This paper is an attempt to think further about a notion I recently coined syncopolitics (Dalmasso and Jamet, 2017). This term points not so much to the syncope as spasm, convulsion or even collapse of political representation, but to the very conception of politics as syncope. Catherine Clément paves the way in her book Syncope: the Philosophy of Rapture (1994) by urging her readers to take time to experience and think the in-between, the time lag, the “radical surprise [where] one remains syncopated.”(Clément 1994, 125) Syncopolitics calls thus for a rupture, a fracturing of thought. However my thinking is first and foremost framed by an image, or rather by the recess of an image – “an image that must be unimagined, that is, thought, if thought is considered a commotion, a syncope, and a bedazzlement.”(Nancy, 2005, 79)
This recess of the image, I consider as a condition for thinking politics.I start with Ville de Calais, a series of photographs by Henk Wildschut to address the unpresentable and how the syncope of the image can inform the transitory nature of thought. I then turn to Clément’s definition of the syncope as a flight from “an unbearable collection of belongings to” (Clément 1994: 251) and my recent contribution as a EU citizen-artist to Instant Dissidence’s walk performance ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA in response to the suffocating UK Home Office’s hostile environment in order to reflect upon the inherent theatricality of the syncope as an act of fleeing and upon exile as a mode of thought.
Fred Dalmasso (Loughborough University) is a researcher and practitioner interested in the interaction between performance, philosophy and politics. His most recent publications include a co-edited book entitled Syncope in Performing and Visual Arts (Via Artis), a chapter on the militant image in Performing Antagonism (Palgrave Macmillan) and an article on Alain Badiou’s ethics of play in Performance Philosophy journal. He is currently writing a monograph on Badiou’s theatre and working on sound-installation and performance projects aiming to propose collective unimaginings of citizenship.