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Is The Living Body the Last Thing Left Alive? | Book Launch and Lecture Performances by Rabih Mroué and Manuel Pelmuș

Dec 9, 2017
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm


Para Site Pop-up Exhibition Space
6/F, Wing Wah Ind. Building, 677 King’s Road
Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Para Site is delighted to present two lecture performances by Rabih Mroué and Manuel Pelmuș respectively, accompanying the launch of Para Site’s new publication Is the Living Body the Last Thing Left Alive?: The New Performance Turn, Its Histories and Its Institutions.

The book, co-published with Sternberg Press and designed by Project Projects, New York, is expanded from the 2014 eponymous conference organised by Para Site, and is dedicated to the renewed encounter between dance and performance and the institutions of global contemporary art. Taking Hong Kong as a vantage point, this publication highlights recent efforts of art historians in different parts of the globe to retrace performance genealogies, exploring how non-Western histories of performance have been recuperated, translated, integrated, or excluded from the new institutional realities of contemporary art. The book includes eighteen commissioned essays and conversations which are case studies that examine the different facets of performance in both art galleries and public spaces; eleven artists/groups contribute inserts which create narratives that point out and extend the boundaries of what is possible in the paradigm of art and performance today. Is the Living Body the Last Thing Left Alive? proposes that a “new performance turn” has emerged and looks at its correlations with other shifts in practices, discourses, and broader society. The book is edited by Cosmin Costinaș and Ana Janevski.

On the occasion of the book launch, Rabih Mroué, a playwright, theater director and leading figure of artistic voices in Lebanon, will present a new lecture performance Sand in the Eyes which explores the image politics of Islamist recruiting videos. These videos are characterised by formats and image styles that correspond with popular viewing habits among youth growing up in Europe, while deliberately testing the limits of what one wants to see and stomach. Based on research material comprised of recruiting videos secured by the officers of the German Intelligence Services, Mroué asks not only what these videos reveal about their producers or the videos’s capacity to engage young people for the means of Islamist propaganda, but also questions the politics inherent in dealing with these propaganda videos from the point of view of the state and society.

Concurrent with his solo exhibition, Movements at an Exhibition at Para Site, Manuel Pelmuș will present a performative lecture reflecting on the role of performance artists in collecting institutions and their need to delineate their own concerns and systems of reference in regard to liveness. Following the lecture performance, there will be a conversation between Pelmuș and Cosmin Costinaș, curator of Movements at an Exhibition, to discuss the connotation of the exhibition and how the movements in the show are understood both as a grammar of dance and choreography, as well as how they are transformed into a representation of social action and protests.


The publication will be available for purchase at the launch event and sold at major art bookstores in Hong Kong, internationally and on-line.



The book has been made possible through the generous support of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Para Site Art Space is financially supported by the Art Development Matching Grants Pilot Scheme of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The content of these activities does not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Schedule of Events

17:00 – 17:30
Lecture performance by Manuel Pelmuș 

17:30 – 18:00
Cosmin Costinaș in conversation with Manuel Pelmuș

18:00 – 19:05
Lecture performance by Rabih Mroué

19:05 – 19:20
Q&A with Rabih Mroué, hosted by Freya Chou

19:20 – 19:30
Introduction of the book by Cosmin Costinaș and Freya Chou


Rabih Mroué (b. 1967) lives and works in Beirut and Berlin. He is an actor, director, playwright, and visual artist. He is also a co-founder and a board member of the Beirut Art Centre (BAC) and a theater director at Munich Kammerspiele, Munich. He is a fellow at the international research centre “Interweaving Performance Cultures”, Free Universität – Berlin, 2013-14. His recent exhibitions and performances include Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017); MAK, Frankfurt (2016); MoMA, New York (2015); Ashkal Alwan, Beruit (2015); SALT Beyoglu/Galata, Istanbul (2014); CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (2013); documenta 13, Kassel (2012), amongst others. He was awarded the Spalding Gray Award in 2010 and the Prince Claus Funds Award in 2011. 


Manuel Pelmuș (b. 1974) lives and works in Oslo and Bucharest. He is one of the leading artists of the “new performance turn”, who have been reimagining the role of performance in the context of visual arts over the past decade. Most recently, his projects were shown at Tate Modern, London and Tate Liverpool (2016); Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2016); Off-Biennale Budapest (2015 and 2017); Kyiv Biennale (2015); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2014); Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2014); Para Site, Hong Kong (2014); and Venice Biennale (2013), amongst others. He was awarded the 2012 Berlin Art Prize for performing arts and the Excellence Award of the National Dance Centre, Bucharest, in 2014.


Established in Hong Kong in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organization that seeks to foster and support Chinese arts and culture and to promote a deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings and their application in everyday life. In pursuit of that mission, the Foundation engages in strategic, long-term projects in Hong Kong and around the world to support efforts that make traditional Chinese arts accessible and relevant to different audiences. It also supports the creation of new works that brings innovative perspectives to the history of Chinese art, and that improves the quality and accessibility of scholarship on Chinese art. Guided by a belief that the insights of Buddhism have a vital role to play in approaching the challenges facing contemporary society, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has committed substantial resources to expanding the understanding, interpretation, and application of Buddhist philosophy. To learn more about The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation and its activities, visit www.rhfamilyfoundation.org

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