The online survey for EotW–through which users generated controlled experimental environments, lines of inquiry, and/or “theatrical/theoretical vehicles”–closed January 1, 2017. 64 qualified users completed the survey.

This January, we are now meeting with users who chose to become collaborating co-operators. We are also designing participatory scores for users who chose that mode of engagement, devising scores to “present” subjected users who selected the option “Present As,” and building out the PPL site to house the performative research generated via these and other online and embodied processes. The forms of research which have generated forms that might be considered “opera performance” are open to the public (at 104 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, NY):

Friday, February 3, 8pm: “Christen”
Saturday, February 4, 3pm-6pm: “Nina Isabelle” 8pm and onward: “Geraldo,”“samuel”
Sunday, February 5, 8pm: “johannagilje”
Monday, February 6, 8pm: “aliftig,” 9pm: “elizabethlamb”
Tuesday, February 7, 8pm: “diane”
Wednesday, February 8, 8pm: “Sumo”
Friday, February 10, 8pm: “huckjackhexjar”
Saturday, February 11, 6pm-onward: “LukeJM,” “Tsedaye,” “jgladstone”
Tuesday, February 14, 4pm-8pm: “lovelovelove,” 9pm: “belel”
Wednesday, February 15, 8pm: “daver,” 9:30pm: “crossoffice”
Thursday, February 16, 8pm: “Jessica”
Friday, February 17, 7pm and onward: “Valera,” “Zhen,”“Aranzazu,”“raziaisthenameofmycat”
Saturday, February 18, 4pm-6pm: “ElaineThap,” 8pm: “aevi and me”
Wednesday, February 22, 7pm: “jamieburkart,” 8pm: “BenjaminL/T-S,” 9pm: “Adrift Dismantled”
Thursday, February 23, 8:00pm: “Violistakaren,” 9pm: “IV,” 10pm: “Sierra.Elena”
Friday, February 24, 8pm: “Valerie Kuehne,” 9:30pm: “It’s Me,” 10pm: “2sad4dismrkfrshspnch,” 11pm-exhaustion: “abandonedtires”
Saturday, February 25, 7pm: “ilzost,” 8pm: “imageobject,” 9pm: “cafecafè”
Sunday, February 26, 5pm-unknown: “dahvvv”
Monday, February 27, 8pm: “lolotrashbo”
February 28, 8pm: “tinyfruit”

*Users who selected option “F” generate likelihoods and may or may not be “performed” in forms recognizable as “performance” at some point or throughout the month: “Christine O” “BluMom” “laureljay” “hollowobscenity” “cat” “linzdrury” “MatthewGGannt” “Linda” “me” “ultradella” “pmqwerty” “Cbxtn” “Queena”

We are not whole / You Complete Me / use me / this is not my system / we are not chaotic, we are chaos / we the (un)incorporated


Reframing text, as of January 1, 2017

January 1, 2015 a text was released as the first “transition document” for Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL), the site and activities described as such. Since then, we’ve[1] decided to re-frame the art project that is the more the “space” “Panoply Performance Laboratory” approximately every 2 years. We don’t have a “core mission statement” but (as performance artists ourselves) we have a need act out a lot of (in)stating and (in)forming which locate, ground, and help us think about the work at hand (ethically, politically, practically) just as forms of work are constantly shifting.  Since we are the ones working here (anyone writing or using this text), such writing adventures have no other purpose for themselves than to be of fit form to their own at-hand purposes.

Statements written at the end of 2014 lead us to consider how we were practicing conscientiously—purposefully—in modes that we have now come to label “socio-ethical,” or “intentionally constructive.” We might also (Brecht-style) call our mode “dialectical;” decision-making procedures are performed through (agonistic) reasoning, with forms and logics for reasons (i.e. reason[s]=cause[s], both in the ideological sense and in the sense of cause-and-effect) adaptive to particular problems at hand.

Additionally, we do sometimes believe that our ways of doing things can be articulated and used to design our future ways of doing things (as with methods, tactics, techniques) based on anticipated (researched, experienced, potentially causally-or-otherwise-correlated) affects[2] and consequences.[3] We do not entirely dissolve into “becoming in situ” (impossible anyway) because we cannot deny responsibility for implications, affects, and consequences of our actions.

Simultaneous fitting of form to ideal(ology) and taking on of responsibility are working definitions for “quality/qualification,” performing alternatives to capitalist judgment and authorization schemas.

The formation of an organizational committee to deal with open call proposals, the hosting of more private/insular conversations, social gatherings, and meetings, support of durational investigation processes, and more familial (anti-institutional) forms of communication and mediation have partially continued in the various directions declared and alluded-to by the first transition document. As a laboratory site, focusing on processes of collective ideation and intentional social construction, many “shows” were replaced by projects with forms consistent with their “contents and concepts.” The need to fix plumbing, perpetual problems with the front door, troubled interpersonal dealings with a few entitled/misunderstanding artists, exhaustion, filth, fear, and poverty have remained constant.

Perhaps most generally, we have attempted—though it often feels like pulling a fly’s wing out of molasses—to move away from forms of passivity, reform any neo-liberal attempts at “sustainability,” and avoid other generally lassaiz-faire approaches to equity, quality, visibility, and “diversity” and “access.” Our language has gotten more pointed and specific, our tone more harsh, our rhetoric more “divisive” and partisan, we have become formally clearer (thanks to the work of Thomas DeFrantz, for example) about operating in pro-BIPOC (and anti-whitely) and Queer modes, attempting to correlate actions with political emergencies. On one hand, our sensibilities and aesthetics are increasingly ordered by direct resistances to particular political and economic forces, on the other hand, we keep our wounds as wide open as possible in order to practice specific ways of dealing with them.

