Professor Stephen Hodge
Head of Drama, Associate Professor in Live Art + Spatial Practices
I am Associate Professor in Live Art + Spatial Practices, Head of Drama and an active member of the Centre for Contemporary Performance Practices. I have taught on the BA Art History and Visual Culture, and am an adjunct faculty member of the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore, India, as part of the Exeter/NIAS split-site 'Intangible Histories' PhD programme. I am also the University Director of Arts + Culture.
I generate Practice-as-Research across a range of contexts, for example:
- Where to build the walls that protect us, ACE-funded, Kaleider commission (2013-14);
- 4 x 4 Screens, Live Art Development Agency commissioned DVD (2013);
- The Master Plan, Book Works/Situations (2012);
- Slarristokaupunki, ANTI Festival, Finland (2009);
- for piano solo, National Review of Live Art (1994).
I am a core member of Wrights & Sites. Formed in Exeter, 1997, Wrights & Sites are four artist-researchers (Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner) whose work is focused on peoples' relationships to places, cities and walking. We employ disrupted walking tactics as tools for playful debate, collaboration, intervention and spatial meaning-making. Our work, like walking, is intended to be porous; for others to read into it and connect from it and for the specificities and temporalities of sites to fracture, erode and distress it. We have sought to pass on our dramaturgical strategies to others: to audiences, readers, visitors and passersby. The outcomes of our work vary from project to project, but frequently include site-specific performance, Mis-Guided Tours (e.g. Stadtverführungen in Wien, Tanzquartier Wien and Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, 2007), published Mis-Guides (e.g. A Mis-Guide To Anywhere, launched ICA, London, 2006), 'drifts', mythogeographic mapping, public art (e.g. Everything you need to build a town is here for 'Wonders of Weston', CABE/Situations, Weston-super-Mare, 2010) or installations (e.g. mis-guided, Belluard Bollwerk International Festival, Fribourg, 2008), and public presentations and articles.
I am a resident at the Kaleider studio in Exeter.
I am well connected to industry, for instance:
- as Co-Director of REACT (Research & Enterprise in Arts & Creative Technology), one of 4 AHRC-funded Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy (a collaboration between UWE, Watershed, and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter);
- as Associate Curator (Live Art) at Exeter Phoenix (where I was formerly the Performance Curator for over 11 years);
- as a member of the New Theatre Architects, an ACE-initiated think-tank that seeks to challenge artists and organisations to think about new models of making and supporting theatre in England (2003 onwards);
- as a Live Art UK Associate;
- as a former board member or advisor to numerous organisations (e.g. New Work Network, Wide Awake Devon, Theatre Alibi).
Personal website: www.stephenhodge.org
I am open to discussing research proposals on any topic where I can add value. I am especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in the fields of contemporary practice, site-specific performance, live art practices or contemporary performance curation.
- William Platt, 'Subverting the Spectacle: A Critical Study of Culture Jamming as Activist Performance'.
- Sharanya Murali, 'Performing Ethnographic Encounters: Walking in Contemporary Delhi'.
- Kris Darby, 'Pedestrian Performance: An Unmapped Journey'.
Research through practice
The walker-architect: ambulant interventions as built environment
This is a Practice-as-Research project exploring a way of thinking about walkers and other itinerants, not only as users, critics or fleeting dreamers re-imagining the city, but as active contributors to the built environment and its development. Resulted in multiple interlinked outcomes across six countries.
Comprising walking experiments, physical interventions, public engagement activities, papers and articles, the research imperatives for the project were:
- Is walking really enough, theoretically or practically? Can we take our walking a step further? Not simply to pass through, but to change, to adapt, to leave and to take, to detourn and to transform.
- How might 'walking culture' contribute to architecture? When does the walker become an architect? And conversely, when does architecture go on a walk?
- Mis-Guided (2008), coauthored with Wrights & Sites (Hodge, Persighetti, Smith, Turner), BBI Festival, Switzerland. 'Mis-Guided' was co-produced with Belluard Bollwerk International, Fribourg (Switzerland), where it formed the backbone of the Festival in 2008. Six international artists were commissioned to intervene into the cityscape, and Wrights & Sites/BBI converted the former city train station into a Tourist Mis-Information Office where we organised a series of installations, talks, screenings, drifts and events. Hodge was lead representative in stakeholder discussions.
