Performance Research Journal Vol. 22, No. 4: ‘ON PROXIMITY’


Performance Research Journal Vol. 22, No. 4: ‘ON PROXIMITY’ (June 2017)
CFP Deadline: 2 December 2016

Co-editors: Louise Owen & Ben Cranfield (Birkbeck College, University of London)

‘On Proximity’ represents a response to and a departure from current preoccupations with vocabularies and techniques of immersive experience – a scene of experimentation now celebrated to the point of normalization in contemporary theatre, visual art and exhibition culture. The mere mention of the term ‘immersive’ holds out the promise of close, perhaps interactive relationships between artistic work and its audiences, and implicitly proposes sensation, tactility and physical engagement. In other words, immersivity promises greater proximity to the material stuff of art, and perhaps between fellow audience members. But what are the politics, possibilities and problems of such an eradication of distance? What other forms of proximity exist within contemporary and historic examples of cultural experience?

‘On Proximity’ does not seek to define, theorise or critique immersive experience – important and valuable work that has already been done elsewhere (most recently Alston 2016, Machon 2015, Mitra 2016). Instead, it uses the provocation of the ubiquity of the immersive to rethink cultural practices in terms of historical, conceptual and technological understandings of proximity. The relationship between art and audience, in both curatorial and theatrical spheres, has been approached frequently in terms of discourses of objecthood, participation and engagement, and the work of Jacques Rancière and others has stimulated extensive debate in the fields of contemporary art, theatre and performance concerning critical distance and spectatorship. Taking ‘proximity’ rather than ‘participation’ as the primary critical lens allows us to consider the ways in which cultural practices and artworks conjure and delimit certain kinds of material positioning. It enables exploration of the particular types of closeness and distance that these positionings create – whether in terms of historically, economically and spatially situated gatherings of bodies, the interrelationship of objects in a canon, or the dramaturgies of different modes of address. The lens of proximity helps us to think with and beyond more dominant critical approaches – and also to stage new dialogues between different practices and contexts.

For ‘On Proximity’, we are interested in receiving proposals for written papers and artists’ pages that explore:

• The politics of proximity and closeness within in the formation of public and private space
• The role of distance and closeness within networks and other arrangements of human and non-human actors
• The interrelation and combination of different scales (spatial, temporal, historical) within cultural practice
• Practices that interrupt, challenge or intervene in conventions of proximity
• Affective registers of distance and closeness
• The proximity of different media within the production of cultural experience

We welcome contributions in the form of 4,000 word research papers and artist pages, consisting of up to 1,500 words plus images.

Proposals: Friday 2 December 2016
1st drafts: Friday 3 February 2017
2nd drafts: Friday 31 March 2017
Publication: June 2017

All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to the Journal at:

Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors: ,

General Guidelines for Submissions:
• Before submitting a proposal we encourage you to visit our website ( and familiarize yourself with the journal.
• Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or RTF). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side (two A4 sides in the case of dual proposals).
• Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.
• If you intend to send images electronically, please contact the Journal first to arrange prior agreement.
• Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
• If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.