Specificity is not the same as “getting better,” or “knowing better.” Specifically, increasing specificity is practiced by correlating located perceptions, sensations, and actions with directionality (i.e. locative contexts) and intentionality (motivating contexts). Becoming “more specific” is not a functional process that necessarily produces any “methodological knowledge” or value-point “information.” Thus, as we enter 2017, we may feel far less clear about what we’ve learned from the past two years, or nearly five years of relating to the world through the lens of life-work as/in/with/inside PPL, this thing which presumes it has some purpose (how so, specifically?) and maintains some ideological motivation (towards which anticipated/imagined consequences, specifically?).

The idea that we keep returning to is that of a “laboratory;” a site where people practice collective ideation. As a laboratory, PPL is not necessarily bending its forms around “entertainment,” or “support of artists” or “comfort” (though social safety is paramount), rather some discomfort and vulnerability is often felt as we attempt to work together, to speak together, to get things done even when we don’t agree or share experiences, and so on.

We can come together and move apart in so many different ways, so many times with, between, and through so many different “micro-communities” and it seems a certain “breathing room” between communities defined by identity is needed, as well as some spaces/sites to come together, to organize “ourselves.”

Small social groups and friendship circles and love triangles and families also come together and disappear. These dynamics must be respected and considered as deeply as “big picture” political dynamics. PPL hopes to operate both as a self-isolating site, i.e. hosting specifically-oriented[4] projects and groups (identity-delineation performed as part of personal pathways, social configurations, ideological movements, and friendship circles, see “squad goals.”[5]) as well as intentionally “intersectionalizing” and “cultural organizing” projects. We exclude, however, projects which do not consider identity contexts or think that their work or an event can possibly be “for everyone.” We also specifically exclude white artists who do not consider racial contexts, cis male artists who do not consider gender contexts, and any artists who believe that their works can “transcend” socio-political contexts. In general, we rather decry any lack of specificity, art-for-art’s sake, (i.e. art for business’ sake), or any claim to objective truth or moral right.

At the moment, we are interested in how “intentionally intersectional” practices in art worlds and community activism are being abandoned or avoided for an array of reasons: isolationism and individualism, the need for new forms of dialogue[6] related to capitalism’s demand for swift, functional productivity, increasing need of BIPOC, trans, queer, and Muslim (as well as many other “Othered”) communities (what we each mean by “community” is a very good question) to self-protect, mistrust due to ongoing cycles of white supremacist betrayal and pop-up xenophobia, new self-rightousnesses as we develop language to describe and ultimately exclude-as-dysfunctional some formative aspects of our experiences (i.e. being triggered, recognizing micro-aggressions), favoring ease of communication and cultural comfort in home and intimate social contracts due to increased suffering, trauma and threat, etc.

How and why do we “come together” or “come undone”? How do different forms of connection and divestment “benefit” different persons and groups?

Not knowing who “we” are, in any sense outside of how “they” define us, no cohesive bodily seems to have experienced anything other than rage, fear, love, a heightening of extremes and a loss of the tips of our extremities as we slide off the ends of the ropes into deeptime chaos. On the other hand, we lean in and find bodies there, persons with very different experiences, ideas, ways of seeing and feeling, we hear voices and we speak too, in a graceful and multi-faceted (#tryeverything) swan-dive into that chaos. We are, many of us, moving, pushing, motivated together in similar directions, striving for something(s) in particular. Our hands, feelingly, find other hands, and grasp.[7] We can barely see who is who and how, we can only focus on the moment at hand, the presence within and without us, the breathing around us.

Unfortunately (and perhaps most fortunately), we have not experienced an increasing “objecthood” for PPL, no clearer visibility of any one communicable form for its “structures.” We know far less than we once hoped to figure out. It seems naïve now to carry some deep faith that “progressive” culture could prevail, that humans can or should learn how to live together in the same ways as each other.

Conscientious exclusion, self-sanctioning, and self-protection have become increasingly important, relegating “transparency” and “inclusivity” to the bottom of the dirty neo-liberal barrel of earnest concerns. We are no longer in a position (even if that position was always uneasy at best) to offer ‘resources’ to artists, and so any sense of universal desirability is lost; we are becoming afraid to advertise our presence at all. Our hopes of being a laboratory site where strong cultural practitioners can perform collective inquiries have been sincerely overwhelmed by the urgency of practicing any radical presence.

The conditions of our “eco-system” have significantly changed, at least the conditions of our “theaters of the future,” or the state in which we live due to what we think will happen next.

Within the imagination that we were striving to become more like a sustainable permacultural system, the edges between spheres and locations (e.g. the partial shade on the edge between forest and meadow) seemed the most vibrant and diverse, the most resilient, and fruitful. With the fantasy of increasing complexity and holistic self-knowledge in place, we moved towards edges, curious and excited to push the boundaries, explore the distances, balance precariously without fear.

Within an extractive and coercive system such as a factory farm or fascist state, however, the edges are sterile and dangerous (e.g electric fences, chemical wash-down facilities, loading docks), where the most mechanized and violent elements of the overall system are realized. We cannot balance for long between spheres, or between normative legitimacy (e.g. white supremacy, patriarchy, etc) and absolute ant-normalizing radicalization.

We are formulating yet, and this emergence of forms is still projected by a loss of faith in actionability, but a  “larger” frame is rather intersected by many differently-shaped mirrors, each reflecting its own iterative perspective(s) and possibilities.

Further, through experience with and in “playing out” of political fantasies as radicals, suspension of (dis)belief in singular narratives, searches for “appropriate responses,” and attempts to perform well-researched conclusions, our “internal” imaginations and musings, as to the shape we would like to take, the persons we would like to present, and so on, these “dreams” or “desires” have been usurped (at least some energy from our ability to believe in them sapped) and largely replaced by “external” considerations, i.e. defensive positions responsive to conditions of rising global fascism, biotic crises, and so on.

At the moment, it seems impossibly complex to correlate our willful re-formulation of an art project with movement through and across historic spacetime. We are significantly re-contextualized and unsure if we maintain the agency to re-condition our conditions at all.

HOWEVER, perhaps it is some form of longing or attachment that reinforces our promise to situate alternate culture, synthetic culture, intersectional and microcosmic, rhizomatic, conflictual and agonistic culture. We must be stupid, because we still think it may be possible to operate anti-racistly (honestly, non-whitely), queerly, post-capitalistically, post-colonialistically, (and other word-making-up-ly as necessary) as possible…

++++we assemble and ensemble to situate a culture of collaboration but also of mutual respect in dissidence and for difference++++

+++reciprocity, social safety, nurturance, self-sanctioning, comfort in confusion and responsibility within chaos, relational attention and context-specificity, somatic and embodied theoretical practice, process-based experimentation, testing, and attempt without demand for productive or functional outcome are but a few of the “politics of aesthetics” held and carried by those who might be considered “the community” of PPL assembling at 104 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, NY+++

+++competition has no place in art-making processes or in love+++

+++socio-ethical considerations hold primacy over capitalist values/valuation schemas, this is a universality we tentatively posit+++

+++we have a right to mediate and (en)culture ourselves+++

+++our ways of seeing are sensible in their own ways+++

+++we move, reaching out, towards liberation of the bodies and bodilies+++

CALLS for projects in 2017
Proposals should be in PDF form: please e-mail one single PDF containing links, tech needs, amount of time/duration for project, and some response to one or more paragraphs from the CALL CLUSTERS below to:

Deadlines for these calls are:
March 1, 2017 (notification by March 20 for April 10-July 31 use of the lab)
July 1, 2017 (notification by July 20 for September 1-December 15 use of the lab)
Experiments, other research-forms, workshops, theatrical and movement-driven performances, staged happenings, artificial environments (installations) and other types of fabricated situations, music, sound, noise, performance art/live art, social arts practices, collaborations, public debates, exhibitions, and many other types, modes, and forms of lab use are possible. Because this is a homespace, excessive rehearsals or extremely durational projects are difficult to handle. If you are wondering if PPL is a good fit with what you have in mind, want to discuss your ideas with us in person, or have any easier-to-answer logistic questions, please feel free to e-mail us.

CALL CLUSTER ONE: A synonym of “laboratory” is “imaginarium.”

1.) We do not reject or ignore our “concrete” (i.e. communicable, partially objectified, symbolized, practiced) ideology, our values, hypotheses, ethics, and/or any faith and/or hope we may maintain, as these are what give us agency and distinguish 1.) intentional construction of realities in attempts to see these “realized” from 2.) conditioned constructivity of realities, within righteous, coercive, and extractive attempts to totally “know” “The Real.” We must not fall into nihilism or righteousness, as the question how is “real?” would be thereby removed from our purview.  Laboratory situations aren’t fruitful for anyone who claims to totally know already, without a doubt, anything. We ask, how do you make appear(ances)? How are constructivities? What do you decide to materialize/situate/recognize, and why?

2.) Situations are materialized/realized not just via arrangement of “concrete” material elements and sentiences in spacetime. They are also cognitively, emotionally, and energetically situated via embodied performative processes of making matter. Some persons seek to perform presently and consciouslessly within such processes, while others practice states of conduit, transference, possession, séance, transformation, and transfixion.

3.) It would be a lie to imagine that any situation is totally “natural” (organic, open, preconditional) or totally “artificial” (built, intentional, constructed, conditioned). Rather, mediation(s), selections, exclusions/inclusions, and other formulating and situating processes are practiced, again, in multiplicit ways. How so? And why in such ways?

4.) It would be a lie also to imagine that once something is revealed it is never concealed (problematic: universal sight vs. mediation patterns) that our revelations are inherently transformative (problematic: the personal vs. the political), or that it is not possible to plan and design a positively-imagined future (problematic: dystopian vs. utopian imaginations).

5.) Theatrical and envisioning performance modes are crucial due to their distinguishing abilities and by their considerate blending of fact and fiction, fabrication and construction of reality, artificial intelligences and analytic(s) forms; live performances are inherently dealing with—at the very least—what is “a performance” and what is general performativity. The former—at the very least—has, does, or will informboth some “imaginative” and some “recognitive” capabilities.

CALL CLUSTER TWO: who is a person? How is “human?” How is “citizen?” Who is present, and how?