- 'Fragile Spaces' (2008-2009), coauthored with Wrights & Sites. R&D project comprised nine separate drifts, where the walking frameworks were all constructed to directly engagement with the physical environment of the city. These were not public-facing and modest in ambition, but fed subsequent PaR activity.
- Longshore Drift (2009), coauthored with Simon Persighetti. Six-hour constrained drift launching 'Living Landscapes' conference, Aberystwyth, followed by reflections during the conference's first panel session.
- 'The International Festival and the City Space' (2012), coauthored with Cathy Turner. Paper presented at PLAY: Relational Aspects of Dramaturgy conference, Ghent University, the Free University Brussels and the University College Ghent. Reworked for a forthcoming issue of Forum Modernes Theater.
- Before I compose a piece, I walk round it several times, accompanied by myself (2012), solo-authored exploration of Paris walking, the built environment and compositional tactics. Performance Research (17:2).
- Ambulant Architectures (2012), 100km walker-architect experiment coauthored with Wrights & Sites. As part of Trage Wegen's Sideways, a month-long itinerant festival that crossed Belgium, Wrights & Sites were commissioned to take a series of provisional, highly portable and flexible structures for a walk - experimenting with architectural intervention, prompted by curiosity, playfulness, resistance or need. The Ambulant Architectures were designed with a view to critically reconfiguring the various spaces along the 'Sideways' journey, by providing the possibility of demarcating, signalling, decorating, raising, celebrating, luring, containing...
- 'The walker-architect: disrupted walking and the city' (2012). One of two, linked, solo-authored, invited papers (the other by Cathy Turner) presented at the Second Cities EU network 'Performing Cities' symposium in Hellerau, Dresden. Curated by Patrick Primavesi (Leipzig University) and Anna Bründl (Hellerau).
- 'The Architect-Walker: Manifesto and Manifestations' (2013). Co-authored (with Wrights & Sites) paper for the On Walking conference, co-hosted by The University of Sunderland and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. The conference sat alongside a touring exhibition, '40 years of art walking from Richard Long to Janet Cardiff' (2013-2014), which also featured work by Wrights & Sites.
Everything you need to build a town is here
This multiple-sited, permanent public artwork is a Practice-as-Research project exploring walking, regeneration and built environment. Additionally, it generated a Radio 4 interview, a-n feature, curators' tour, fine art publication/talk, OUP chapter and feasibility study.
Drawing on Wrights & Sites' walking practices to respond to the changing fortunes of a British seaside town's fabric, the research imperatives for the commissioned work were:
- What role can performance and peripatetic practices play within the context of regeneration-driven 'permanent' public artwork?
- In contrast to single-sited monumental public art, what strategies might be developed for a more viral engagement between public art and the everyday built environment?
- Everything you need to build a town is here (2010) - public artwork by Wrights & Sites (Hodge, Persighetti, Smith, Turner). Hodge (Wrights & Sites' lead) undertook nineteen reconnaissance visits, and made delegated decisions with curators, local authority, funders, designers, foundry, contractors and media. Commissioned as part of Wonders of Weston, produced by Situations and Field Art Projects, featuring international artists including Tim Etchells, Lara Favaretto and raumlaborberlin. Funded as part of a £951,447 Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment award.
- Hodge represented the programme's artists in a:
- The Master Plan (2012) - commission for Architecture and the Built Environment funded, solo-authored, artist's book for fine art publishers Book Works - instead of producing a planned illustrated guide to the 'Wonders of Weston', the programme curators commissioned this publication from Hodge - taking verbatim a found copy of 'Weston-Super-Mare. A Garden City by the Sea. The Master Plan.', the 'Transcript of Shorthand Notes Taken by H. G. Venning' at a 'Meeting of Townspeople Held in the King's Hall, Friday, January 24, 1947' as a backbone, Hodge constructed an illustrated palimpsest of marginalia focusing on the theme of regeneration - launched alongside paper and discussion with Situations curator, Claire Doherty, at Whitechapel Gallery, London as part of The London Art Book Fair.
