Techniques of Making Public: The Sensorium Through Eating and Walking

Natalie Doonan


In this article, Doonan analyzes two performances presented by the SensoriuM, a collaborative participatory art platform in Montreal, Quebec. In doing so, she shows how the SensoriuM makes public through curatorial and dramaturgical practice. By making public, she refers to the active translation of materiality into representational forms, and also to the assembling of humans and non-humans in participatory performance. Doonan describes the concrete audiences bounded by the live events, as well as the more amorphous and immeasurable publics that are brought into being through the circulation of texts, including digital images, videos, and oral presentations. Drawing from science and technology studies and more-than-human geographies, she explores “epistemic publics,” or the animal, organic and machinic configurations that come into being in the process of creating (objects of) knowledge. Doonan analyzes two specific performances: Midsummer Mile End Foraging Tour and Hunter, Gatherer, Purveyor to show how these processes of making public are enacted. Both performances use food as a medium to complicate and undo binaries of public/private, self/other, domestic/wild, depressed/revitalized. The meanings and uses of particular places are brought into question through embodied and symbolic means. Doonan argues that these performances work to de-design the city by queering its dominant discourses and creating intimate spaces of exchange.

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