Nathalie S. Fari
Photo: Daniel Schaefer

Situated Agencies: an embodied and documentary approach to site-oriented performance practice

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Academy of Music and Drama

Short description

Dissertation by Nathalie S. Fari.
I am a performance artist and teacher working across the fields of performative arts, artistic research and somatic education. For over 30 years, I have been exploring several movement practices, from dance (modern jazz, Butoh) to acrobatics, to improvisation, to yoga (I am certified in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system) and lately conscious dance (5 Rhythms). Additionally, I have been focusing over the last 7 years, on the research design of performance laboratories based on the notions of embodiment, site-specificity and performativity. (

This PhD project explores the relationship between embodiment and site-specificity through a documentary perspective. By looking at how a specific place can be embodied, it engages with human, non-human and more-than-human forms of agency. In this process, not only multiple layers of a place - its historical connotation, social meaning or cultural value and so forth - are uncovered. A special emphasis is given on excavating and documenting the imperceptible, imaginary or even, hidden narratives of a place. 

How can such narratives be mediated and/or translated into a performative language? Which types of artistic strategies and/or technological devices are needed in this process, especially in times of an increasing surveillance? And how to use documentation not only as source for generating any records, but also as a dramaturgical (or compositional) tool?

In this PhD project, these questions serve as basis for developing a series of site-oriented performance laboratories. Using approaches from embodied research, sensory ethnography, posthumanism and documentary art, the main aim of these laboratories is to create new linkages between the body, the place and the camera. In so doing, not only a variety of psychophysical exercises are employed for creating a both bodily and environmental awareness. Besides that, these laboratories experiment with the ways in which so-called performing documents come into being. The claim that through expanding and/or shifting the historical (or truthful) meanings of such documents, new forms of narrativization and agency might arise, appears here as an approach to site-oriented performance practice.

As a consequence, this PhD interweaves essayistic writing with audio-visuality, bodily traces with reenactments, documented performances with fiction. All at the same time, with and through the body.