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ANNE TERESA DE KEERSMAEKER WORK/TRAVAIL/ARBEID ROSAS & ICTUS 20.03 – 17.05.15 WIELS BRUSSELS

This book was printed on the occasion of the exhibition Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid at WIELS, Brussels (20 March – 17 May 2015)


Foreword Dirk Snauwaert. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Vertiginal Force/ Exhibition as Work Elena Filipovic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 Basic phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Basic spatial evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Taking the Time for Time: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Interviewed by Elena Filipovic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Biographies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Colophon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 6

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Vertiginal Force/ Exhibition as Work Elena Filipovic What would it mean for a dance piece to perform as an exhibition? That is the question at the origin of Work/Travail/Arbeid, a specially commissioned new project by the choreographer-dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Straightforward as it may seem, its implications unsettle how both contemporary dance and the art exhibition are conventionally thought, constructed, and experienced. After all, the apparatuses of the theater and the museum remain so distinct, from their spatial arrangements and institutional significations to their expectations and protocols. Dance performances are traditionally presented for a fixed duration, on a stage, before a seated, frontally facing audience. An exhibition, on the other hand, presents artworks in a space available for viewing during public opening hours, over a duration of several weeks or months, where visitors enter and exit at will. The reconceptualization of what a live choreographed piece could be if subjected to the conditions of an exhibition formed the basis for De Keersmaeker’s development of Work/Travail/Arbeid. When the invitation reached her, De Keersmaeker was at work on her Vortex Temporum, set to the eponymous 1996 musical work by the late French contemporary composer Gérard Grisey. It premiered on stage in October 2013. As she knew too well, a dance piece treats time (of the spectator, and also of the performer) in terms of the experience of a performance’s defined beginning and end. Whereas an exhibition—traditionally static and unchanging, once it opens—could perhaps never be experienced (and might never need to be so) for the entirety of its duration. This fundamental difference between the time of the black box and that of the white cube prompted De Keersmaeker’s decision to make Vortex Temporum—an oeuvre, as its name implies, specifically concerned with time—the foundation for Work/Travail/Arbeid.

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ANNE TERESA DE KEERSMAEKER WORK/TRAVAIL/ARBEID ROSAS & ICTUS 20.03 – 17.05.15 WIELS BRUSSELS

This book was printed on the occasion of the exhibition Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid at WIELS, Brussels (20 March – 17 May 2015)


Foreword Dirk Snauwaert. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Vertiginal Force/ Exhibition as Work Elena Filipovic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 Basic phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Basic spatial evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Taking the Time for Time: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Interviewed by Elena Filipovic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Biographies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Colophon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 6

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Vertiginal Force/ Exhibition as Work Elena Filipovic What would it mean for a dance piece to perform as an exhibition? That is the question at the origin of Work/Travail/Arbeid, a specially commissioned new project by the choreographer-dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Straightforward as it may seem, its implications unsettle how both contemporary dance and the art exhibition are conventionally thought, constructed, and experienced. After all, the apparatuses of the theater and the museum remain so distinct, from their spatial arrangements and institutional significations to their expectations and protocols. Dance performances are traditionally presented for a fixed duration, on a stage, before a seated, frontally facing audience. An exhibition, on the other hand, presents artworks in a space available for viewing during public opening hours, over a duration of several weeks or months, where visitors enter and exit at will. The reconceptualization of what a live choreographed piece could be if subjected to the conditions of an exhibition formed the basis for De Keersmaeker’s development of Work/Travail/Arbeid. When the invitation reached her, De Keersmaeker was at work on her Vortex Temporum, set to the eponymous 1996 musical work by the late French contemporary composer Gérard Grisey. It premiered on stage in October 2013. As she knew too well, a dance piece treats time (of the spectator, and also of the performer) in terms of the experience of a performance’s defined beginning and end. Whereas an exhibition—traditionally static and unchanging, once it opens—could perhaps never be experienced (and might never need to be so) for the entirety of its duration. This fundamental difference between the time of the black box and that of the white cube prompted De Keersmaeker’s decision to make Vortex Temporum—an oeuvre, as its name implies, specifically concerned with time—the foundation for Work/Travail/Arbeid.

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ESSAYS BOJANA CVEJIC´ ANDRÉ LEPECKI BRIAN DILLON CATHERINE WOOD DOUGLAS CRIMP

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Afterword Elena Filipovic .................................................................3 Dance in Earnest: On Time and Attention in Work / Travail / Arbeid Bojana Cvejic´ ...................................................................9 Co-Imagining Work / Travail / Arbeid André Lepecki.................................................................27 The Curve of Time Brian Dillon ....................................................................45 The Still Point Catherine Wood ..............................................................63 Relocating Rosas Douglas Crimp.................................................................81 Biographies ......................................................................104 Colophon .........................................................................106

This volume is published on the occasion of the exhibition Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid at WIELS, Brussels (20 March – 17 May 2015)


Afterword Elena Filipovic

Nothing prepared us for what Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Work/Travail/Arbeid actually was. That it should be an exhibition at all was the conceptual and discursive thrust of more than two and a half years of discussion, planning, and rehearsal. But if it can be that “feelings are facts,” as Yvonne Rainer puts it, we also often face the disheartening verity that concepts are not (always) reality. I daresay that the full implications of the thought experiment that was danced choreography and performed music in an art space, treated in every possible way as an exhibition, were not at all evident beforehand to anyone involved—not the choreographer, the dramaturge, myself, the art institution, or the various other partners. Not even to the dancers and musicians who were to carry it out. Among the many things that it came to be, Work/Travail/Arbeid was an analytic operation. It offered up choreography in perhaps its most painstakingly constructed, rigorous, geometric, and generous form, while also dissecting, as if on an operating table, a single dance piece—and simultaneously the whole idea of an exhibition— in order to reveal the undergirding conventions, protocols, and expectations of each. It turned out to be as revealing to its public as it was to its makers. To begin with, despite the stringency with which it was written and rehearsed, its ultimate form kept evolving right up until the exhibition opened and even beyond. The temporal delirium that Gérard Grisey’s music creates prompted its own temporal shift. Vortex Temporum, which lasts about an hour as performed on stage, at first was to become, as Work/Travail/Arbeid, a nine-hour cycle; this was eventually stretched even further into a twelve-hour cycle, either way a duration intentionally out of sync with the usual (seven) opening hours of WIELS. The initially proposed cast of seven dancers and six musicians plus a conductor became two casts of dancers and several alternates alongside the primary cast of six musicians and two conductors. The increased number of collaborators ensured the

