Performance Research Volume 25 Issue 2

On Dark Ecologies

Issue editors: Angenette Spalink & Jonah Winn-Lenetsky

ISSN: 1352-8165 (2020) 25:2

Timothy Morton describes dark ecology as ‘ecological awareness, dark-depressing. Yet ecological awareness is also dark-uncanny. And strangely it is dark-sweet.’ The concept of dark ecology represents a crucial intervention in the current moment of political conservatism and climate change denial and enables a focused exploration of a wide range of issues relating to performance and ecology. Human activity on the planet is responsible for a number of ecological and political dilemmas, including (but not limited to) global climate change, pollution, leaking pipelines, fragmentation of ecosystems, diminishing natural resources and nuclear meltdowns. While some may harbour hope and positivity about the future, it is easy to feel overwhelmingly hopeless about these large-scale, complex problems. Morton refers to the awareness of these substantial ecological dilemmas as ‘ecognosis’, which he describes as ‘a riddle… It is something like coexisting. It is like being accustomed to something strange.’ It is this tension between hope and despair, the coexistence between ‘depressing’ and ‘sweet’ — this space of ‘dark ecologies’ in our current political and ecological climate — that we explore in this special issue. The essays in this issue consider dark ecology in relation to performance and explore the ways that performance can intervene in or engage with a plurality of dark ecologies.


Angenette Spalink, Jonah Winn-Lenetsky

pp. 1 - 5

My Sweet Disposability, Oh, Bury the Living and Unearth the Dead : A postcard from nowhere

Malin Palani

pp. 6 - 13

Plastiglomerates, Microplastics, Nanoplastics : Toward a dark ecology of plastic performativity

Katie Schaag

pp. 14 - 21

Choreographic Architecture and Vital Knowledge : Gaëtan Rusquet’s Meanwhile

Kate Mattingly

pp. 22 - 29

Estado Vegetal, a Gesture of Imitation : An Interview with Manuela Infante

Laurel V. McLaughlin

pp. 30 - 37

‘A Twisted, Looping Form’ : Staging dark ecologies in Ella Hickson’s Oil

Patrick Lonergan

pp. 38 - 44

Black-Light Ecologies : Punctuate! Theatre’s Bears wipes off the oil

Gabriel Levine

pp. 45 - 52

Choreographies of Mourning : Commemorating multi-species loss in boundaries/conditions performance assembly’s Operations (1945–2006): Movements

Hannah Kaya

pp. 53 - 60

Embodying Climate Change : Self-immolation and the hope of no escape

Clara Margaret Wilch

pp. 61 - 68

Hau : Living archive of breath

Carol Brown, Tia Reihana-Morunga

pp. 69 - 78

‘Global Weirding’ : Australian absurdist cli-fi plays

Stephen Carleton, Chris Hay

pp. 79 - 86

‘Dark Choreography’ of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre

Robyn Sassen

pp. 87 - 94

Remembrance Day for Lost Species : Toward an ethics of witnessing extinction

Shelby Brewster

pp. 95 - 101

No Away : Phantom Limb Company’s Falling Out

Brenda Bowen, Liz Ivkovich

pp. 102 - 110

We All Live Downwind [artist’s pages]

Shanna Merola

pp. 111 - 114

Embodied Narratives of Candomblé’s Afro-Bahian Caboclos : Dark ecologies and critical kinetics

Mika Lillit Lior

pp. 115 - 125

Towards Radical Coexistence in the City : Performing the bio-urban in Bonnie Ora Sherk’s The Farm and Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s Flow City

Lisa Woynarski

pp. 126 - 133

Reterritorializing India : The politics of dark ecologies in Deepan Sivaraman’s Peer Gynt


pp. 134 - 140

Unsettling Existence : Land acknowledgement in contemporary Indigenous performance

Chris Bell

pp. 141 - 148

Notes on Contributors

pp. 149 - 150