Introduction: Plant Performance
Plants perform their own interests and purposes. Plants perform in ways that afford and invite specific human experiences. Plants also perform complex biopolitical roles. With these multivalent understandings of plant performance in mind, this introduction to the “Plant Performance” issue of Performance Philosophy outlines the editors’ broadly feminist approach to the challenges facing scholars and artists in the field of Critical Plant Studies. We present these challenges, including colonisation and decolonisation, botanical aesthetics and its vegetal limits, instrumentality and vegetal respect, and phytopolitics and plant liveliness, as provocations for scholars and artists grappling with ecological, political and creative human relations with the vegetal world. The introduction, alongside the eight essays included in the issue, considers how thinking with plant performance might create conditions for a more contextual, critical, reflexive, nuanced, and/or urgent understanding of plant-human relationships, both historically and in the current moment. In addition to considering questions of plant performative agency, the issue foregrounds the politico-aesthetic conditions in which plant performances cannot help but occur. It details how specific works of performance art intervene in these conditions, and it contributes to the development of a more global and multiply-situated network of performative, critical plant knowledges, relations, and practices.
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