- 'A Stratigraphy of Place: Everything you need to build a town is here', coauthored chapter with Wrights & Sites for OUP's The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World (2013).
- Commissioned concept/feasibility study (with Wrights & Sites) study for a new, trail-based, permanent public artwork for a post-industrial (former copper and arsenic mining landscape) section of the Tamar Valley Area of Natural Beauty (with curatorial input from Plymouth Arts Centre) (2012).
2ND LIVE: exploring live performance in the Second Life® world
This is a Practice-as-Research project exploring space and event across Second Life and Real Life environments, through a programme of Arts Council England commissions and a solo-authored performance commissioned for ANTI Festival, Finland. The project also generated an article, seven papers and a three-day Knowledge Transfer workshop. Hodge curated, creatively produced and mentored the ACE-funded programme ('2ND LIVE') and created a commissioned performance ('SLaaristokaupunki'), which referenced a body of interdisciplinary spatial Practice-as-Research and new research into virtual worlds. Methods and practices were drawn from choreography, computer animation, architecture, musical composition, games design and walking art.
The research imperatives for the project were:
- What can be learnt through the transference of Real Life performance practices into a Second Life context?
- How can we construct space and event in order to exploit the potential of the virtual environment, rather than attempting to mimic everyday dynamics?
'2ND LIVE' (2008) - ACE-funded programme of commissions and 'Scratch' events, hosted by Exeter Phoenix:
- Third Life, with Richard DeDomenici (October 2007).
- Viral Duets, with Niki McCretton and National Centre for Computer Animation (February 2008).
- A Study in Reflexive Architecture, with Jon Brouchoud (December 2008).
- The Second Death of Caspar Helendale, with Jessica Curry and Dan Pinchbeck (December 2008 - reworked 2009 for Royal Opera House).
- 2ND LIVE: Shaping Space and Event in a Virtual World, Contemporary Theatre Review, Volume 20 Issue 2, May 2010, pp. 223-232.
Seven papers (2008-2011), for:
- '2ND LIVE: Island Version 2.0', PSi #14: INTERREGNUM - In Between States, University of Copenhagen (August 2008).
- 'REGION_FLAG_BLOCK_TERRAFORM' (invited hour-long keynote), Art - Site - Audience, Tramway, Glasgow (September 2008).
- '2ND LIVE: Virtual ASBOs, Viral Duets, Reflexive Architecture & The Death Of An Avatar', Performing Presence: from the live to the simulated, University of Exeter (March 2009).
- 'A Second Space for Performance', Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference, University of Plymouth (September 2009).
- 'The walker architect - Reflexive Architecture', Inhabiting Adaptive Architecture workshop @ International Conference on Adaptive Architecture, Building Centre, London (March 2011).
- 'FromTo' (invited paper), From Black Box to Second Life: Theatre and Performance in Virtual Worlds, University of Hull (May 2011).
- 'Material Alternatives' (invited keynote), Symposium on the Dramaturgies of Telematic Theatre, Central School of Speech and Drama, London (June 2011).
- SLaaristokaupunki, commissioned for ANTI Festival, Finland (2009).
- Avatartist 2.0 (2008), KT workshop for Live Art Development Agency / Arnolfini.
The research impetus for this practice-as-research project lies in Wrights & Sites' increasing number of conversations with city architects and planners, including Jan Gehl, the Danish architect and academic whose practice is centred on 'life between buildings'.
'Rethinking The City' is a series of provocations, aimed at rethinking/replanning the 21st Century City through performance-related walking practices, papers and presentations. It comprises:
three co-authored events at 'Everyday Walking Culture' (the sixth international conference on walking in the 21st century, organised by Walk21, with the support of the City of Zürich, Building Department of the Canton of Zürich, Swiss Federal Roads Authority, Federal Office for Spatial Development, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Health Promotion Switzerland, Federal Office of Sports (Magglingen), Swiss Federal Office of Energy, Hamasil Stiftung Schweiz, Swiss Pedestrian Association) (Zürich, September 2005)
- 'Walking Arts & Performance' - a day-long, pre-conference workshop for international artists, co-curated by Stephen and Phil Smith
- A Manifesto for a New Walking Culture: dealing with the city - a co-authored plenary paper delivered to full conference
- Mis-guided in Zürich - mind the MAP - a co-authored guided walk/performance for an area of a city never visited before.
