Cover of 2007 publication of  Thirteen Ways of Talking About Performance Writing  (Plymouth College of Art Press, 2007)

Cover of 2007 publication of Thirteen Ways of Talking About Performance Writing (Plymouth College of Art Press, 2007)


‘Performance, Writing’: what’s that comma up to?

John Hall

Sunday 12 March, City Gallery, 6:30 pm

Open and free to the public

When the two terms – Performance and Writing – come together in any kind of coupling, their combination no longer marks a single, clearly designated practice or space of operation or display. When a comma comes between them everything really does start wobbling in the enactment of an unfinished thought. A relationship is signalled: could it be the beginning of a longer list, for example? How does the performance of a comma differ from that of an unpunctuated gap or of an ‘and’ or of any of a range of prepositions such as ‘for’? In the early 1990s, John Hall, whose primary practice had been poetry for the page, brought together a group of artist-teachers to plan a writing degree whose alignment would be less with the institutional study of ‘literature’ than with the actual practices and conceptual preoccupations of performance and studio arts. Eventually the group settled on a name: Performance Writing, singular, no comma. The approach to writing treated each term as unsettled and their potential relationships as constituting the climate of thought in which the learning would take place. In 2013, John developed his thoughts on the continuing validity of the proposition and what had changed in and to the scene of writing in an essay for a special issue of the Journal for Writing in Creative Practice on Performance Writing. 


John Hall is a poet, retired teacher and essayist, who has been placing poems in public contexts (‘publishing’) for nearly fifty years and who was for many years an active contributor to the pioneering arts institution, Dartington College of Arts, playing a leading role in developing cross-disciplinary activities and in planning and launching a new subject field called Performance Writing.

He has had several collections of page-poems published over the years, a novella, and two volumes of essays, one of which brings together his published writings on Performance Writing. There have been two selections made from his poems, with thirteen years between their publications: Else Here (1999) and Keepsache (2014). These are companion publications in the sense that no poem appears in both. In recent decades he has also been making visual poems, for frames, walls and shelves rather than for pages. He has had three solo exhibitions and been included in a number of themed group shows, including one in 2004 that celebrated ten years of Performance Writing.

Soon after Dartington was merged into what was to become Falmouth University in 2008, John Hall was appointed as Professor of Performance Writing, a role from which he retired in December 2015. He is now Professor Emeritus of Falmouth University. He continues to work as a poet and performance writer, to collaborate with others, and to participate formally and informally in conversations that have a bearing on writing, its relation with other disciplines and its performativity in contemporary everyday life.

More details can be found at
Image credit: ©DominicSteinmann/CartelPhotos/Falmouth University


 Image credit: Katie Harmsworth

Image credit: Katie Harmsworth


Performing Practice

Esther Anatolitis

Monday, 13 March 2017 6:30 pm

Massey University, Museum Building Lecture Theatre 10A02

Open and free to the public

As modes of writing and as modes of thinking, critique and advocacy are fundamental to my practice. They are expansive, responsive and connective. They take a complex set of propositions, identifying them within the unique cultural and political trajectory of which they are the culminating work, and in doing so, making them public. Advocacy and critique perform the reception of practice. The third strand of my practice, experimentation, both disrupts and formalises my approach to each of the three. Experimentation is deeply personal, drawing out an instinctive mode of working, and in doing so, exposing the profound ways in which those instincts are always already attuned to writing as form. For the self, experimentation is the performance of writing as practice. This keynote traces the parallel trajectories that comprise my practice, culminating in the conscious decision to experiment with ways of making public its more private aspects: to experiment with the performance of practice. I will draw on recent adventures in archive, drawing, constructive disruption, exhibition and other ways of making public what is essentially private: performing practice as a work in itself.

Esther Anatolitis is a writer and curator with an abiding interest in how art creates public space in all its forms. Her practice rigorously integrates professional and artistic modes of working to create collaborations, projects and workplaces that promote a critical reflection on practice. 

With a focus on both structure and constructive disruption, she has presented or collaborated on works across media and across the world. Esther’s writing has been published widely both in English and in translation. While experimentation is her writerly love, her influential blog spans critique, politics and culture. In 2016 she exhibited her twenty-year INDEX-SYSTEM project at Mailbox 141 in Melbourne. 

Esther is Director of Projects at Regional Arts Victoria and a facilitator of Independent Convergence. She co-curated Architecture+Philosophy for ten years, and curated Digital Publics Melbourne and Sydney in 2016. Her former leadership roles include Melbourne Fringe, Craft Victoria, SYN Media and Express Media. Esther serves the boards of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Contemporary Arts Precincts, and Elbow Room as Chair, and is a former Chair of the Arts Industry Council of Victoria.

