Interview with Soledad Falabella (2011)
Professor Soledad Falabella Luco is the director of ESE:O, a nonprofit organization which promotes performative writing projects and the teaching and practice of writing to empower learning communities with effective skills for local and global participation in knowledge production and circulation (http://www.eseo.cl). She teaches feminist critical theory, performance, and poetry at the Magíster en Género y Cultura, Universidad de Chile. Dr. Falabella brings over 15 years of experience in academia and has taught and conducted research internationally. As an "academic and cultural activist," she is committed to developing creative ways to promote social change by combining pedagogy, research, activism, and the arts. Falabella holds a PhD in Hispanic Literature and Languages from the University of California, Berkeley. Books: ¿Qué será de Chile en el Cielo? - Poema de Chile de Gabriela Mistral (LOM 2003), Hilando en la Memoria: Curriao, Huinao, Millapan, Manquepillan, Panchillo, Pinda, Rupailaf, the first anthology of Mapuche women poets (Cuarto Propio 2006), Hilando en la Memoria, Epu Rupa (Cuarto Propio 2009), Cantando la infancia, Chile y la tierra Americana Poetic Anthology of Gabriela Mistral for boys and girls from 4-6 years old (Ministry de Education 2008).X
Soledad Falabella: Hello, my name is Soledad Falabella, I work at the Universidad de Chile. I am also associated with the Department of Creative Literature at Universidad de Diego Portales. In addition, I direct an NGO [nongovernmental organization] called ESE:O, which is dedicated to action-based research.
Diana Taylor: Thank you, Soledad. Tell me a little bit about how you understand performance studies.
Diana: Described in this way, are there institutions in Chile where performance studies are taught?
Diana: Art Collection…
Soledad: ...where this interdisciplinary enunciation occurs from different lines, and it is very much thought of as neo-vanguard and as a response to a particular political moment. Now, with respect to where this work, in particular, is situtated, I would say that it is pretty nomadic; it depends on the professors, where the professors are working from, where they are hired, where they are going. It’s a very migratory thing. ARCIS University, [Universidad de Artes y Ciancias Sociales] where Isabel Piper was teaching, which organized, I believe, one of the first conferences on performance and memory in Chile in the 90s or at the beginning of the 2000s. So there is an area, also, that I would say is not very active today, which deals mostly with the question. What we mostly see is the issue of the visual arts. However, there are these other theoretical substrata installed there, but they have difficulty finding points of dialogue.
“What I like most about performance studies [is the] possibility to work public space as a political space of the constitution of materiality and subjectivity... thinking about the bodies that emerge in the public sphere as bodies that are valid, legitimate, and authorized to not represent, but to have power. And which are the abject bodies that are considered infrahuman”
Diana: But it’s interesting that you see performance in a comprehensive way. That is to say, that it includes both performance art, which is what is normally understood as “performance” in Latin America, as well as the interdisciplinary, theoretical part: performance as an epistemic lens to understand a series of relations. That seems interesting to me.
Soledad: Yes. I would say that that is what is most valuable: that all of us come with a strong theoretical background, and that this is precisely what allows us to find points of intersection and to link them to the political, which is what I like most about the performative and performance studies as a possibility to work public space as a political space of the constitution of materiality and subjectivity.
Diana: So in your own work, in your research, how do you use performance? It seems to me, then, like that epistemic lens or...
Diana: And your students, are they interested in performance studies? Is it something that they understand as an emerging field or something that they are looking at, little by little, in different ways, as a field of study?
Soledad: My students love it. The truth is that when I propose the possibility to read performance, I mean studies of performance, and make their own academic work as students, writers, and creators, in the end it is an invitation for them to be creators. To tell them, “What you do is important, and it is going to have repercussions; it is political, critical, and can be creative. Keep going. You are actors, this is an action.” Many things are released. We apply this to thesis writing, for example, and theses that are different from the traditional canon of theses have emerged, and they say, “Well, we must be consistent with what we are proposing in terms of content, what happens with language if I hold this theoretical position?” and some students have been very successful in carrying out projects, creating a new language from this impetus to take it seriously, to believe in it. So I would say that performance studies at the level of teaching itself, of day to day teaching, is a very vitalizing energy.
Diana: Good. Many thanks, Sole.
Soledad: You’re welcome. Thanks to you, Diana.
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