© 2018

Posthuman Spiritualities in Contemporary Performance

Politics, Ecologies and Perceptions

  • Provides an exhaustive interpretation of spirituality through performance and the multidisciplinary field of performance studies

  • Brings together practices and artists in a way that emphasises their common interest for religious and spiritual technologies of experimentation

  • Offers a first critical platform for future studies on the intersection between performance, religion and post-human theories


Table of contents

About this book


This book provides an interpretative analysis of the notion of spirituality through the lens of contemporary performance and posthuman theories. The book examines five performance/artworks: The Artist is Present (2010) by Marina Abramović; The Deer Shelter Skyscape(2007) by James Turrell; CAT (1998) by Ansuman Biswas; Journey to the Lower World by Marcus Coates (2004); and the work with pollen by Wolfgang Laib. Through the analysis of these works the notion of spirituality is grounded in materiality and embodiment allowing the conceptual juxtaposition of spirit and matter to introduce the paradoxical as the guiding thread of the narrative of the book. Here, the human is interrogated and negotiated with/within a plurality of other living organisms, intangible existences and micro and macrocosmic ecologies. Silence, meditation, shamanic journeys, reciprocal gazing, restraint, and contemplation are analyzed as technologies used to manipulate perception and adventure into the multilayered condition of matter.


Postmodern spirituality Michael Foucault Technologies of the self Marina Abramović Amsuman Biswas# James Turrell Contemplation Ritual Wolfgang Laib

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Drama, Dance and Performance StudiesLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Silvia Battista is an artist and writer. Over the last twenty years, she has engaged with a multidisciplinary set of artistic languages and research methods. Interested in the intersection between visual art, performance and theatre, particularly in the use of meditative, contemplative and ecstatic practices as creative and epistemological processes, she continues to encourage reflection on the spiritual dimension of matter. Her work has been presented internationally.

Bibliographic information


“Posthuman Spiritualities in Contemporary Performance combines Battista’s extensive experiential background in the spirituality of the numinous to examine the performance practices of Marina Abramovic, James Turrell, Ansuman Biswas, Marcus Coates and Wolfgang Laib. Each chapter is a journey in which the history of the artist is revealed in a spiritually-based practice and the art’s impact disclosed within the discursive frameworks of space, time, light, visual contact, etc. Readers will be inspired to reflect on the culturally derived boundaries that separate them from the non-human environment.” (Barbara Sellers-Young, Professor Emerita, York University, UK)

“In this book, Silvia Battista demonstrates how the productive relationship (alchemy) between cultural performances and spiritual practices engenders a new materialist ontology. The notion of “introspective theatre” becomes paradigmatic of a philosophical, empirical and aesthetic structure that affords a contact with the numinous – the feeling-experience of the sacred, beyond the reach of conventional perceptual logics. The author lays out the performative technologies of exemplary artistic practices that impart the sense – and poetics – of immanence that is each work's metaphorical core. This publication represents a major contribution to both political agency and ecological consciousness; a milestone in contemporary scholarship in performance, religion, and spirituality.” (Katharina Pewny. Professor of Performance Studies, Ghent University, Belgium)

“The spiritual impulse is present in most humans. Its institutional expressions, however, can become stale and in need of creative evolution. Silvia Battista’s new book proposes to pursue such an evolutionary renewal by offering a carefully chosen selection of the history and practice of the ‘sacred spaces’ of theatre. I welcome this fascinating, intellectually and spiritually broadening, study.” (Wendy Wheeler, Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Cultural Inquiry, London Metropolitan University, UK)