Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
Bio: Kelly Richmond is a graduate student of the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University. Her research explores the hybridizations and mutations that emerge when performance studies, queer studies, and ecocriticism come into contact. She is continuously in search of different and queerer forms of queer circus.
Title: Aroused by Failure: The Queer Affects and Socialites of Il n’est pas encore minuit
Abstract: If contemporary circus is always-already about difference, it is also always-already about perfection. Circus practice demands its performers constantly push the boundaries of superhuman embodiment, artistically re-presenting the body-at-risk, while maintaining strict athletic codes for the purposes of safety. The perfectionism of circus proves limiting for its explorations of difference: until we begin to question how circus defines and constructs its ideal performer, how can different narratives, bodies, and techniques come into practice?
In this paper I will look at a performance of Compagnie XY’s Il n’est pas encore minuit, which I attended during the 2017 Montreal Completement Cirque festival. This performance challenged the perfectionism of circus by choreographing conditions in which tricks were destined to fail. The display of repetitive failures became a celebration of the collective labor of spotting and catching, a re-imagination of circus where the imperfect brings together rather than divides. An explosion of the potentialities of circus failure, this production generated a new dimensions of circus practices and affects I can only describe as queer. By queer, I refer to Moyan King’s “multiplicitious state suggesting transgression, dissent, desire, and self- identification”, as well as Jose Muñoz’s “mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present”. Exploring the intersection of queer affect and queer sociality, I will trace how failure in Il n’est pas encore minuit offers not only a vision but a reality of how queer worlds both within and without the circus might work like.