Hiving: Aesthetic Sociality, Living Forms, Forms of Living, A research symposium

Convened and imagined by Sarah Richter and co-sponsored by the Tisch Initiative for Creative Research and the Department of Performance Studies

What can social insects – and a keystone species no less – teach us about the aesthetics and ethics of social life? How can their capacities to build teach us about our own performances of sociality? “Hiving: Aesthetic Sociality, Living Forms, Forms of Living” assembles a diverse set of scholars, performance artists, scientists, and beekeepers to think through the bee hive or nest, engaging concepts related to collective reproduction, aesthetic sociality, domestic infrastructure, and feminist plenitude. Studies of bee life in the natural sciences have emphasized that the hive and the particular social life of the bee – elaborate communication methods, egalitarian distributions of labor, intractably collective dependence, and altruism – evolve in tandem, with social life and the domus as entangled. Together, we aim to sustain an inquiry about the relationship of the form of the hive to the sociality of the bee, thinking them as inseparable. In bee life, the hive is simultaneously an infrastructure and a body, a living organism and a storage site, a thing to be defended and the means and ends of reproductive labor, and an ongoing, collective, highly aesthetic collaboration. In thematizing “hiving” as an expansive field of inquiry, we are driven by a beyond-human interest in what animals might teach us about the intersections of the natural sciences, performance studies, animal studies, and anthropology. Can we think of the hive as the collective performance of aesthetic sociality, both an activity and an infrastructure which offers us openings into the politics of feminist assembly, the potentials of socialized reproduction, the relationship of animal studies to aesthetics, and the general field of human-animal-ecological entanglement?


Barbara Browning is a Professor of Performance Studies at NYU, award winning novelist, dancer, poet, and musician. She is the author of a number of ficto-critical books, including I’m Trying to Reach You and The Gift, both of which won a Lambda Literary Prize, as well as The Correspondence Artist, and Who the Hell is Imre Logbrog?, co-authored with Sebastien Regnier. She has also published two academic books: Samba and Infectious Rhythm. Browning continues to tool away on her ukulele, over-producing and distributing saccharine cover tunes. She also tours in the traveling duo Imre Logbrog et Sa Petit Amie. Browning is a founding member of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory.

André Lepecki is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. He is editor of several anthologies on dance and performance theory including Of the Presence of the Body (2004), and Dance (2012). An independent performance curator, he created projects for Haus der Kunst Munich, Hayward Gallery, HKW-Berlin, MoMA Warsaw, and the Sydney Biennial 2016, among other venues in Europe, Brazil, and the US. He is the author of Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement (2006) (translated in 11 languages), and Singularities: Dance in the Age of Performance (2016, Spanish Translation forthcoming 2019). In 2008 he received the AICA award for Best Performance for co-curating and directing the authorized 2006 redoing of Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, a commission by Haus der Kunst Munich, later presented at PERFORMA 07. 

Fred Moten is a Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, where he teaches and conducts research around black studies, poetry, and critical theory. He has published a number of books on those fields of inquiry, including In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, The Undercommons, co-authored with Stefano Harney, and a three volume collection of essays titled consent not to be a single being. He has also written a number of poetry books, of which the Little Edges, was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the The Feel Trio was a finalist for the National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the California Book Award for poetry. In 2016 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry by the African American Literature and Culture Society. He actively collaborates with artists Wu Tsang, Boychild, Arthur Jafa, Andrea Geyer, and Arika. 

Sarah Richter is a Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies at New York University and recipient of the Paulette Goddard Award for Innovative Scholarship. She is the performance reviews editor at Women & Performance. 

Georgia Sagri is a performance artist based in Athens, Greece. Her work has been presented internationally at documenta 14, Kassel and Athens (2017); Manifesta 11, Zürich (2016); SculptureCenter, New York (2015); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2015); the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2014 and 2015), Kunsthalle Basel (2014), as well as the 14th Istanbul Biennale (2015), the Lyon Biennale (2013), and the Whitney Biennial (2012). In 2011 she was one of the main organizers of Occupy Wall Street in New York and since 2013 has been a member of the occupation of the Embros Theater in Athens. Her artwork persistently engages aesthetic sociality, political assembly, and collective embodiment. In 2014, she founded the semipublic, semipersonal project space ‘ΥΛΗ[matter]HYLE. 

Michael Thiele is a leading practitioner in the biodynamic and holistic apiculture movement, a bee-centric approach which calibrates beekeeping practices to the seasonal needs of the hive. He has been involved in the creation of honeybee sanctuaries since 2007; served as the biodynamic consultant for the USDA in 2013; and in 2017 created Apis Arborea, a beekeeping collective dedicated to rewilding and studying bees in their ethical, sociocultural, and spiritual contexts. Thiele has presented his research with honeybees while implementing educational workshops and programs nationally and internationally. He once lived with his family at the San Francisco Zen Center, where he was the beekeeper and received lay-ordination.

Further details forthcoming.