1.) It would be a lie to imagine that there is no “we” here making such statements; no matter how dangerous we find any universalizing statement; persons organize projects and persons hold, carry, and practice some familiar ways of seeing and doing.  For those of us who have lived most of our adult lives within and as part of such places (like PPL), each fire, each shut-down, each raid and mass shooting re-opens old wounds like scurvy. Without some legit Vitamin C, we can never heal.  AIDS, heroin and crack, suicide, mass incarceration, the military (and its promises to provide jobs, citizenship and education to extremely vulnerable persons as well as US imperialism and warfare), police brutality, hate crimes, and the raw horrors of urban and rural poverty have divided and ended any sense of “us” perhaps “as artists” or as “the undercommons” or as any cohesive “precariat” perhaps, that might rise up en masse against “the system’s” orders and disorders. They have broken us up and down. All that is left are persons. How are we critical of ourselves? How do our selves engage, resist, maintain resilience, connect and detach, empathize and judge?

2.) The simultaneous demand that humanity operate as cells of competitive individuals and the prevention of embodied impersonages from materializing “their own” realities is intimately related with capitalist totalitarianisms. Most simply, we are experiencing a twofold and interrelated divorce of persons from their agency/agencies:

2a.) the first is divestment from cultural groups, which can be (both) positive (i.e. whites divesting from whiteness) when practiced intentionally and extremely violent (i.e. total appropriation of “Blackness” as an identity-product owned and marketing by white capitalism) when systemically enforced. Agency is key here, understood positively perhaps as distanciation and self-reflection, while lack of agency in separation from cultural grouping (and agency to culturally-ensemble) divides and conquers groups like “the uneducated,” “women,” “intellectuals” and so on, which might be able to exert power in formation. How are we our own? Or not?

2b.) The second divorce of persons from their agency and agencies is a separation of sensation and perception from our object-natures, functions, and value as component parts of systems totally engineered by extractive and coercive forces of post-consensual capitalism. In other words: we are only seen to be “worth” our consumption, our products/as products, our labor, our attention, as these fuel some “grand system” (in)corporate destruction of our lives and of our planet. Nothing (no transportation or food system, no education system, no legal or governance system) is oriented around pleasure and suffering of living human beings, except for art (in its dangling aesthetics of politics). How are we something other than what we produce/consume?

3.) Collaborative, relational, and participatory performance modes are practicing through these complex problematics. While some artists remain stuck in testing their own agency (How far will my voice travel? How can I become famous and rich?) many others are (often very critically) investigating cultural formation and how are human ways of being? How shall I/we be humane? To be “humanist” and to be “human” is ever-becomingly complex.

CALL CLUSTER THREE: grand narratives

We claim that we continue to inquire against and as metabolic particles within “the system,” to know and be aware of its many modes of operation, its values, its supremacies, its biases, its tendancies, and its vulnerabilities to our attack.  By framing “it” as a singular, identifiable “it,” we also reinforce it as such. We perform the same processes of belonging (us) and exclusion (them) which allow “it” to emerge from our bodilies into something with a mind of its own, an autonomous, analytic/machine-generated reality in which total dystopia seems inevitable.

What drama, the surgical death-machine against bloody living nature, with humankind caught between, both operator(s) and organism upon which the machine operates.

We keep on re-telling and re-describing in such ways. This too, reproduces the reality in which this “paradigm” or “it system” (capitalism, the anthropic death-drive of the knowledge-constructing ape, white supremacy and ur-fascism, kyriarchy, extractivism, whatever you want to call it) exists.

The “best” performance artists, we declare, are those who materialize alternate narratives and senses of sense, anti-normalizing this “david and goliath” garbage, this “master and slave” garbage, this “wealth=value” garbage.

We have learned, to our horror, that when the stakes go up, the complexity gets reduced. Objects of fact are as fragile and useless as Faberge eggs, easily forged, easily sold. This is indeed one of many “banalities of evil.”
1.) from “within” or “without”? Incorporate of antibodies or divestment from the bodilies?
2.) how is “the big picture” related to our daily habitus?
3.) How do we narrativise, interpret, frame, and project our visions of what is happening now and, deontically, what we would like to/should do?

[1] This text will vacillate between different “we” and “I” perspectives. One “we” is multiply-identified Esther, the writer of this text, and Brian McCorkle, the editor of it, respectively. A more problemative “we” is the collective and various residents and artists using the space and participating directly to its existence. “We” is always a fraught perspective, we try to acknowledge the extreme subjectivity of any written statement (duh, someone has to be writing it) without claiming ownership of community-generated ideation. Any “I” is Esther, owning up to selfhood.
[2] see Affaction Research Center
[3] see Emily Gastineau and Billy Mulaney (Fire Drill), Consequences have consequences
[4] i.e. work dealing directly with personal experience in relationship with systemic racism, xenophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc.
[5] see the work of Ayana Evans
[6] see the work of Dominique DuRoseau

Friday, 1/6, 8p: individual performances at Panoply Performance Laboratory in Brooklyn.
Saturday, 1/7, 8p: collaborative performances (by car) at Palanzos Beer in Pittsburgh.
Sunday 1/8, 6p: Join us at 6p for an open discussion on the politics of touring in a post-fossil fuel/post-trump America. 8p: Individual performances at Palanzos Beer in Pittsburgh.

Ten artists, five per car. Small bundles of supplies and some instruments. What did you forget to bring that you can retrieve where you are now? Vehicles, metaphors, motives, motion, bodies inside bodies. How long does the trip take when you’re hungry? Taco Bell or Pizza Hut? From where to where? How long does the trip take? Until, I mean, wait, how long does the trip take when you swallow until you can’t? Have you been here before? Have you gone the distance? This is the middle of the road. This is the lane. Try not to break down in the tunnel. Bridge between something and something. This is my house. No spitting in the car.

A 3 day performance event between brooklyn, pittsburgh, and many a flying J and rest area en route, featuring:

Jill Flanagan (Forced into Femininity) : Isn’t it just like a woman to be mischevious, impetuos and impulsive, to want the freedom to what she likes? And isn’t it like a woman to be mysterious, impenetrable, to have depths in which we plunge in vain in search of some lost part of ourselves? Jill Flanagan thinks so, and she’s here to spread her twisted hysterical ideology with a little soft shoe routine and some jazz standards.

Valerie Kuehne : accross the country, dopamine filling stations are popping up like deerticks. Watch your childhood melt in front of your eyes and change your perception in the warmth of a truck stop bathroom. There is no way to prepare yourself for what is happening right now.

Brian McCorkle is the co-director of Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL) with Esther Neff. Originally from Detroit, McCorkle is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, digitial artist, and maker of damn fine broths and sauces. His solo work has involved aluminum foil, vasaline, analog devices, and bird cages. He is the proud parent and primary mechanic of one of this project’s vehicles.

David Ian Bellows/Griess is a sculptor, video maker, sporadic disseminator, retired performance art/shadowy denizen.

Esther Neff is the co-director of Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL) with Brian McCorkle. She likes tubes and theory and clay. She hails from a celery bog and often accidentally breaks the small bones of her extremeties while performing some inquiries into natures for natures which appear temporarily like mold on the walls of the shower.,

Kaia Gilje is a defender of the most vulnerable patterns, roughly handling and tenderly padding when futures abruptly end in a growl. She has made nests, looms, arrangements, decisions, and actions in many different locations.

Adriana Disman is a performance art maker, thinker, and curator based in Toronto and Montreal.

Ali Asgar is a visual and performance artist from Bangladesh. Ali is working as a freelance artist for last few years in Bangladesh and moving forward with his work concentrated on the issue of gender minority and queer identity. Through his performances and other visual narratives Ali is constantly trying to pushing the gender norms of the country and making spaces to talk about this issues in a public forum.

Spitline is a multidisciplinary performance art duo that creates experiences that fully immerse audiences in real life scenarios.

Thousandzz of Beez :

A 5-15$ donation will be collected at each event for the participating artists.

Nine months ago we swore of this blog in attempts to cut out internet time. In the meantime, we spent that cut-out internet time organizing and mobilizing at the laboratory in Brooklyn and elsewhere, touring, collaborating, writing, making work, supporting the work of others, and practicing drums.

stuff on/around the door has accumulated/changed:


many events, meetings, thinktank sessions, collective gatherings, and collaboration sessions have been situated



and PPL have been up to the usual anti-business

we hereby continue this blog now, partly because our website is having relationship issues. We find, via this lame hobbling from platform to platform, from server to server, that we are not “cutting edge,” that we are rather laboriously and often embarrassingly investigating edges.


Hi there…due to shifting online, inline transline, and non-linear realities, PPL will no longer maintain this wordpress blog…it will remain here until overrun and decomposted into the necrological intersubjective networks of the inter.

Please find us on our website:
or via a tumblr of mostly images: pplindex
Upcoming at PPL space

Esther:, agit-apropos, thefenserf (where some articles from this blog now live)

Email us:

Happy 10 years of PPL in nyc! next 10 yrs forthcoming…

Applications Due: January 11

February 18, 2016
April 14, 2016
May 19, 2016

PERFORMANCY FORUM is an ongoing and ever-shifting platform for performance theory as practice and vice versa. Monthly one-night exhibitions are the foundation of PF, usually taking place on second or third Thursdays at PPL Space in Brooklyn, NY.

Conceptual cores for each event will be devised around the practices of the involved artists. Participation in organization and structuring of each event over e-mail and in person will be emphasized this season, under the overarching title for Spring 2015, IN FORMATION.

To participate, send a proposal for a performance or other performative activity that could be realized on or across these three Thursday evening at PPL Space in conjunction with projects by 3-4 other artists.

–What date(s) you could do (see list above)
–A text or video or some kind of “information” about what you are doing.
–What form a performance, presentation, or other type of public interface would take (i.e. duration, tech needs, spatial considerations, anything else you anticipate as considerations for organizing).
–Online links or bio or some kind of contextual “information”
–What interests you about participating in PERFORMANCY FORUM (optional)

E-mail such things to: Esther at

$: PPL Space is the home and studio of PPL the collective and is rented via the day jobs of the residents. PF is currently unfunded but all donations at the door go to the artists. If you absolutely need financial assistance to travel to NYC or for materials, please let us know what you would consider a fair artist fee/budget amount and if no funding is prohibitive for you. We are considering doing a crowdfunding campaign to pay artists this season and welcome community input on this issue! #: Please and to view past events and see images of the space, see past conceptual cores, etc if you have never experienced any PF events. Floorplan is available on request.
*: We welcome any questions you may have as you make up a proposal.

Liberation Economics as Performance Art-Life

(Song of Capitulation. Adapted by PPL from John Willet’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, music composed and sung by Brian McCorkle with Nick Joseph.)


