What if Imagination Were Real?

Risk and Potentiality in Copenhagen-based Performance Art Examples


  • Maja Ejrnæs Copenhagen University




performance art, performativity, liminality, example, extreme, framing, matter, evocation


This article explores extremity in performance art from the perspective of an insider. The article contributes with ethnographic insights on liminality and lived experience in performance art, which is still an unexplored field of anthropological study. It investigates how the Copenhagen-based performance group called Sisters Hope intentionally evoke examples of (and for) a future Sensuous Society. It argues that framing is key to what Sisters Hope examples evoke and whether they ‘work’ as intended; as transformative counterparts to ‘the outside world’. While extremity may take on the appearance of shocking contrasts, it is also emphasized as a matter of blurry boundaries in the selected performance art examples. In this context, extremity is cast as radical risk and potentiality that shake or transform experienced reality. The paper argues that Sisters Hope participants navigate in what if modes where sensations in the present and hopes for the future overlap in utopian performatives here and now. Through engagement with performance art examples over time, pretend play can transform into experienced authenticity, and this may eventually reverse experiences of what is ordinary and extreme for the immersed participant. The paper ends with a contemplation on whether the transformative impact of performance art examples is limited by societal fear of the unknown.

Sensuous Governing - The City Hall of Copenhagen by Sisters Hope   photo: I diana lindhardt