Performative Diagrammatics: An Artistic Exploration of the Relation Between Epistemic Diversity and Systemic Elasticity

GPS 4.1 is out, an online, peer-reviewed journal, including my essay about The Braid and Performative Topologies. I am very excited about the ability to include video clips in the body of the text. 

Illinois Arts Council Fellowship

May 5, 2021. I am happy to share that I was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, in the category of Performance-based Art, New Performance Forms. 

Performance Studies international – Constellate

In June and July 2021, the newly formed PSi Working Group Performance & Pedagogy will convene two sets of three online workshops as part of the Constellate events, to investigate permutations of the question how knowing in performing shapes performance pedagogies and the institutions that house and deploy them. You can find out more here.


On August 13., 14., and 15., as part of the “Neighbourhoods” stream of PSi Constellate, there will be three opportunities to explore “Micro-Practices for a New Gentleness”, through an online Performative Diagrammatics Lab.  The full Constellate line-up is here.


The Braid: Moving Across Dimensions from Representation to Performativity


The Braid: Moving Across Dimensions from Representation to Performativity.
In: Birte Kleine-Benne, Ed (2021). Exploring Dispositifs. Logos Verlag Berlin.
I tell the story of how the BRAID Instrument came about, emerging from conversations with artists, intersections with readings, and explorations in prototyping sessions, and how it can be used in facilitated workshops and beyond.
With contributions in English and German. Contributions in English include texts by Adrian Piper (2019), Lucy Lippard (1997), Andrea Fraser (2005), and Luis Camnitzer (2017). Contributions in German include texts by Elke Bippus (2020) and Birte Kleine-Benne (2018/2020).


Practice Sharing: The Braid + Performative Topologies

December 2020: I am happy to share that I contributed to Practice Sharing — an online presentation of expanded approaches to language-based practice within the field of artistic research 

Practice Sharing is now launched — an online presentation of expanded approaches to language-based practice within the field of artistic research. Over  70 individuals and collaborations are included in this first ‘sharing’: See

The intent has been to reflect on how language-based artistic research is practised in its diversity rather than to define or determine. As such, the focus on language within artistic research is considered from a broad and transforming perspective to include diverse fields such as visual arts, performance, film, theatre, music, choreography as well as literature; where language-based practices might include (as well as move beyond) different approaches to writing, reading, speaking, listening.

Contributors were invited to respond to an open ‘call’ outlining their specific approach with one or two examples from their own artistic- or practice-based research — focusing on specific language-based ‘practices’. The 70 chosen submissions have been ordered alphabetically such that the reader may search by name or explore each contribution within the immediate vicinity of other contributions to allow for chance acquaintances, unexpected resonances and aleatory connections.

Rather than a definitive or exhaustive archive or survey of the field, this exposition hopefully provides a starting point from which future conversations and collaborations might emerge.

Practice Sharing will continue to evolve through future calls and contributions. Conceived and co-organised by Emma Cocker, Alexander Damianisch, Cordula Daus and Lena Séraphin, this Special Interest Group (SIG) in Language-based  Artistic Research* is part of an initiative of the Society for Artistic Research which provides contexts for coming together via the exchange of language-based research.

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The Braid as structuring device in Art, Engagement and Economy

Throughout an online book, Art, Engagement and Economy, produced in 2020 as part of a fellowship at Moore College of Art and Design, Caroline Woolard uses The Braid’s sections – make, mediate, manage –  as a structuring element, and explains why in an introductory section.

2020: postponed, in progress, publishing

2020 has seen conferences, workshops, and residencies postponed, and this cycle is continuing into the first half of 2021. The Performance Studies international conference in Rijeka, at which we had intended to newly convene the Performance and Pedagogy group I now co-lead, was postponed and is expected to be virtual next summer. A Micro-practices for a New Gentleness workshop and a paper on this most recent work were also invited to be part of one of the conference streams. A teaching assignment at the Bauhaus University Weimar, the third in a series and also intended to continue work on Micro-practices for a New Gentleness, may need to be postponed a second time.

This year, chairing my department at the School of the Art Institute since May has been almost all-consuming, but it also is work I love to do. When I was developing a program in Digital Arts Administration during my last round as a chair (that was not realized at the time), I did not anticipate we would all be digital arts administrators now.

At the same time, writing projects emerged and are now variously in press, nearing completion, and in review. With Daniel Quiroz, I am co-editing an issue of CSPA-Quarterly, called A New Gentleness, and I thank Moe Beitiks for the invitation. It allows me to see how (much) we ask of each other from yet another perspective. An essay about The Braid is part of a book that has grown to include contributions in German and English, Dispositiv-Erkundungen, jetzt, (‘Dispositif’ explorations, now) edited by Birte Kleine-Benne and Elke Bippus. I am telling the story of The Braid’s emergence from my (faulty) diagram of Karen Barad’s “Posthumanist Performativity”, becoming a diagrammatic instrument that opened the doors to understanding performance as part of my work, eventually posing a challenge to perform a transition between world views. A text about discovering Vilem Flusser’s writing, called Stalking the Continuum,  will be republished in an Anthology, Understanding Flusser: Understanding Modernism, edited by Aaron Jaffe, Michael F. Miller, and Rodrigo Martini. Two more texts, about Performative Diagrammatics and Performative Topologies, are in various stages of peer review.

A multi-year grant I was a co-applicant for was awarded to my colleagues in Canada by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. They are working on Cultural Mapping the Opioid Crisis in Small Cities in British Columbia, and I look forward to contributing in time

Workshop: Micro-practices for a New Gentleness

1:00 – 2:00, Saturday, January 25, 2020. Index Art Book Fair, Mexico City.  “Micro-practices for a New Gentleness” is a prototype-stage co-creation workshop, developed in Chicago by a constellation of international and interdisciplinary collaborators with art, design, music, and mediation backgrounds.


The facilitation instrument is a hybrid, multiple-publishable object. A small number of copies will be available at the Index Art Book Fair, January 23-26, 2020.

Organizer Adelheid Mers is bringing to the Index Art Book Fair a facilitation instrument that aims to bring meta-communication into play through talk mixed with choreographic, full-body gestures. This is only the second public presentation of this material, after the workshop at the Vilém Flusser Archive in Berlin earlier this month. Your participation and input are invited.

Workshop: Micro-practices for a New Gentleness

Saturday, January 18, 2020. In the frames of Vorspiel / transmediale & CTM programme, the Vilém Flusser Archive presents the workshop “Micro-practices for a New Gentleness” by Adelheid Mers (Performative Diagrammatics Laboratory)

mers_figures.pngOrganizer Adelheid Mers is bringing to the Flusser Archive a prototype of a facilitation instrument that aims to bring metacommunication into play through talk mixed with choreographic, full-body gestures. Following a brief, introductory explanation, your participation and input in a facilitated interaction are desired. Together, we may gain insights into how conversation works. In German, English, and any language you may contribute. All abilities welcome. Attendance limit 15. Please register via

Exhibition and Workshops: Performative Diagrammatics Lab at Sullivan Galleries/w Saturday Club

August 28 – October 19, 2019

Performative Topologies and THE BRAID are included in the SAIC Faculty Projects Exhibition. Performative Topologies will be enacted at the reception, September 20. THE BRAID will be available for activation with classes Wednesdays through Fridays, during gallery hours.

The Performative Diagrammatics Lab adapts to site.  As part of this iteration, I will hold two, six-session Saturday workshop sequences, the Saturday Club. The workshops revolve around the following questions: 1. How to develop a tangible Crit Kit, and 2. How to devise Embodied Reading Tactics. Both questions address teaching as radical possibility. Dates are September 14, 21, 28, and October 5, 12, and 19. Please get in touch if you are interest in joining a workshop.

