Kairos time: the performativity of timing and timeliness … or; between biding one’s time and knowing when to act

Cocker, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-2985-7839, 2015. Kairos time: the performativity of timing and timeliness … or; between biding one’s time and knowing when to act. In: 1st PARSE Biennial Research Conference on TIME, Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 4-6 November 2015.

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This paper investigates contemporary performance and artistic practice through the prism of kairos, a concept that in spite of the ‘temporal turn’ within the arts and humanities - and its familiarity within literary and rhetorical studies - has remained relatively under-interrogated in relation to artistic making and thinking. Kairos is an Ancient Greek term meaning a fleeting opportunity that needs to be grasped before it passes: not an abstract measure of time passing (chronos) but of time ready to be seized, an expression of timeliness, a critical juncture or ‘right time’ where something could happen. Kairos has origins in two different sources as Eric Charles White notes: archery - “an opening … through which the archer’s arrow has to pass”, and weaving - the “ ‘critical time’ when the weaver must draw the yarn through a gap that momentarily opens in the warp” (1987, p.13). The Ancient Greek art of technē (referring to a ‘productive’ or ‘tactical’ knowledge, rather than craft) is underpinned by the principles of kairos (opportune timing) and mêtis (cunning intelligence). Alternatively, for philosopher Antonio Negri, kairòs refers to the ‘restless’ instant where naming and the thing named attain existence (in time), for which he draws example from the way that the poet “vacillating, fixes the verse” (2003, p.153.) Drawing Negri’s writing on the ‘revolutionary time’ of kairos into dialogue with Ancient Greek rhetoric, this paper elaborates the significance of kairos to contemporary art practice and critical imagination, identifying various artistic practices that operate as contemporary manifestations of Ancient technē, or analogously to Negri’s ‘poet’: practices alert or attentive to the live circumstances or ‘occasionality’ of their own making, based on kairotic principles of immanence, intervention and invention-in-the-middle.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Creators: Cocker, E.
Date: 2015
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 08 Apr 2016 10:27
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 14:01
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27462

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