The conference theme “OverFlow” takes a reverse view on the political tropes customary in “times of crisis” – “OverFlow” focuses on abundance, transgression, and leakage instead of the usually evoked themes of lack, restriction, and loss. The event takes place in the context of the performing arts triennial Theater der Welt (“theater of the world”), which, in 2017, is dedicated to Hamburg harbor with its history of cosmopolitism and colonial trade, of boom and bust, of immigration and emigration. The sprawling harbor scenery (partly globalized commercial and tourist hub, partly local post-industrial decay, partly contested social space) is set to provide the backdrop to a great variety of site-specific performances. It also has a history of storm tides and of being literally overflowed.
In recent years, the idea of “flow,” i.e. of being fully immersed in the activity at hand, has gained prominence in the theories of subjectivity and collectivity, but also in the self-help industry as the pathway to happiness, wellness and a good life. Moreover, notions of “flow” have influenced performance art (and the performing arts in general) with respect to concepts and practices of the moving body, artistic collaboration (from cooperative practices to the synchronization of processes), the use of time (simultaneity), creativity, etc. As a conference theme, “OverFlow” breaks away from “flow’s” inherent promise and poses questions of overload, escalation, interruption, hybrid connectivity as well as disconnection, redundancy, boundaries and borders. The “over” in “OverFlow” can be the rupture of spillovers and profusion; it also relates to an alleged or real overcrowding of space and time, the rhetoric of expulsion or inclusion of desired or undesired bodies, techniques of overpowering or depleting the senses, etc. All of these and many additional aspects have not only been the subject of intense political, ethical, and social scrutiny in recent years. They have also been explored in performance art and performance studies. The conference aims at producing its own “OverFlow” by engendering modes of exchange, discussion, interconnection, and contrasts between these various points of view.