Saturday Club Dates

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In the Studio

August 2019

Enacting critique and enacting critical/affirmative methods in a conversation on leadership with Gerda Müller, University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna.

Conference Workshop: The Braid at PSI25

July 2019

THE BRAID will be activated in a workshop at PSI25, Calgary, Canada. Read the description.

Missing Scenes Workshop. Goat Island Archive.

June 2019

I spent three days with curator Nick Lowe, Sarah Skaggs and others, discovering fractal responses to the responses and the concept of the exhibition: “Goat Island Archive – we have discovered the performance by making it.”  +IMG_9825

Code Movement Workshop

May 2019

I am heading to New York for three weekends in May, participating in The School for Poetic Computing Code Movement workshop. This is session 1/3, in Nancy Meehan’s studio. Here are short video clips from the second meeting.

IMG_1330 3.JPG

Exhibition: Membrane

March 7, 2019 – April 20, 2019

With Jörg Brinkmann, Ursula Damm, Adelheid Mers, Rachel Smith, Moritz Wehrmann. Kunstverein Tiergarten|Galerie Nord, Turmstr. 75, Berlin. 

Opening: 7 pm, March 7, 2019 (German Info)

On view will be The Braid and Fractal-3-Line Matrix Whiteboards and related video documentation, and new Performative Topologies video work, developed with Robert Woodley. Performative Topologies were created in Chicago with Joseph Lefthand, Vero D. Orozco, Caroline Kawen Ng and other contributors,  and with a group of students at the Bauhaus University Weimar.

You are invited to join us at these workshops:

Saturday, 3.9., 5–7 pm: Performative Topologies, with Adelheid Mers, Joseph Lefthand, Vero D. Orozco and Caroline Kawen Ng

Thursday, 3.14., 5–7 pm: The Braid, with Adelheid Mers

Friday, 3.15., 5–7 pm: Performative Topologies, with Adelheid Mers

Thursday, 3.21. 5–7 pm: Fractal 3-Line Matrix, with Adelheid Mers

Friday, 3.22., 5–7 pm: Performative Topologies, with Adelheid Mers

Friday, 4.5., 5–7 pm: Performative Topologies, with Sarah Hermanutz and Ruo-Jin Yen

Tuesday,  April 16., 5–7 pm: Performative Topologies, with Maud Canisius and Sarah Hermanutz

About workshops:

Adelheid Mers’ diagrammatic templates are greatly condensed texts and conversations. Simultaneously they contain the invitation to unfold them performatively, experimentally and playfully. This is why workshops are a central part of this exhibition. Visitors will be introduced to the diagrams and invited to actively engage them.

Three workshop modules will be offered. The Fractal 3-Line Matrix is a two-dimensional tool that visualizes non-hierarchical forms of text interpretation. In the workshop we will probe the template’s multiple functions, using an example text. Participants will learn to implement and also adapt the methods contained in the matrix.

The module using the three-dimensional Braid template invites participants to synergistically assess conditions that impact their own professional practices. Participants from the cultural sector, for example artists, designers, theorists or administrators, may ideally work in rotating pairs, to gain and share new insights by comparing and inscribing their experiences into the Braid template.

The workshop module Performative Topologies is conceptualized as a game and movement lab. Differently from the preceding two workshops the initial engagement here is through a verbally shared algorithm. This module asks how the presentation of an imagined object under alternating perspectives (for example imagining, describing, sketching, performing) promotes a new understanding of one’s own ways to value personal experience. This module will culminate in a joint performance – a spatial diagram of sorts.

By contributing to a workshop, participants both support the artist in her ongoing research into Performative Diagrammatics and gain the opportunity to explore and share what often tends to be backgrounded in daily work and life – own ways of perceiving, valuing, thinking and representing.

Workshops take place in German and English. Participation is free.

Study Center for Groupwork: Video

March 2019

Talk: Performative Diagrammatics as Action Model

February 25, 2019

Walsh Arts & Sciences Seminar Series, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York. 

