The labor and leisure of foreplay: on pleasure, value and event in artistic production
Giulia Palladini’s lecture focuses on the idea of foreplay, a theoretical framework she has been developing in her work over the last couple of years to discuss a particular mode of performance production existing outside of predetermined structures of recognition in terms of professionalism, artistic achievement, and a logic of eventfulness. Borrowing the term and the concept from sexual terminology, she refers to foreplay as the condition of prolonged preliminarity in which artistic labour exists before and beyond its potential value realisation, as well as the possibility to disobey the logic of progressive time determining a supposed realisation of value: the accomplishment of a project, the climax of an event or the retrospective attribution of value to previously unpaid labour. In Palladini’s proposed use of the concept, foreplay denotes a peculiar temporality of artistic production, which can be considered both as paradigmatic for contemporary forms of precarious labour (too often suspended in a condition of eternal preliminarity) and also functioning as a counterforce within productive economy, as a prelude in which labour has not yet been assigned a value. The idea of foreplay shall be discussed not in light of a negative ontology – as a practice which is not yet, or not quite “the real thing” – but, on the contrary, as an affirmative horizon for a different measurement of temporality in pleasure and in production.
is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Roehampton in London. She is an Alexander von Humboldt fellow (2012–2014), and she has taught as Guest Professor in a number of international institutions, such as the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá and SNDO (School for New Dance Development) in Amsterdam. Her research focuses especially on performance labour and free time,
the affective archive, and materialist theories of artistic production. Her texts have appeared in several international journals, and she has collaborated as a theorist and curator in a number of critical and artistic projects. She is the author of the book The Scene of Foreplay: Theatre, Labor and Leisure in 1960s New York (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and co-editor of Lexicon for an Affective Archive (Slowo/obraz/terytoria. 2015; Intellect/LADA, 2017).