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Sunday March 17 | Session 10:45 - 12:15 (20 min)
De Brakke Grond | Rode Zaal
“as an artist, I learned from both East (socialism) and West (capitalism)”
Mladen Stilinović

One of the most widely circulated images of the Romanian revolution of December 1989 is of the last public appearance of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, from the balcony of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the former Central Committee headquarters in Bucharest, overlooking Revolution Square. This image is indexical of a particular discontinuity of political regime, between the socialism that was said to crumble, and the capitalism which promised to follow. In an alternative taxonomy, the balcony is revealed as a prominent architectural feature of the socialist and post-socialist regimes, a particularly liminal space in the bloc economy that altered urban politic. In theatre and performance, the balcony is attached to modes and classes of spectating.

In 2017, artist Dan Perjovschi began to collect images of bloc balconies, mostly from across Eastern Europe, in an ongoing open-source archive: images of women perched on the edges of balconies attached to crumbling buildings, animals perched on balconies, balconies with hanging plants and missing floors, balconies that fail to wrap around buildings, balconies secured with cables and those with sophisticated insulation.  These balconies perform a distinct poetics of political discontinuity: they are a staple of socialist architecture, performing its institutionalisation in the urban landscape; but they are also a curious, non-aligned territory, literally displaced, neither inside/outside, fully walled or open-bordered.

In this performance lecture, I think about the balcony as constitutive of a poetics of discontinuity that is revealing, in the ways in which it collapses categories of movement and stillness, East and West, individual and collective, occupation and resistance. Thinking with Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Margaret Moore and Hannah Arendt,  and their explorations of geontopower, territory and the legislation of moving bodies across borders, I ask: how might we conceive of the balcony as an altered state, intervening into both cultural and political narratives of Eastern Europeann-ess and political discontinuity?

Diana Damian Martin is a writer and researcher working in performance and live art. She is editor of (states of) wake: Dedicating Performance (2018) and On Time: A SPILL Reader (2018), and co-hosts Critical Interruptions with Bojana Janković, as well as Something Other and The Department of Feminist Conversations with Mary Paterson and Maddy Costa, inter-related projects that think politically about performance and performatively about politics. Diana is a member of Generative Constraints Committee and Writingshop. Her academic work has been published in Global Performance Studies, Performance Research, Contemporary Theatre Review and Journal for Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. She works as a Lecturer in Performance Arts at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  
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