What is “a just situation”? Proposal for JUST SITUATIONS

This is a proposal for a convention entitled “JUST SITUATIONS”  written by the co-organizer (with Leili Huzaibah) Esther Neff 

PROPOSAL SUMMARY: In the form of a so-called “convention” taking place over the course of 8 days, persons will be invited to performatively situate “just” situations, or to situate justices, justly. Herein, the term “situation” is synonymous with the term “performance.” Further, this convention is qualifying the term(s) “just(ice)(ly)(ification),” which are intended to be situated and materialized directly in and as performance.


When situations are framed as “performances[1]” and/or assumed to be performable as performed by persons, an assumption arises that at least some elements of a defined situation are staged, intentionally structured, or otherwise considerately constructed.

Although such stagings, intentions, structurings, and constructivities may be quite open, flexible, or simply initiate a sequence of reforming/reformable intentions, questions, or suggested activities, the assumption that “this situation is a performance” and expectation that “this situation will be performed” implies agency; there is some sense that persons are purposefully defining potentials and possibilities for senses and perceptions of being situated within a (un)certain timespace, ways of seeing/being together/acting/intra-acting, as if located by some focused “site.”[2]

In other words, senses and perceptions held by persons, that they are situating and/or being situated, are caused by their own attentional bracketing of a period/placement in timespace. In other words, initial assumptions, attentions, and intentions directly materialize some site for performance as sensible activity/activation in timespace and as “in”(sight/site) in ever-proliferating ways.

For this particular mode of situating situations, an overarching “convention” (operating as an apparatus or device) supplies the very first intention or motivating agency: JUST SITUATIONS, as a situation itself, proposes that its own situations—via their ways of situating/becoming situated—intend to situate some forms of justice. Further, that the defined elements of staging, intention, structuring, activation, relationship, and construction which situate are themselves particularly oriented around performing justly: performances comprising JUST SITUATIONS should be intended and designed, first and foremost, to become “justly,” perhaps primarily considering equity, arbitration, relational, flexible, adaptive and “respectful” forms of interaction, access, and agency, as interpreted and theorized generatively by performers/situators. “Just” forms of situation may attempt to materialize, theorize, speculate, position, locate, posit, describe, demonstrate, and define “justice” as an “in-formation” towards situating particular situations[3].

Definition of elements is performed in the form of a proposal, plan, or score: this initial defining performance materializes anticipations, intentions, and expectations for “a situation.”

Traditional defining elements include who, what, when, where, and why and relationships between these: for how long, beginning when and how, ending when and how, how do people decide to enter the situation and how might they be involved, forms of inter and intra-action, and especially stated intentions for situating on the part of those situating the situation, including forms of activation and involvement, materials and matters involved including persons and their shared (though perhaps differentiated, hierarchized, distributed, diffracted, or emergent) foci during a defined situation.

Foci might be described as tasks, actions, processes, activities, goals, objectives, processes, agendas, inquiries, or other specialized considerations and qualities.

How are such foci used to order, organize, construct, position, locate or otherwise situate a particular situation? Does an authorized person, say “the artist” instruct other persons present to engage with a series of questions, a task, or action? Are persons expected to engage in an assumed way with a presented array of materials, say to eat a buffet that has been cooked and spread out? Are persons presented with an ongoing activity and expected to decide whether or not to participate along the lines of their own interpretations of what is being enacted or what is happening? Is a lecturer presenting their own ideas and asking other persons to consider or debate a proposed point? These questions focus on definitive elements, answering how a particular situation is situated.

These hows may be ideologically, ethically, and politically (intra)related with definitions and theorizations of justice. Is it “just” to authorize a single performer and de-authorize a “mass bodily” of passive/receptive audience? What kinds (if any) of instruction, inscription, direction, rules, norms, laws, or stated expectations may be seen as “just”? Is this performance “fair,” “legal,” “enabling” “respectful” (or whatever)? For whom and why or why not?

By convening different forms of situatednesses, JUST SITUATIONS hopes to access and agentially realize some “roots[4]” of political, social, cultural, intra-personal, identified, material, and internal/subjective matter(s) of being and becoming. Furthermore, by suggesting “justice” as a primary consideration during performance of situation, perhaps one may hope to subvert dominant primary considerations, including qualifications and valuation schemas situating/reproducing capitalist forms of economy and consciousness, white supremacy/whitenesses, cis-hetero normativities, hegemonies, existing legal systems and modes of discipline and judgment, and many other deontic and ontological “injustices” seeming (variously, as seen and experienced) to situate (various forms and types of) suffering.

Do we begin with the type or form of suffering and devise foci which subvert or draw attention away from the elements we see to be situating that type or form of suffering?

Do we begin with an ideal or utopic vision of a “just situation” and begin to explore and test foci and structural elements which we hope may situate this so-defined justice?

Do we propose a particular foci or site which we believe is necessary to the construction of situations we define as “just”?

Do we simply reject or resist forms and foci of previously-experienced situations which we have perceived and sensed to be “injust” and see where we are?

How else may we formulate, construct, define, deliberate, delineate, stage, design, and otherwise intentionally situate some “proposed-as just” practices, actions, processes, or interactions?




[1] whether or not (additionally) as “art” or other “artificial,” “modeling,” “presenting,” re-staging, framing, or timespace delineated by attentions, in this case, as bracketing in some intentional ways from “ongoing general performativity” via intentions to convene, or construct a convention over the course of 8 particular days in July, 2017, in particular place(s)


[2] defining “a site” is far more difficult than “a situation,” as situatednesses may involve emotions, attractions, mentalities, beliefs, (dis)abilities, and other extremely complex, personal, and fluxuating dynamics of sensation and perception; one could argue that every “individual” is “a mobile site” from which attentions and intentions are projected, one could argue that “a site” is shared or collected envisionings (as with “theater” and this word’s Greek etymology meaning “site for sight”), one could define “a site” by historical context, cultural identity, political affiliation, or by any other delineating mark conflating meanings with matter(s) of attention.


[3] we may practice such attempts to “situate justice” while acknowledging the radically subjective, confusive, indeterminate, exploratory, intra-active, theoretical, experimental, and inquiry-driven natures of such attempts: Discursive analysis, noting of some affects and consequences of embodiment, and some attempts to compare intentions to implications is presumed by the overarching JUST SITUATIONS Convention: in a sense, proposing a just situation is the attentional and intentional situation of the convention.


[4] see Angela Davis: “the word ‘radical’ simply means ‘grasping things at the root’”


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