There are plenty of articles about the lies that educational institutions are telling art students about making “a living.” Artists with MFAs complain about debt, research projects (artistic, institutional, and otherwise) display pie charts and demand bigger pieces of it. Not-for-profits offer “business of art” training for a fee, artists are taught to consider themselves entrepreneurs. Performance art, when it considers itself an “art form” like any other plastic arts discipline, spends community time and energy on panel discussions framing commodification as advocacy. Others bemoan commercialization. How are we to sell our work? How are we to make this living work?

How are we to “make living” is a good question, the question “what is the good life” is ethically, ideologically, and practically answered to in waves, movements, missions and media across most human performativity that can be called “culture.”

In euro-centric contexts of academia, so they say, after post-structuralism and post-post-internet, beyond speculative realism and plateaus of authenticity, there is wholesale capitulation to capitalism in answers to the how, if not to the why, we are able to make our lives “work.” Work, works, and exchange of labor-hours, ideas, artworks, and other objectified products/productivities comprise all individual and social performance according to even the most vehement anti-capitalist conceptualizations of the socialist, communist, or democratic; we understand capitalism as physically, cognitively, emotionally post-consensual, beyond our control. We feel that we no longer have the ability or the burden to make our own lives, we must whip/work it.

When life is seen not as something to be made[1] by persons experiencing/performing it, but rather as a “natural” product of systems so much stronger and more ingrained than can possibly be changed, we capitulate our body-minds themselves as a matter of conscious and unconscious rationalization of capitalism.

I choose the word capitulation carefully, not just in reference to Dialectical-Marxist Bertolt Brecht but also because of its economic definition and usage:

Investors are said to “capitulate” when they suddenly and radically sell off stocks or other assets in judgment that current risks and liabilities outweigh any future gain or interests. Capitulation is not only a rationally calculated as escape from financial danger, it is also an emotional response, induced by panic or “cold feet.” Through this term, we acknowledge that capitalism is emotionally and psychologically reinforced as much as it auto-poetically makes our everything; human sensations and perceptions determine ability/disability to work functionally/successfully, at least.

Capitulation, though often seen as an “irrational” behavior, does mediate the internal patterning of local and global economies, just as a single artist “selling out” can generate interpersonal and cultural effects ranging from resentment amongst friends through pop culture’s ability to assimilate subcultural aesthetics and rhetoric.

Additionally, wherever there is capitulation, is the possibility of failure/refusal to capitulate. There are perhaps only two consequences of this negational performance whether it is intended or not: 1.)bankruptcy or severe devastation (lost gamble) 2.) re-formation of value-assignment/gain of greater value (won gamble). Within trade economies, capitulative gambles can result in loss of money and other equities, just as capitulative gambles such as trading 40 hours a week for $12.95/hr can cause loss of pleasurability in lived experiences. In terms of the second consequence—reformation of value-assignments—capitalism and its economies constantly work against the possibility of this consequentiality; capitalism is most threatened by any re-assignment of forms of value. It is, in short, threatened by “values” that drive human action outside of existing markets without that market’s consent; while capitalist values remain locked within metaphysical conceptualizations of capital evaluation as such, evaluation of something like “risk” can be[2] contingent on/moved by valuation as a performative process.


Art, even though it is largely defined by “normative economies” of attentions and markets, has conceptually embedded within its self-conception[3] the perception that value is subjective and that risks are worthwhile in and of themselves, or at least subjected to evaluation empirically.[4] Some artists are thus permitted (no matter how naively) to, as persons and communities, make “decisions” about whether or not to capitulate.

Here in Brooklyn NY in 2015, most artists desire and plan to participate in free market economies, be these “creative class,” “artworld” “academic” or otherwise. Their assets and interests include recognition, money, visibility, power, which they accumulate and trade through recommended mutual investment-schemas. These artists are deferential, concessionary, accomplice, happy to “have the opportunity” to even participate in “art industries” as capitulant within global economies.

While it is unthinkable (perhaps literally) to artists-as-such that they should do anything other than make works and accumulate capital/assets, such modes of ascquescient behavior is not capitulation in the sense of a sudden sell-out induced by panic. Most “middle-class” investors and “professional” artists never even have the choice of capitulation because they do not take risks or gambles in the first place (conceptually, formally) and rarely have enough capital (authority, sense-distribution-ability) for it to be threatened with loss. These artists don’t take risks because they operate in fear of extreme poverty (and possibly imprisonment, or other physical discomfort) even though/because they have usually never experienced it. It is most likely that their capitulation would be a caused by a lowering of their “quality of life” below a certain threshold, prompting their capitulation to a more mainstream life-style “outside of art.” Here, “soft” capitulation is an irrelevant slither away into management of a commercial gallery, grad school, or a “regular” job.

There are some artists, on the other hand, who do not desire or plan to participate in free market arts economies in “safe” participatory ways, or at all. Our lives involve deliberate construction of the decision “to capitulate or not;”

We construct situations in which we choose not to wherein current risks and liabilities do not outweigh any anticipated future gain or interests. We construct situations in which we choose to capitulate when there is a possibility to re-form values and forms of valuation themselves, i.e. we trade away that which we want to lose value, thereby reforming valuation schemas themselves around intended losses and assignment of other schemas to asset-values themselves. We forcefully fabricate choice where there is none, perpetrating artistic practice as an area of free action and value-form subversion.