Artist and researcher Adelheid Mers uses diagrammatic means to probe artistic and communal processes of knowing and working. In her talk, she will outline her own action model, “Performative Diagrammatics”, through which she knits together her work in visual art and Cultural Management Studies. By contextualizing her mode of working with related models by theorists and practitioners across fields, such as Sociology, Ethnography, Performance Studies, and Psychology, she will show how the concept of action model itself can offer a foundation for interdisciplinary work, by connecting themes across the metaphors practitioners and theorists alike deploy to do their work. The talk will be bookmarked by two workshops,  “Using The Braid”, and “From Braid to Meta Crit Kit”. This visit was organized by Alex M. Lee.

Workshop: Performative Topologies – For an Art of Emigration

January 11, 2019

I offered a workshop at the annual conference of the Fachverband Kulturmanagement, University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna.

Description: Culture shock happens when a traveler returns home. To make the familiar seem strange is part of the role of art. What this workshop can do is to make familiar ways of thinking strange, by drawing on embodied knowledge. An art of emigration considers the value of de-familiarization to audiences, and ultimately to communication among co-located, but disparate constituencies. The workshop ‘Many Figures Form a Ground’ takes participants through a series of transpositions that mimic artistic processes of making things strange, through multimodal experimentation.

A team of facilitators will lead a 45-minute narrative and performative sequence that opens with a brief introduction, operates through facilitator prompts and mutual counsel among participants, and culminates in a simultaneous performance by all participants. The game sequence is to be followed by discussion and joint assessment of the experience, along with a theoretic contextualization that will elucidate diagrammatic concepts at work.


Performative Topologies at the Hyde Park Art Center Gala

November 16, 2018

Performative Topologies was facilitated by Vero D. Orozco, Joseph Lefthand and Caroline Ng. Giannella Tavano served as resident choreographer. Robert Woodley live transformed a 360º camera stream. Social Media feed by Gabriel Chalfin-Piney. More stills and video at:

There’s also more at the Continuum Tab on this blog.

In the Studio

November 10, 2018

Back in Chicago, a meeting to get ready for the first public presentation of Performative Topologies at the Hyde Park Art Center Gala. Robert Woodley’s topological video transformations will be applied and streamed live. Judith Leemann and Billie Lee happened to be in Chicago and joined us.

IMG_9021 2_Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 7.34.49 AMin torusJudith_Gabriel_small planet18-11-11 at 8.09.32 AM

Research in Vienna: Interview Methods

October 2018

Research continued in Vienna with gender studies theorist Doris Ingrisch. As part of a project funded through a grant from the University of Music and Performing Arts through which we are learning more about artist conversations, we met with two performance artists, Doris Uhlich and Gabri Einsiedl, and with two composer/musicians, Maria Gstättner and Stefan Heckel. (Next steps in January.)

Block Seminar at the Bauhaus University Weimar

October 2018

For two weeks, also in October 2018, the studio moved to the Bauhaus University Weimar, on the invitation of Professor of Media Environments, Ursula Damm. Here, a seminar was the context for continued work on the game. While the game had emerged and developed intuitively in Chicago over the summer, in Weimar we used the block seminar structure with its daily meetings to formalize the sequence of game prompts, observe performance iterations and bring in readings. We experimented with drawing the game figures, and started to dig ‘in between’ the steps of the sequence. With Sandra Anhalt, Maud Canisius, Tamara Conde,  Laura Giraldo Diaz, Vanessa Engelmann, Regine Elbers, Lara Hann, Sarah Hermanutz, Yen Ruo-Jin, Margarita Valdivieso.


We are beginning to dig into the transpositions that appear to occur in the gaps between steps.