- A Manifesto for a New Walking Culture: dealing with the city - a co-authored article (transcript of Zürich plenary paper) in Performance Research (ISSN: 1352-8165, Issue 11.2, 'Indexes', June 2006)
- Exeter Everyday - a week of day-long festivals exploring the ways in which people remake the city through action on a daily basis - funded by Exeter Arts Council (Exeter, July 2006)
- a series of research drifts, co-authored by Stephen Hodge and Berlin-based, walking artist, Daniel Belasco Rogers - one of seven Arts Council England funded projects (£30,000 total) generated by the eight members of the New Theatre Architects and going under the umbrella title 'What is a theatre? Where is it and how do you get there?' - initiated in 2003 by David Micklem, former Theatre Strategy Officer at Arts Council England's national office, the thinktank seeks to challenge artists and organisations to think about new models for making and supporting theate in England - four artist pages emerged from the research drifts, and are with the editors of Performance Research (ISSN: 1352-8165, Issue 12.2, 'On The Road', June 2007)
- 'Simultaneous Drift (4 walks, 4 routes, 4 screens)' - a co-authored, performance-lecture, accompanied by split-screen video documentation of a simultaneous drift, commissioned by Situations, part of the Place Research Centre at the University of the West of England, in association with Arnolfini and the University of Bristol (Arnolfini, Bristol, October 2006) - [ view transcript ]
- three guided walks/performances exploring filmic representations of Soho for Living Streets, the Pedestrians Association (London, November 2006)
- Stadtverführungen in Wien, a co-production with Tanzquartier Wien and the Vienna Festival - concept development based on the company's principals of mis-guidance and mythogeography; co-curation with an expert jury from the spheres of sociology and urban planning (Anette Baldauf), cultural philosophy and anthropology (Professor Herbert Lachmayer), composition and music (Bernhard Lang), and architecture (Bärbel Müller); leading workshops and coaching sixteen selected artists, resulting in 145 tours of Vienna over a three-week period; creating a thirty-minute performance-lecture for the project launch (October 2006-June 2007) - [download the German brochure as a PDF file ]
Except where stated, this practice-as-research project is co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner).
'Possible Forests' is a body of practice-as-research aimed at transferring Wrights & Sites' practices of urban exploration, surrealistic derambulation, mis-guidance and spatial planning from the city to the trees.
Working in partnership with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (in Haldon Forest Park, which the Forestry Commission is in the process of replanning), the project comprises a number of interlinked elements:
- 'Forest Drift', a day-long, public, exploratory drift within the bounds of the forest, exploring the Forestry Commission's new walkways, overgrown tracks and desire paths (September 2006)
- a series of documented reconnaissance drifts/dialogues (discussing ways of experiencing, re-imagining and planning the forest landscape) with specialists in eight different fields, including architecture, Jungian psychology, choreography and computer software design - each drift followed by a session in which the specialist and Wrights & Sites construct new plans for the forest (Spring & Summer 2007)
- a split-screen DVD video documentation of a simultaneous drift in the forest by the four core members of Wrights & Sites (Summer 2007)
- a public exhibition of maps, texts and video at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World's forest base (September 2007)
- a day-long symposium and practical workshop, bringing together Wrights & Sites, the partner specialists and the public (September 2007)
- DVD-ROM documentation of the constituent elements, constructed by Stephen Hodge working in consultation with Peter Hulton of the Arts Documentation Unit (Autumn 2007)
Except where stated, this practice-as-research project is co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner).
