the Universitay of the Arts Helsinki took a critical look at the relationship between artistic work and immanent capitalism. Nauha’s artistic work has been performed at several theatres and festivals both in Finland and around Europe.

Contact information for the project

Project name

How to Do Things with Performance?




Academy of Finland


  • Annette Arlander
  • Hanna Järvinen
  • Pilvi Porkola
  • Tero Nauha