In the Studio


With Vero D Orozco, Joseph Losinski, Sergio Mantilla, Laura Cardozo, Ed Diaz Trujillo,


We’re working out language – playing a game, making a game, devising game figures


Taking a bow


Later, playing with composites

In the Studio


With Vero D Orozco, Ed Diaz Trujillo, Giannella Ysasi

In the Studio


With Vero D Orozco, Joseph Losinski, Ed Diaz Trujillo, Caroline Ng

In the Studio


With Kenneth Bailey, Judith Leemann, Billie Lee, Poor Farm after party


Link to work we do together

In the Studio


With Tracie Hall and DeAmon Harges, comparing notes from the Artist as Problem Solver Convening, a follow-up meeting.

_IMG_6117_IMG_6126DeAmon was at the convening as “Roving Listener” and shared his observations and responses at the end. Here he reacts to a visual element of my response, one of a series of layered drawings. More about DeAmon’s work here.

The Gaze – this set of 20 drawings on transparent backgrounds is part of the response to the Artist as Problem Solver Convening. Here, digitized versions are randomly superimposed in groups of four each time the site is refreshed. The number of possible combinations is 20!/16! = 20 x 19 x 18 x 17 = 116,280. (Tap/click/Command R to refresh after clicking through to site)Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 10.55.08 PM

Artist as Problem Solver Convening, Joyce Foundation, Indianapolis, March 2018

IMG_5405 (1)

summary of convening notes


Convening notes as Fractal 3-Line Matrix

Read linear notes here

Convening participants and topics

In the Studio

Wearing the Braid

In the Studio


With Asha Veal, Nicolas Melo, Dio Aldridge, Walking the Braid.

In the Studio


With Asha Veal, Greg Ruffing, Walking the Braid. Prototyping a different activation of the Braid, a shift in perception occurred. From here on, performative aspects of the work, always already present in diagram uses,  now took center stage.

The Talking Whiteboards Studio Project

Summer 2016

Most participants in this project engaged The Braid whiteboard, exploring their own modes of working while taking cues from the categories it displays. The Braid diagram emerged earlier this year from my ongoing conversations with artists about their practices.


Posts 1, 2, 3, 4

Final Talking Whiteboards edits on vimeo channel 

How do you work?


Conversations with experimental musicians, composers, and visual artists about their practices, followed by my visualizations of the conversations. In turn, artist’s respond to the visualizations. Since conversations happen in many different places, some of the responses later take place long-distance. Included here are responses that took place in my studio, and in one case, at a studio I had use of during a residency.

Visualizations, seen on the wall behind the artists or musicians, come in two versions – a freely composed scenario (left), and text entered into a Fractal 3-Line Matrix (right). Responses tend to be offered in the artist’s own medium.

05_Mers_James Falzone feedback session

With James Falzone, who responded to visualizations of our How do you work? conversation. Shown is a composite image of documentation.

09_Mers_Ken Vandermark feedback session

With Ken Vandermark, who responded to visualizations of our How do you work? conversation. Shown is a composite image of documentation.

02_Mers_Tomeka Reid feedback session

With Tomeka Reid, who responded to visualizations of ourHow do you work? conversation, at the Roger Brown Studio in New Buffalo, Michigan. Shown is a composite image of documentation.

Klement composite2_flat copy

With Katharina Klement, who responded to visualizations of our How do you work? conversation. Also participating, Lynn Book. Shown is a composite image of documentation.

Mallozzi composite copy

With Lou Mallozzi, who responded to visualizations of our How do you work? conversation. Shown is a composite image of documentation. More about this conversation is published with Chicago Artist Writers, here.

duignan_composite copy

With Jim Duignan, who responded to visualizations of our How do you work? conversation. Also participating, Katya Balueva. Composite image of documentation. Shown is a composite image of documentation.

Eric Leonardsen

With Eric Leonardson, who responded to visualizations of our How do you work? conversation. Shown is a composite image of documentation.

More about the ongoing series of conversations, visualizations and responses.

In the Studio


Goat Island_North

Inaugurating the newly renovated studio space with a conversation about attending and engagement, with Lin Hixson, Matthew Goulish, K.J. Holmes and Sarah Skaggs, 1/27/2016

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