Aliza Shvarts

Aliza Shvarts is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU, where she writes on figuration and failure. Her artwork, which achieved brief infamy when she was an undergraduate at Yale, explored similar themes. Currently, she is a managing editor of the performance studies journal TDR/The Drama Review.



"Mimesis, Metal, and the Politics of Doom"

Among some of the longer haired people I know, a question circulates that is both endless and imperative: is it metal? They never ask or seek to describe what metal is, but rather how something can have the quality of being metal—something like a t-shirt, or a car crash, or a vasectomy.

As a quality of things, a state of being, metal emerges from these dialogs as an ethic, a lived and embodied practice of an aesthetic concern. At what could either be construed as the more esoteric fringes or innovative core of the genre, this question constitutes metal’s very substance, posed by the music itself. One band whose music regularly and emphatically does this, and is perhaps emblematic of what posing such a question in a contemporary metal scene looks like, is the Los Angeles-based duo Sunn0))). Pioneers of drone metal, a subset of the already rarefied doom metal, Sunn0))) plays incredibly long, slow, and reverb-heavy compositions which invoke an understanding of aesthetics that, like the band itself, can be found at the esoteric the field’s canonical texts: in the bodily dynamics of recognition that inhere to Aristotle’s concept of mimesis, and in the figurative language of reproduction through which Longinus theorizes the Sublime.

Reading Sunn0)))’s performances through these archaic texts animates fugitive legacy of the aesthetic in which the figure was always implicit, a legacy we might call metal—a political repercussion of figuration in which bodies find pleasure in massive reverberation, and bodies reverberate en mass.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

11:15am EDT