The Viewed Is Viewing the Viewer

Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis


  • Saulius Leonavičius Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania



performance, viewing practice, appearing, sacred gaze


Referring to Erika Fischer-Lichte’s distinction of the paradigms of presence and representation in performativity, the author discusses the features of the principles of the gaze and viewing characteristic of these paradigms. In his opinion, those performances in which the artist focuses on creat- ing the emergence of presence, allows for other viewing principles than those typical of a representational theatrical performance. For that purpose, he sug- gests inventing a means of viewing that would allow experiencing the invisible energy levels of a performance, and the meanings in which the signifier, the signified and materiality are not yet dissociated from one another.

The author aims to explain the multilayered character of “a sacred gaze”: a complex and complicated viewing determined by the relation between the mind and the soul, the subject and the object. A sacred gaze allows us to experience being viewed by the Other, and embodies sacredness thanks to the viewing itself rather than the image. The quality of the viewing rather than the image allows a material shape to become a prototype, and enables a material body to transform itself into a represented object. The sacred gaze is a practice fostered by culture and prompted by knowledge: to see is to know what you see. Talking about his performance practice, the author illustrates with con- crete cases three types of viewing: a hungry look, a covert look and non-seeing. He also discusses Martin Seel’s conception of appearing and David Morgan’s category of a sacred gaze. The aim of the article is a critical assessment of the possibilities of viewing practices in a contemporary performance, and offering alternatives for viewing based exclusively on the visible image.

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How to Cite

Leonavičius, S. (2021). The Viewed Is Viewing the Viewer: Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (99), 264–280.