A Mis-Guide To Anywhere
120 pages, ISBN-13: 9780954613013, April 2006
The research impetus for this practice-as-research publication was the interest in An Exeter Mis-Guide beyond the bounds of the city of Exeter. The research imperatives were to:
- find ways to adapt the site-specific practices of An Exeter Mis-Guide for generic application (to explore connections and differences between local and global, personal and communal, here and elsewhere/anywhere)
- consolidate long-term research (walking experiments funded by the Centre for Creative Enterprise & Participation in Manchester, Milton Keynes, Copenhagen, Paris, New York, Zambia, and other locations around the world)
- produce a tool in the form of a book that could stimulate further activities/collaborations between Wrights & Sites and partners in other locations
It was equally co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner). It was funded by Arts Council England (£18,000) and the Centre for Creative Enterprise & Participation (£10,000), and launched at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Directly associated research-based outcomes:
- 'Mis-Guiding the City Walker', a co-authored paper for 'Cities for People' (the fifth international conference on walking in the 21st century, organised by the Centre for Public Space Research, the Realdania Foundation, Walk21 and Copenhagen X), (Copenhagen, June 2004)
- lectures and workshops (Central School of Speech and Drama, Loughborough University and The Red Room, 2004-2005)
- 'Mis-Guided To Anywhere', a co-authored exhibition and two-day workshop for Urbis, the museum of the city (Manchester, November 2004)
- 'Subverting the City: A Mis-Guide to Milton Keynes', a short documentary on Wrights & Sites made by Optimistic Productions for Channel 4's '3 Minute Wonder' slot (Milton Keynes, January 2005)
- 'The Mis-Guide Project', a solo paper by Stephen for the 'Site Recited' panel at the National Review of Live Art (Glasgow, February 2006)
- 4 Mis-Guided Tours (one by each author) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, April 2006)
- 4 Screens #2: A Mis-Guide To Anywhere, a co-authored multi-media installation edited by Stephen for PSi#12: Performing Rights, hosted by Queen Mary, University of London, in collaboration with East End Collaborations & the Live Art Development Agency (London, June 2006)
- 'Dislocation dislocation dislocation: Mis-Guided walking in the company of Wrights & Sites' - a forty-five minute, solo presentation by Stephen for 'Liverpool Live 06 - a festival of urban apparition' - commissioned by Bluecoat Arts Centre and the Live Art Development Agency as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2006 (Liverpool, October 2006)
As with An Exeter Mis-Guide, the book has been used to teach across a range of disciplines, from Performance Studies at Tisch School of Arts (New York University) to Design Studies at the University of Otago (New Zealand) and Geography at the University of Manchester.
- sample pages
- 'Wri(gh)ting Walking', a review by Fiona Wilkie in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art - PAJ 86 (Volume 29, Number 2), May 2007, pp. 108-112
- other reviews
- example citations:
- buy the book from Amazon
- buy the book from the Centre for Performance Research
- buy the book from Unbound (@ Live Art Development Agency)
An Exeter Mis-Guide
96 pages, ISBN-13: 9780954613006, September 2003
This practice-as-research publication is the result of three years of disrupted walking by Wrights & Sites, using the city of Exeter as their laboratory. Through extended drifts, alone and with invited individuals/groups, at different times of day/year, the research process aimed to:
- playfully explore/challenge existing spatial models generated by municipal organisations, the heritage and tourism industries, different academic/artistic discourses, etc.
- generate a series of frameworks for activities in specific sites and landscapes within the city of Exeter, allowing the writer and walker to become partners in ascribing significance to place
It was equally co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner). It was funded by the Local Heritage Initiative (£8,338), Arts Council England (£4,000) and Exeter Arts Council (£400).
Directly associated research-based outcomes include:
- a co-authored commission by the Courtauld Institute of Art , London for the two-year exhibition of international artists, 'East Wing Collection 06 (Urban Networks)', 2003-5: the work comprised four mapped walks (1 by each author) - [ view page 1 ] - [ view page 2 ]
- a contribution to The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel, 2005 (one of Stephen's walks from 'An Exeter Mis-Guide' was case-studied as one of forty examples of experimental travel)
- 'On An Exeter Mis-Guide', a solo paper by Stephen for the 'Live Art Symposium', Newlyn Art Gallery (September 2003)
'An Exeter Mis-Guide' has been taught in a number of university theatre/drama departments (including Roehampton, Lancaster & Glasgow). Its focus on spatial practices means that it is also taught across disciplines, for example, in the departments of Geography at the University of Durham, Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, Art History at Shanghai University (China) and Cinema & Media at Carleton College (Minnesota, USA).