Alice Lagaay is a Berlin-based philosopher, actively involved in the emerging interdisciplinary field of Performance Philosophy. She is a founding member and core convenor of the Performance Philosophy network and co-editor of the Performance Philosophy book series published by Palgrave Macmillan Performance Philosophy. Her current research focuses on the notion of "creative indifference" (as conceived by expressionist philosopher Salomo Friedlaender in 1918), in the context of a wider investigation into practices of "negative performance" (letting be/leaving being, not-doing, silence, failure, the impossible).
Dated from 2017
Fields of research
Media Theory (with special attention to voice, body, silence & notions of the "middle"/"milieu"),
20th Century European Philosophy
IKKM Research Project
Salomo Friedlaender’s ‚Creative Indifference’ (1918) as an ethical, ontological, political and performative source
Two distinct currents can be observed within recent academic discourse. One has to do with an evolution from theories generated by the 1960s philosophies of difference (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze et al.) towards explorations of the dimension of indifference. Giorgio Agamben’s enigmatic announcement, on the opening page of The Coming Community, that “The coming being is whatever being”, can be read as an instance of this new staging of indifference, which goes along with a heightened engagement with forms of materiality and embodiment, as well as subjective and creative life.
A second recent development relates to multiple drives, across the arts and humanities, to explore both the theoretical potential of artistic practices on the one hand, and the performative potential of theory on the other, by exploring the overlap between philosophy and performance. A measure of this undercurrent is the move to establish Artistic Research as an academic discipline, or the speed at which the international Performance Philosophy network has attracted active members from around the world.
The recent rediscovery of the works of the early twentieth century artist-philosopher Salomo Friedlaender is of particular interest in this double context. Friedlaender was a prominent figure within the circle of Berlin expressionist artists and intellectuals in the 1910s. As a prolific philosopher, who wrote extensive commentaries on Nietzsche, Kant, Buber, Einstein and many others, his magnum opus was the influential Schöpferische Indifferenz, first published in 1918, and recognised as a source not only for Walter Benjamin, but also for Fritz Perls, for whom it inspired the development of Gestalt Therapy. Friedlaender was also well known for expressing his philosophy of creative indifference in satirical texts and grotesque political tales which he published under the pseudonym Mynona – the retrograde German word for anonymous, and synonym of sorts for “indifferent”.
My interest in Friedlaender/Mynona (F/M) stems from the hunch that a study of his place in the history of early twentieth century theory makes it possible to draw a genealogical line between a theory of indifference and a heightened engagement with the performative and artistic qualities of philosophy, thus linking the two mentioned strains of contemporary thought. F/M can be shown not only to have been a precursor to deconstruction, long before Heidegger or Derrida, but also as a Performance Philosopher avant la lettre. A reconstruction of his influence upon some of his better known peers reveals him as a key figure, through which a politics of indifference can be related to the body work practices (Gestalt therapy and Sensory Awareness among them) and theories of creative selfhood that helped shape the course of holistic therapeutic approaches, but also of many artistic expressions, from Dada to Cunningham, from Hausmann to Sun Ra.
ENCOUNTERS IN PERFORMANCE PHILOSOPHY, Theatre, Performativity and the Practice of Theory, (Co-edited with Laura Cull O'Maoilearca), Palgrave Macmillan 2014.
Performance in Philosophy/Philosophy in Performance: How can performative practices enhance the teaching of theory? Co-authored with Jörg Holkenbrink. In: Performance Matters, Vol. 2.1. “Performance and Pedagogy” 2016.
From Ach! to Bof! A Response to Avital Ronell, in: Anna Street et al. (eds.): Interviews: Conversations and Crossings in Performance Philosophy, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
- Ungrund, Neutrum, Indifferenz. Ein Versuch mit Salomo Friedlaender (1871-1946), in: Rautzenberg, Markus/Juliane Schiffers (Hg.): Ungründe. Perspektiven Prekärer Fundierung. München: Fink 2016.