- Performance and the Global City ed. by D.J. Hopkins and Kim Solga
In Performance and the Global City, editors D.J. Hopkins and Kim Solga offer an exhilarating contribution to performance studies, urban studies, and the ever-urgent interrogation of “the global.” The collection extends the work of Performance and the City (2009), edited by Hopkins, Solga, and Shelley Orr. The previous collection sought to apprehend the (at the time) new fact that over 50 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. The new collection has moved forward to grapple with the “risk- and potential-laden” sites of the global city as formed by the intersections of neoliberal capital, forced and autonomous mobilities, and quotidian negotiations of space and place (3). The editors curate a range of authors, sites, and methodologies intent on dislodging the hemispheric prioritization of northern and western cities as default locations for examinations of the global and the urban. Simultaneously, the collection prioritizes borders: of the nation-state, between and within cities, across the Atlantic, within a mega-region, or inside a single kilometer. Hopkins and Solga extend Harvey Young and Ramón H. Rivera-Servera’s (2011) articulation of the border as a lived site of violence and possibility, of constriction and becoming. The collection offers significant contributions to performance studies methodologies, including artist-scholar collaborative writing, personal accounts operating as critical theoretical sources, and rigorously interdisciplinary engagements with space and place.
The collection is divided into three sections of four essays each. Section one, “Mobilities and In/Civilities: Global Urban Borderlands,” focuses on borders. Jean Graham-Jones examines how the 2008 La Plata opening of the revival of Eva, el gran musical argentino destabilized the presumed primacy of Buenos Aires in local, hemispheric, and international conceptualizations of gender, history, and political and cultural identity. Susan Bennett and Loren Kruger challenge the Western and Northern centrism endemic to discussions and discourses of the global city. Bennett discusses how Shanghai performs itself and the West in order to produce its own global identity, despite and alongside persistent global Orientalist representations of China. Kruger’s [End Page 177] dynamic exploration of performative acts and collaborations between art and urban planning in the inner city of postapartheid Johannesburg offers a nuanced theorization of a Southern global urban center’s “tentative return to civility” (20). The final essay of the section, cowritten by Kim Solga and Jennifer H. Capraru, details the production processes in Kigali (2008), on tour in Rwanda (2008 onwards) and in Toronto (2010) of the Kinyarwanda-language production of The Monument, written by Canadian Colleen Wagner and translated by Wajdi Mouawad. Solga and Capraru offer an exemplary model of a “relational comparative approach to global urban studies” (43). In describing and theorizing key moments within the rehearsal and performance processes in Rwanda and Canada, the authors also track how performance reveals intersections of violence, access, and representation as enacted between the South and the North.
In section two, “Transacting Bodies/Embodied Currencies: Subjects and Cities,” two essays focus on tourism and two on commuting. Nicolas Whybrow reflects on undergraduate study-abroad pedagogy. He describes how his students intervened in narratives of Venice (sinking city, global economic development, local displacement) through performative acts of tourism. Jason Bush, in turn, offers a critical reconceptualization of the relationship between tourism and agency. Bush argues that, although the Peruvian Scissors Dance has been highly commodified for global consumption, the performers—through the act of touring—self-actualize global indigenous agency. Simon Jones and Paul Rae recount the process of creating, performing, and adapting two “ambulant audio performances” (140) about commuting, one by a UK-based company and one by a Singapore company. Confronted with the excesses of unscripted action characteristic of interactive, immersive, and site specific performance, the authors reflect on how the pieces’ original goals gave way to improvisational interactions, not only between actors, script, and spectators, but also with mobility itself, destabilizing the assumptions of monotony, habit, and surprise that...