In this paper, I will put into question an observed tendency in Western thinking, to universalize humankind and societies under an absolute state of time, space and matter, with the focus on a particular understanding of the void. In doing so, the very idea of extinction is projected into a time that is neither here nor now. Moreover, a neutral consequence is assumed among humanity, erasing differences between narratives and justifying colonial traits based on a Western idea of empty spaces. As the quantum physicist and philosopher Karen Barad argues:
“To place the apocalypse before us, to think that it lies only in our imagination, that we are haunted by its possibility still unrealized, is to reiterate not only a very particular telling of time and history, but a particularly privileged “we,” complicit in regimes of erasure.”[i]
The misleading aspect of this neutral perspective takes place when it is assumed to have a certain privileged ‘we’ as a standard model in which the ‘others’ should relate to. In the case of extinction, it comes to account when it is placed on an imaginary future, including all human beings at once instead of acknowledging the ongoing differential states and dynamics in our contemporary society (e.g., the extinction of indigenous people, languages, and cultures as a result of colonization and the empowerment of capitalist systems). My perspective is that the ongoing dynamics in society can be recognized in and confronted by the field of performing arts (and vice-versa). Thus, the search for homogeneity is rather problematic. This characteristic potentiates the neutrality of performative states and narrative constructions, which can dangerously ignore differences between performers (ethnical, technic background, cultures, etc.), as well as in relation to places where the performance happens.
I will develop this argument through the lenses of Quantum Field theory, supported by Post humanist and decolonial studies, and its attempt to break a traditional understanding of the ‘void’. I will call into question the very definition of the Anthropocene and the relationship between humanity and the environment towards a metaphysical level of extinction and its colonial influences. What are the implications underlined in the discourse of neutrality? How can we emancipate the individual from the universal? When does performing arts become political? My research question is elaborated as follows: How can the performing arts apply the deconstruction of time, space, matter, and the void, offered by Quantum Field Theory, as dramaturgical strategies to address the climate crisis?
[i] (Barad, After the end of the world: Entangled nuclear colonialism, matters of force, and the material force of justice, 2020, p. 103)