International symposium: Sensorial in theatre

Sensorial in theatre – on the scent trail in and beyond the everyday

The international scientific and artistic conference will take place in October 2020 as a part of the Professional Programme of the 55th Maribor Theatre Festival. The symposium will join forces of the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television and of the Faculty of Arts, both part of University of Ljubljana, Slovenian Theatre Institute and the Sensorium Theatre which specializes in sensorial language. The principal aim of the symposium is to map this largely unexplored but significant field of performing and visual arts with the performance studies, anthropology, cultural studies and other fields studying art and culture.

Today, sensorial theatre is linked to a highly popular branch of immersive theatres that emerged since the turn of the millennium as a popular form of performance. It interweaves playfulness into the relationship between performer, audience, and performance space. While the discussion on immersive theatres has largely focused on a selection of urban theatre companies that have acquired reputations as the forerunners in the field, it neglected the practitioners of the sensorial or sensory theatre who develop immersive methodologies within theatre. These are, as yet, largely undocumented. The aim of the conference is to contribute to the field of sensory within the theatre culture, and to extend its discussion by considering the work and the ‘poetics of the senses’ by the Colombian theatre director Enrique Vargas as well as his followers. It will try to expand the current conceptualisation of immersive sensorial theatres and examine the possible transformative potential
of its specific performative practice.

The conference will also try to link the notion of sensorial theatre to Victor Turner and his “crossing of a threshold which separates two distinct areas, one associated with the subject’s pre-ritual or pre liminal status, and the other with his post-ritual or post liminal status”. Sensorial theatre started in Slovenia in1996, with the premiere of Oracles by Enrique Vargas, the world-renowned director of Teatro de los sentidos (Theatre of the senses), whose creative work introduced this specific system to a group of participating Slovenian artists. One of the most prominent researchers in sensory, i.e. multisensory studies, David Howes, points out that the time of the sensorial revolution is coming, not just as a turnaround or a turn (in terms of performative, linguistic, spatial, ontological and other turns).

The conference will focus on the following issues and topics: studies of specific performances and performing models, as well as examples from the field of sensorial in theatre, performing practices and culture in general. Its aim will be to outline specificities of the sensorial languages within the immersive and devising contemporary art; mapping, defining and foreseeing which new tools bring sensory theatre to the stage, to galleries and museums and to the spaces of the everyday. It will try to define in what waythe sensorial method activates the process of self-examination by unlocking images, memories and associations and how it builds up a specific self-reflection and self-awareness. How do performing and visual arts use the scents in their specific; what the sensorial revolution contributes to the future of art and culture scholarship, locally and globally? It will include contributions which deal with specific performances and performance models, performing practices and sensory culture, with sensorial as a possible tool for social mediation and association of different social groups. The event will also be accompanied by a sensorial trip around Maribor.

PROGRAMME and VIDEO   Thursday, 15 October 2020

14.00 – 14.45 OPENING LECTURE: Enrique Vargas: Teatro de los sentidos
14.45 – 15.00 Coffee break 
15.00 David Howes, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec
Nose-wise: Scenting anthropological knowledge production and communication
15.30 Discussion
16.00 Rajko Muršič, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts
Between aisthēsis and colere: performing the everyday and improvising culture
16.20 Discussion
16.40 Tomaž Toporišič, University of Ljubljana, Academy of Theatre …
Performing sensorial liminality
17.00 Discussion

18.00 Sensorial walk through Maribor (Rajko Muršič)

PROGRAMME and VIDEO  Friday, 16 October 2020

Friday, 16 October 2020
11.00 – 12.15 2nd panel: THE METONYMY OF SMELL
11.00 Caro Verbeek, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
“The scent, the scent alone is enough for us beasts!” – the (Political) Role of Smell during the Avant-garde”
11.20 Discussion
11.30 Simon Hajdini, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts
The Name of the Rose
11.50 Discussion
12.00 – 12.15 Coffee break

12.15 – 13.00 3rd panel: IMMERSIVE AESTHETICS
12.15 Peter de Cupere, PXL–MAD School of Arts, Belgium
‘The Olfactory Context, Concept and the Olfactory Transfers’
12.35 Discussion
12.45 Barbara Pia Jenič, Senzorium
Igor Areh, University of Maribor, Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security
The art of the immersion with smell and sensorial theatre language
13.10 Discussion
13.30 – 15.00 Lunch break

15.00 Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä, University of Eastern Finland
Talking sensory life into being while moving: sensobiographic walks with artists in Ljubljana and Turku
15.20 Discusssion
15.30 Barbara Orel, University of Ljubljana, Academy of Theatre …
The World of Odour in the Slovenian Performing Arts
15.50 – 16.00 Discussion
16.00 – 16.15 Coffee break
16.15 – 17.00 Final Discussion

17.00 Sensorial walk through Maribor (Rajko Muršič)