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Accepted Paper:

The multisensual otherness. stage presence vs. experience of distance  
Dagnoslaw Demski (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The reports related to ethnic shows in East-Central Europe are full of expression. I focus on staging otherness. By using a concept of 'aura' (Benjamin 1935) I discuss how emotions which aroused by the presence of exotic people on stage, help to broaden understanding of the phenomenon of live shows.

Paper long abstract:

Ethnic shows in East-Central Europe (1870-1930) formed a phenomenon of encounter with Others typical to the era of pre-image. They were studied thoroughly in the West, though not in the East. However, some sources about these shows have been preserved. Interactions between the 'exotic' actors and the audience are the most pressing subject to be investigated.

In order to explore it from the perspective of affect and emotion I use a concept of 'aura' (Benjamin 1935), defined as 'a strange tissue of space and time: this unique apparition of a distance, no matter how close it may be'. In this sense the aura is associated with stage presence, and uniqueness of the actors 'their presence in the here and the now which paradoxically emphasize feeling of distance'. This approach allows to recognize moments and sensations evoked by performances. Benjamin's insight here is that each human sensory perspective is not completely biological. It is also historical. The ways people perceive change with social changes.

In such studies the way of using senses plays central part in the final interpretation of the phenomenon. Working on existing sources researchers can figure out the 'spots' that evoked reaction or touched emotional plane of the audience. What should be underlined is what attendants were seeking in these shows, and the ways of collapsing the distance between the actors and the audience. Using such approach to live shows enables understanding how physical closeness and sensual contact can produce effect within Benjamin's aura to create a distance.

Panel Body06
Body, affect, senses and emotion: fields and perspectives [SIEF Working Group on Body, Affects, Senses, and Emotions (BASE)]
  Session 1 Tuesday 16 April, 2019, -