A Tactical History of World-Building(s): IV Castellanos’s Homage to an Activist Tripod


  • Esther Neff CUNY Graduate Center, New York City




social sculpture; queer theory; social construction; historicization; world history.


This paper tests theoretical tools developed to frame social construction, historicization, and speech-action as performance on IV Castellanos’s social sculpture Homage to an Activist Tripod. How can one say that a temporary, collective, non-representation yet intentional collective performance matters to and as ‘world history’? What constructive agencies do different theoretical frameworks provide performance-as-art and other Othered and otherwise ‘non-productive’ world-building practices? Written from the perspective of a participant in the performance, which paid homage to water and land protectors, the structure of this paper builds analogies between theorization and task-based performance, between theoretical spaces and political action, demanding structural integrity and ethical coherence within and between constructivities.

Author Biography

Esther Neff, CUNY Graduate Center, New York City

Esther Neff is the founder of PPL, a thinktank for opera-of-operations and performance philosophy.  PPL’s work has been performed in NYC, across the USA, and in Berlin, London, Copenhagen, Lima, and across spheres, taking forms of labor union, sociology study, natural history museum, and relational tour. Neff’s writing has appeared in the Routledge Companion to Performance Philosophy, The Palgrave Macmillan Handbook of Queer and Trans Feminist Performance, in PAJCAESURA, Performance Philosophy Journal, CONTENT, ICE-HOLE, Performance Paradigm, and elsewhere. The book Institution as a Verb, culminating PPL’s 7-year stint as a lab site in Brooklyn, was published last year by The Operating System, and the “operating manual” for PPL’s user-generated opera Embarrassed of the (W)Hole is available from Ugly Duckling Presse. Neff is currently a PhD student at CUNY Graduate Center and an adjunct at Hunter College.


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How to Cite

Neff, E. (2023). A Tactical History of World-Building(s): IV Castellanos’s Homage to an Activist Tripod. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (30), 83–103. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i29.555