The former choice to not capitulate is fairly easy to explain and construct; we self-organize in context as parallax/autonomous ideologues and zealots who are psychotically willing to risk everything dominantly perceived-as-valuable. Future gain (towards whatever idealistic agenda) and fulfillment of interests (in whatever impossible future utopian situation) are worth far more to us than any immediate loss of assets or safety. More simply, we do not find the threat of homelessness, being ignored, having bedbugs, never being able to have kids, going to bed hungry, being stuck in one place, etc as enough of a loss to justify a sell-out. We operate in states of romantic delusion, political rage, and though we may panic constantly, we still refuse to sell our bodies or our minds into valuation schemas bent on de-valuing bodies into identity-objects, homogenizing conceptualizations, and capitalizing-upon our very processes of moving, thinking, feeling, being. We do not objectify ourselves or our “workings” into asset-products at all, we grit our teeth and keep intentionally performing in time-space, directly real-izing our values/valuations.

The latter choice, to capitulate towards re-formation of value-schemas, is more complicated to construct, and can easily become a sort of “but I’ll change things from the inside!” kind of selling-out if existing constructed systems (such as institutions, non-profits, etc) are depended upon to facilitate/support activity. In an economic sense, however, here is where we intentionally and specifically “sell ourselves short” as a way of removing and re-assigning value across forms (our own and those needed by capitalist systemics). Here, we may, for example, be choosing to work as unbranded anonymous collectives by trading off individualism. We may make uncommodifiable work that trades long periods of time (high equity risk) in exchange for the initiation of low prices on the traded-off stocks. We may demand to work for free when others are being paid. We attempt to cause something like a “run on the bank” or a “confused frenzy” that crashes it all. We make-up buzzwords and hashtags, infecting capitalist visions of what art should and does “look like,” who should and does make it, and so on. Personally, I find the most extreme forms of capitulation working most powerfully as a giving up of stakes and as directly work against our own “best interests.” We may find ourselves intentionally making “bad/unstylish art,” or giving up the claim that we are artists at all, rather “amateurs” or “cultural organizers” other value-less persons. We do not apply for grants or have an elevator pitch. We do not have a “bio.” We capitulate our “roles” as “cultural producers,” rather we give away our work for free, selling out the paradigms themselves into confusion and an un-grounding of capitalist valuations/values.

A liberation economy values and maintains such capitulations and non-capitulations, despite capitalism’s insistence that such choices themselves are neither possible nor desirable.

Performance art communities in Brooklyn, as a “micro-undercommons”[5] identified by participants’ traditional resistance to commerciality and as a gatherings magnetized by shared experiences and needs, designs and carries with its modes of action and production themselves such ability to “make decisions about how to live.” This ability exists in very concrete mutual support performed between human beings through their self-determinate and “irrational” makings-of-lives. Further, as auto-poetically-framed “free action” in the economic sense, we position our performance art-life as non-valuable, as alter-assessment, as actual “sub-version” that fevers forth as an “subtext” “multiverse” or “counter habitus” to capitalist ways of living, thinking, and feeling.

“Privileges,” as “individually held assets” are not welcome here, processes of organization themselves seek to repurpose and deconstruct these, in non-correlative parallel to capitalism’s systemic maintainance its own construction. Through conflation of performance-of-life and performance-as-art we merge the investor and the investment, replacing the systems with persons, using risk-taking and fears of failure to motivate large-scale de-liberations of capitalist calculations of personal worth and enculturations of “worthwhile cost-paradigms” for (loss of) human lives.

As performers of liberation economics, we embody how and why we value our own lives and those of other human beings, not as workers, victims, or as cells in a metabolism so virally infected that our species-being has become un-re-cognizable, but as temporary locations of infinitely complex perceptions, sensations, and as carriers of the very forces of terror and panic that can destroy investment-schemas by positioning decisions. The liberation economy performs its own terrible, frightening freedom: we are not subjects but poltergeists.[6]


The two following sections involve some statements. Alignments/recognitions may be personally possible, but it is unlikely that any of us agree with all of them, I merely use “we” because I personally can’t/don’t perform all of these constructivities all of the time simultaneously, I can only identify/gather/write them as some ways in which I perceive liberation economics being performed in and around and as my (personal-as-political) life in/for performance art.

How do we concretely perform anti-capitulation in construction of liberation economics?

First, we are valuing time over money and refusing to be threatened by loss of everything, via re-framing of what “everything” is.[7] The experience-state of “performing free action/thought/feeling” is of deep value to us, as is work towards the health of our bodies and our planet, and realization of intentionally-constructed situations freely sharing/open-sourcing energies, bodilies, and socialities.

We value volunteer/unpaid labor and do not schedule/take “gigs” based on payment or “reputation” within economies of capital-value-based attention. We do not perform for audiences of only wealthy people, become or pander to people with high levels of privilege, we do not accept golden-tickets; we are not court jesters at private parties or artworld galas, we are not entertainers who perform material(ization) on cue.

We do not seek “the broadest audience possible,” instead relating personally to participating witnesses, passers-by, and co-performers. We seek non-normativity of situation and substantiation, evading expectations for when, where, and how “art” should occur.