For more about Esther’s practice, see


Place Taking Place: Performative Writing

Judd Morrissey

Tuesday 14 March 2017 6:30 pm

Museum Building, 10A02, Massey University

Free and Open to the Public

This talk will navigate and map emerging territories of writing that arise from a complex entanglement of language, code, bodies, and technologies that capture and transform space. If performance writing situates text within a generative field of possibilities that considers contexts such as site, embodiment, and other mediums and disciplines, performative writing can be seen as a simple alphabetic mutation and forced upgrade of this inquiry that synthesizes reality-transforming operations of language, ritual and algorithm. Drawing upon histories of spatial poetics, discourses of the posthuman, the acceleration of augmented and virtual reality, and the speaker's own work as an electronic writer and performance-maker, the keynote will question into existence queer liminalities that gesture towards a new poetics of place.

Judd Morrissey is a writer and code artist who creates poetic systems across a range of platforms incorporating electronic writing, internet art, live performance, and augmented reality. He is the creator of digital literary works including The Precession: An 80 Foot Long Internet Art Performance Poem (2011), The Last Performance [dot org] (Electronic Literature Collection Vol.2, 2011), The Jew's Daughter (Electronic Literature Collection Vol.1, 2006), and My Name is Captain, Captain (Eastgate Systems, 2002). He is a recipient of acknowledgements including a Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, a Fulbright Scholar’s Award in Digital Culture, and a Mellon Foundation Collaborative Fellowship for Arts Practice and Scholarship.

Judd is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Art and Technology Studies and Writing. In 2012, he co-founded the performance and technology collective Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r). The group are currently working in-residence at the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago. Their first work, The Operature, premiered in 2014, and they are currently working on new large-scale project, Kjell Theøry, scheduled for completion in 2017.

His projects have been included in a broad range of festivals, conferences and exhibitions with recent venues including Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (Buenos Aires), Zero1 Garage (San Jose), Eyebeam (NYC), Le Cube (Paris), Casa das Caldeiras (Coimbra), Anatomy Theater & Museum (London), Performing House (York), Center of Contemporary Culture Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Landmark Kunsthalle (Bergen), House of World Cultures (Berlin), Teatre & TD (Zagreb), and the Chicago Cultural Center. His work has been the subject of numerous critical studies and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, The New Republic, RAINTAXI, and the Iowa Review.

For more on ATOM-r: &&


Writing / Performing / Identity & other such grand ideas

Tina Makereti

Wednesday 15 March 2017 9:00 am

SPCA/ Infirmary Building, Mt Victoria, Wellington


performance pəˈfɔːm(ə)ns



i. an act of presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment.

ii. an act of performing a dramatic role, song, or piece of music.

iii. a display of exaggerated behaviour or a process involving a great deal of unnecessary time and effort; a fuss.


As a writer of fiction and personal essays, I don’t often think of what I do in terms of performance, in fact, I prefer not to think about performance at all. But it is something I am required to do frequently and not only do I perform writing, I also now find myself writing performance, particularly performance of identity. Performance to me is a word that connotes movement on the surface, as defined above, an ‘act’ or ‘display’, while fiction and creative non-fiction are suggestive of internal worlds, the depths of our being, and other such grand ideas. The provocation of this conference, however, causes me to consider the interaction of those two realms, and my assumptions about the meaning of both. I am currently working on a novel about a Māori boy who continuously loses his way and finds himself among new people and new cultures. It is 1846, and he leaves his home yearning for an English education, imitating the language of the Empire so eloquently that they mistake him ‘for an English boy in native costume’. Exhibited in the Egyptian Hall, London, our hero soon encounters all kinds of performers: little people; ‘missing links’; non-Indigenous people pretending to be ‘natives’; ‘freaks’ and actual Indigenous people like him. Beyond that the Victorian world is full of facsimiles of reality: panoramas, dioramas, stage shows and automaton. In such a world (just like our own), figuring out what is and isn’t real, and what that even means, becomes important.

Tina Makereti writes essays, novels and short stories. Her most recent short story, 'Black Milk', recently won the Pacific Regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2016). Her first novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Vintage, 2014) has been described as a New Zealand classic and ‘a remarkable first [book that] spans generations of Moriori, Māori and Pākehā descendants as they grapple with a legacy of pacifism, violent domination and cross-cultural dilemmas.’ It was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award 2016 and won the 2014 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Award for Fiction. Her short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa (Huia Publishers 2010), which combines mythological and contemporary stories, also won the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Award for Fiction in 2011. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (non-fiction), and in the same year received the Pikihuia Award for Best Short Story Written in English. Makereti is Curator Māori for Museums Wellington and convenes a Māori & Pasifika Creative Writing Workshop at Victoria University. She is currently writing a novel about a young Māori man who was exhibited in the Egyptian Hall in London in the 1840s. She is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi and Pākehā descent.