Aesthetic Negotiations of Identity – Between Embodied and Disembodied Performance



The study focuses on the aesthetic and ethical relevance of the hybrid nature of a few multimedia artworks, taking Klaus Obermaier’s performances as significant self-reflexive and also trans-artistic processes. The visual, musical, choreographic, and simultaneously digital and corporeal “stories” displayed by these artworks contain an ongoing deconstruction and reconstruction of performer’s own artistic identity in-between fictional worlds, media, bodies. At the same time, by equally exposing a radical – sometimes trans-human – alterity, the performances call for a critical rethinking of a few aesthetic categories and of rigid theoretical dichotomies. Plus, the embodied and alternatively dis-embodied performances could be analyzed as an enactment of a “chaosmic” production of subjectivity (to use a formula of Guattari’s) and thus they reveal a live matrix of artistic creativity. Finally, such hybrid artworks are revealing for the ontological condition of non-captive spectators, namely those challenged to have an agency when confronted with the artistic process. The ethical value of the intermedia performance sometimes resides in the spectator’s possibility to opt, to express choices regarding the different layers of meaning, as these are embodied on stage. This is not a matter of effectively performing an option through some actual physical intervention in the stage area. It is instead an aesthetic and critical option and one pertaining to the ontology of art and to the spectator’s own paradoxical, “hypermediated” status.

Keywords: creative (dis)embodiment, hybrid multimedia performance, aesthetico-ethical option, a new ekphrasis, Klaus Obermaier