Postmodernity’s Vertigo: Chance and Increase of Contingency in Performance and Film


Peer-reviewed article (together with Isabel Exner)
ilinx – Berliner Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft


Since early modernity, art, philosophy, and science have appropriated the potential of disorder inherent in chance as a principle of innovation. In contemporary aesthetic discourse, turbulences of chance are operationalized by artists for their critique of causality, calculability and subjective command of action, and bear a radicalised signature.

On one hand, in line with Gilles Deleuze, a dissolution of hierarchies is pursued in postmodern performance art, e.g. in Xavier Le Roy's Projekt (2003) that indirectly celebrates chance as a playful principle of intervention. On the other hand, elsewhere in the contemporary aesthetic discourse, the frightening power of chance is articulated and escalated. In Ethan and Joel Coen's post-apocalyptical thriller No Country for Old Men (2007), chance appears as a protagonist, that manifests itself through uncontrollable outburst of violence and a cruelty of the absence of reliable order.

The article examines these two contemporary aesthetic articulations of chance as manifestations of an aleatoric culture and the transformations of subjectivity therein, that go along with an increase of contingency.


chance, exponential increase of chance, contingency, performance, film, Joel and Ethan Coen, Xavier Le Roy.

Bibliographical information

313 pages, edited by Sebastian Gießmann, Anna Echterhölter, Rebekka Ladewig and Mark Butler. ISBN 3865725880. Price: €14,00. Philo Fine Arts, Berlin 2009.


© — Claudia Marion Stemberger 2019