Regine Herbrik



Play Space Symposium





Prof. Dr. Regine Herbrik
is an assistant professor at the Leuphana University Lüneburg. She conducts research in the field of the communicative construction of imaginary worlds, for example in the area of play and game and religion. At the moment, she scrutinizes medium-range, normative concepts, such as love and sustainability, that she reads as powerful, normative, social fictions.




The realization of the imaginary and the derealization of the real in BDSM being a playing fiction
Die Realisierung des Imaginären und die Irrealisierung des Realen im BDSM als spielender FiktionRegine-WS

Play Space Lecture
This lecture is only presented in German language

So many that happens between individuals is surprisingly little clear to them: emotions, imaginations, dreams and power constellations are closely connected to the imaginary. Therefore they are sometimes only indirect accessible via simulated, artistic-objectifying or playing practices. Nevertheless, there seems to be an anthropological basic constant and a desire - even a compulsion - to express ourselves, to make the invisible visible, to experience the abstract and to communicate the ineffable.

During the lecture, I will show that and how we, in BDSM, make the imaginary experienceable via things, symbols, actions, cloths, language and the positioning of bodies in a room. This seems to be one of the main concepts of BDSM as a social practice. An abstract concept, such as power, can become bodily experienceable in the powerlessness of fixation, it is visualized in symbols such as fetters and it manifests itself in audible verbalized commands.

At the same time, it shall be shown, how in return the real is derealized and with this becomes newly negotiable and interpretable. In addition, emotions and affects, such as loneliness, anger or anxiety, become present in an excessive and fictionalized manner that allows an intense and, at the same time, distancing experience.

The structural precondition for this productive schizophrenia of realization and derealization is provided by the epistemology and action pattern of play and game. While playing, our awareness produces an astonishing performance. In play we are aware of the frame „this is just a game“. At the same time, we bracket and temporarily forget this knowledge to immerse in the game and be a decent player. Play and game is therefore not just a harmless “as-if”. It mediates in an unspectacular way different realities and life worlds with each other and tolerates their ambivalences instead of levelling them interpretively.

In this sense, game and play is well suited to create a frame for the processes of presentation and derealization in BDSM. The limitation that it introduces via its rules of the game allow freedom in the space between the boundaries. Game and play mean as well “ludus” - the game that follows rules, but also “paidia” - the play that breaks rules and creates new ones.


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