From dough to wheat : a posthuman performance practice with companion species : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, College of Creative Arts, Toi Rauwharangi, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This creative-practice-led doctoral research follows a question: What is it to practice Posthumanism? (Or, “what can Posthumanism do?”) The research joins a recent wave of enthusiasm, curiosity and speculation on Posthumanism, which finds contemporary scholarship traversing feminist studies, social and political sciences, and the humanities both informing and being informed by the arts. As such I follow, and am beholden to, figures such as Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti, Astrida Neimanis, Stephanie Springgay and Tarsh Bates. Building upon my experience and training across performance, theatre, costume, movement studies and photography, I use an iterative and process-oriented mode of inquiry centred on learning in the making and critical reflection upon one experimental work to shape and score the next one. A series of performances framed as contact improvisations has assisted my realisation of the expansive agency of yeast as it exerts itself in alternative methods of mixing, kneading, rising and baking processes. These range from cultivating seeds, wearing and cooking dough, and preparing bread for consumption. In this context, the physical, social and chemical boundaries of all bodies, including technological bodies, blur, converge and multiply; they are guided and activated by literal and conceptual gestures of touch. One of the central tenets in this transdisciplinary field of concern is exploring humankind’s relation to the environment, unhinging the root causes of human hubris, habits of waste, control and dominance at the expense of other bodies and, hopefully, to stall or prevent the destruction of the earth and inequities resulting from the misuse of power. I am one of many artists exploring what happens when binaries are abandoned—when humans let go of their self-importance—to reignite a co-living model with other species. Resting on the prospect of making contact with, building a relationship with, communicating with another material body, a non-human body, the research wonders what a new relationship between humans and “other-than-humans” might be.
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Listed in 2023 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
Performance art, New Zealand, 21st century, Posthumanism, Movement (Acting), Dough, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses