Georges Perec and On Kawara: Endotic Extravagance in Literature, Art, and Dance

Leslie Satin


This article analyzes the work of Georges Perec and On Kawara, two artists who have radically recast our understanding of space and time in literature and the visual arts, through the lens of the author’s post-modern dance practice and scholarship. Both artists, deeply affected by the chaos of World War II, began working in the mid-twentieth century: experimental author Georges Perec (1936-1983), known for his affiliation with OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Literature), the organization founded in 1960 to ratchet up the possibilities for conceiving and creating utterly new, or ‘potential’, literature, and On Kawara (1932-2014), the Conceptual artist known for his large-scale recasting of personal and historical time, and his conversion of ‘private life’ into vast archives of documentary recording. The article looks both at spatial elements in the work of these artists, and at spatialized responses to their words and objects. It investigates Perec’s and Kawara’s divergent ideas of the everyday, as articulated through their practices—particularly their commitment to compositional scores and games exemplifying the ludic, and their insistence on the importance of seeing and noticing—and the implications of those practices, and the work they produced, regarding facticity, embodiment, self-representation, transformation, and, above all, the ongoing articulation of space and, by extension, time. Informed by work in human geography; affect, literary, and performance theory; and phenomenology, and by the writer’s experience in dance as a practice and area of scholarship, the article links these practices and ideas to those of post-modern dance to explore the fluid relationships among space, movement, bodies, and objects.


Georges Perec, On Kawara, space, everyday, endotic, practice, embodiment, ludic

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Copyright (c) 2017 Leslie n/a Satin