In search of pure duration: an autoethnographic Journey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In attempting to understand Henri Bergson’s notion of ‘pure duration’ - that which “excludes all juxtaposition, reciprocal externality, and extension” (Bergson, 1903/1999, p. 26) - I reflect on my autoethnographic exploration of three durational performances in which I speculated upon the transformative potential of re-conceptualizing the passage of time as Bergsonian duration. Heewon Chang’s (2015) assertion that “autoethnography should be ethnographical in its methodological orientation, cultural in its interpretative orientation, and autobiographical in its content orientation” (p. 208) suggests a triadic balance of ethnographic analysis, cultural interpretation, and self-narratives. In my approach to performance analysis from a spectator’s perspective, my intention was to maintain this balance. This paper outlines my use of autoethnography as a research method and the kind of embodied understanding utilized for performance analysis. How to report on this embodied knowledge and practice, rooted in the senses rather than the mind is one of the perceived problems of ethnography, as it is “an intensely sensuous way of knowing” (Conquergood, 1991, p. 180). Embodiment of experience and its recollection through memory were key factors in my exploration of these performances; I aimed to convey the embodied experience through written text in a way that privileged the authorial voice. The emancipatory potential of autoethnography became apparent through this process and, at its most potent, knowledge was found through ‘being’, thus embodying an understanding of Bergsonian duration. Thus, I make the case for autoethnography as a powerful method of performance analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2018
EventThe Artist Researcher in Performance: Situating Artistic Inquiry in Research Design - University of Bedfordshire, Bedford, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jun 20187 Jun 2018


ConferenceThe Artist Researcher in Performance
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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