We work other jobs for money and do not allow our artistic processes to be influenced/formed into capitalist modes of production by the timelines or framing devices of commercial spaces and institutional structures and their funding cycles. If we do accept money, it comes as voluntary resource re-distribution; any and all payments of money must be voluntary and no experience is “worth” a certain amount in money. Where a 20-minute action might make sense for the $50 artist fee, we may perform instead for 7 hours. We spend time sewing, sculpting, planning, testing, preparing, meeting, because it is the cultural constructivity that matters, not production of valuable commodities. We often perform for free, in public.

We make, spend, and pay as little actual money as possible, living as low-footprint as possible despite the threat that the suffering will kill us.[8] Our efforts here are often interpersonal; we seek to relieve one another’s’ panic and the “cold feet” that causes capitulation on the largest scale to participatory capitalist paradigms by creating community of resistance and a dialogic of relational determination.

How do we concretely perform and assist only constructive/re-formative capitulation?

We do not compete, we collaborate, relieving emotional and psychological pressure and dialogically developing capitulative processes as intentional art-formations.

Intentions, ideologies, ethics, and values are considered resources, not as competing mutually-exclusive models for “objectively good” living. We do not force our ideas on others, we situate the formal activations of ideations and engage interpersonally with any interested participants. We recognize that capitulations can be performed positively, as (panicky) trade-in of high-risk participation in capitalism as so-called “future gain” becomes increasingly experienced as progressive destruction of selves, natures, and societies.

We affirm and critically evaluate processes and practices of other bodies, even when we may not precisely share experiences or even have the ability to communicate; we ignore “works” as products to focus on persons and our relationships and acts as systemic re-conditionings of who “we” are together. We respond to the processes of others in conversation, writing, and enthusiastic reactivity, embodying the affects and consequences of processes intended/recommended. We perform respect for the ways valuations are performed by others and allow our own “assets” to be re/de-valued. We remain open to perspectives, sensations, ideations, and reformations that are not generated solely by our own “selves,” instead operating as colluders within value-driven larger-scale movements, our “social body” reaching beyond our subjective horizons and needs.

We give our time, manual labor, resources, assistance, and attention when we value how performative processes are making life something we want to be temporarily a part of: we are capitulating our own freedom into the service of the freedom of others, without any expectation of personal gain.

We also fail to make “art” as such. We lose, break, destroy, and give away art, re-valuing commitments and forms of action. We make anti-art, we protest art, we surrender our claim to authority as artists or academics, we make irrational claims and say stupid shit. We act up, in transgression and also as emotional outletting, capitulating to our emotions and allowing them to drive us.

Further, we construct the possibility to capitulate (a problem when we are seen as having no “assets” as such to risk) by emphasizing the value of things not valued by capitalism, such as ideas, bodies, weakness, vulnerability, and mistakes. We offer capitulations as reformations to those who are not offered any assets by white supremacist patriarchal norm-reinforcing capitalism, inserting our bodies into situations where we don’t “belong” and disrupting paths of least resistance, polluting asset-streams with non-valuable assets, selling “junk stocks” and intentionally flooding markets with explosively dangerous dysfunctional products. We take up class-action suit against forms of economy themselves, selling cheap and fast in attack of asset-natures themselves.


The concrete consequences of maintaining such choices to capitulate or not capitulate are lived as performance of life-as-performance arts and carried by our bodies through time-space. Such concrete consequences may be made visible, or seen as, performance art.

–Esther Neff

[1] Perhaps via processes similar to how “meanings” or “personas” are seen to be made, or “constructed.”

[2] Digitalization and algorthimicization of such processes are demanded by capitalism for financial performances intentionally participating in capital accumulation/condensation.

[3] Art is that which defines itself as art, so says Antonio Gramsci

[4] Further, we superficially frame “selling out” as a betrayal of subcultural economics, a use of smaller fish as bait for the sharks. Here, we echo earlier conceptions of an “us vs. them” paradigm, before capitalism ensconced all, and Others worked to involve their visions and include their bodies (then), rather than to subvert and subalternate at any cost (now).

[5] See Fred Moten

[6] See Achille Mbembe

[7] often by refusing positivist ontological and epistemic dialectics in favor of sensibilities.

[8] some may perform this “destitution” intentionally, for many of us, it has never been an option to have money, we have never experienced it and have no intention to experience it. Teeth rot, the actual pain of the tooth falling out vs. it being drilled out by a dentist is negligible, the drugs are the difference.

NOTE: I use the term “liberation economics” as a kind of satirical position, playing with connotations of historic “liberation theologies” and radicalizations of humanist neo-liberalism. If you google the term, you can find many more crackpots like me “inventing” the term.


Saturday, July 25
7:30pm-11pm Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle at Gowanus Ballroom during the opening for Borrowed Paths, Broken Rules.

Tuesday, August 18
7:30-8:30 at Dixon Place
1.) fill out the survey:
2.) experience presentation of you, performed by PPL ensemble Ellen O’Meara, Valerie Kuehne, Matthew Gantt, AnaÏs Maviel, Cory Bracken, Brian McCorkle, and Esther Neff at Dixon Place:

Saturday, August 22
all day! Visit here for details:
TIME BODY SPACE OBJECTS, SPECTACLE ISLAND, MA – Part 4, as part of the Isles Art Initiative 2015 curated by Alice Vogler and Vela Phelan.

Time to have some serious discussion about what and how to do…

(photo by Paul Waters North)


In other news…
Esther’s initiation essay for Embarrassed of the Whole was just published on The Experimental Music Yearbook. It is here:
PPL the space will be closed in August with the exception of Valerie Kuehne’s Trauma Salon on August 27.