Events and festivals as radical and liminal spaces

During the open space there was a balance between discussions which were conceptual and practical. This really reflected the diversity of the audience and also the diversity of the area of study. Events and festivals have always been characterised as being liminal phenomena, underlining the anthropological roots of the much of the study in the area. However, is this a restrictive way to think through festivals and events? David Jarman summarises the debates of the open space here…

 

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Image by David Jackmonson (Flickr)

  • Not quite everyday life, but there are still rules.
  • Phases of ritual: liminal is central, the phase where someone goes from one state to another and is open to new ideas. A transformative phase.
  • What happens when the person goes back into the normal world?
  • A space of potential: other things are possible.
  • Venice Carnival: the wearing of masks to deliver equality, or at least anonymity.
  • Festivals that turn things on their heads: performances in different spaces; juxtaposing audiences and performers; altering the geography and flow of a place.
  • Transformative: do we see people being changed?
  • Ritual, carnival and liminality: Bakhtin, etc. …the potential for people to come back from a festival experience a different person. Does this work only at the individual level, but not for broader social change? Yet the individuals are what makes up society, and they have agency.
  • Thresholds: what does it take for an individual to let themselves go?
  • Examples: Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh; LIFT in London. Starting projects in order to produce and provide spaces in which new ideas can be discussed, phenomena created.
  • Does liminality apply in a sports context? Crossing a touchline into a space where different rules apply? Yet liminality suggests there are no rules.

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