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Dance in Earnest: On Time and Attention in Work /Travail /Arbeid In the following text, I would like to draw out the expanse of thinking that arises from, and along with, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreographed exhibition Work/Travail/Arbeid. I have been involved in the making process of this work as more than just an observer, so these thoughts are far from disinterested, and may even come across as immodestly gloating. Without shying away from complicity, my intent is to unfold a kind of post hoc dramaturgy of the problems and ideas that are sometimes actualized in choreography and at other times remain virtual, though for all that, no less operative in the creation of Work/Travail/Arbeid. As they make themselves present in deferred action, in the wish to prolong the effect of one’s experience after the exhibition, these ideas pose recurring questions on the horizon of what we might hope that dancing in the museum can undertake today. Notes are the form in which I wish to venture them.

From Theater to Museum The recent, and historically recognized as the second, performance turn in the visual arts after the 1960s and 1970s has brought dance into modern and contemporary art museums and galleries on an unprecedentedly large scale in terms of public visibility, curatorial endeavor, choreographers’ interest, and, lastly, attendance. Much of the critical attention reveals a quid pro quo on unequal terms whereby choreographers and dancers are grateful for being sought out to make visitors “move,” stay longer with an exhibit, challenge

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ANDRÉ LEPECKI

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Co-Imagining Work/Travail/Arbeid Given the explicit link Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker establishes between the long duration of her piece Work/Travail/Arbeid at WIELS and its relationship to labor, I decided to engage, for one day, in my own labor while at the exhibition.1 I proposed to spend an entire day as close as possible to the piece, writing alongside its unfolding, and then to organize my thoughts as they emerged in the process of living the experience of that work for the first time. When the workday was over—for the dancers, the musicians, and myself— I would go to the lower level of the building and read whatever I had written during that day to an audience. It is crucial to clarify that co-imagining Work/Travail/Arbeid was not at all an exercise in “giving my impressions” of the work, nor was it in any way an exercise in poetic improvisation or reactive participation. Rather, I see co-imagining as naming a rigorous approach to the modalities of imaginations proposed and triggered by an artwork, one that acknowledges and embraces the fact that these imaginations belong also to the realms of the theoretical and the critical. I first thought of this expression, “co-imagination,” when someone asked me some three or four years ago what, in my opinion, was the task of the dance dramaturge. Confronted with such a question, it occurred to me that—given the fact that the dance dramaturge does not author or co-author the work he or she is involved in, does not perform in it, and usually doesn’t take credit for any specifically visible element in the work—what we can say is that, at the very least, dance dramaturges certainly work alongside the work-to-come, that they are constantly co-imagining with the choreographer, the dancers, and other collaborators what kind of images are potentially embedded in each scene, gesture, atmosphere, sound, concept, or choreographic idea. This is the first time I have tried to activate this procedure in order to produce another kind of work: a piece of writing on/with a

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CATHERINE WOOD

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The Still Point At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where. And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time. T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,” The Four Quartets In September 2013, satellite cameras for Google Earth recorded hitherto unseen images of huge swirling eddies in the South Atlantic Ocean, off Guyana. These vast vortices, which appear to be rotating clockwise, intrigued scientists because of possible similarities between their behavior and that of black holes in space: anomalous areas of space-time density that can suck matter into their cores and disappear it, while at the same time particles move around the periphery in closed loops. Such oceanic vortices have become visible to us only by virtue of our technological capacity to look at our “whole Earth,” as conceptualized in the late 1960s through NASA imaging, from outer space. Our knowledge of the solar system, our galaxy, is deduced through theorization of its cycles, repetitions, energies, and forces of attraction. And yet, new research yields mysterious parallels between the behavior of water on the Earth’s surface and behavior observable in distant space, deepening questions about the precarity of our position on the surface of our planet. The vortex is one of our galaxy’s recurring patterns, appearing in liquids and gases, in plasma, in the atmosphere of Jupiter, and in the wind movements around tropical cyclones. For her exhibition of live dance titled Work/Travail/Arbeid, staged at WIELS in 2015, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker made the decision, in a reimagining of an earlier piece titled Vortex Temporum that

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had been made for the stage, to take her dance away from its conventional setting in the theater and put it in the gallery. At the same time, she chose to unmask the place-less and time-less theatricality of the white cube while setting her dance in relation to an idea of “outside.” She asked technicians to dismantle the whitepainted MDF walls that had—since the gallery’s opening in 2008—covered up the windows of its ex-industrial building. Their removal revealed large square glass panes down each side of the space, opening it to the fluctuating illumination and shadows of each day’s waxing and waning sunlight. To accommodate the dance that would take place each day—an unfolding sequence of solos, duets, trios, quartets, and more performed to a score during opening hours, organized within a looping, twelve-hour cycle—a gray wooden floor was installed, creating a smooth plane stretching from wall to wall. The remaining walls were left white, apparently untouched. The only objects introduced into the space were two simple, round office clocks, one on the wall of each part of the divided floor, and, hung underneath each clock, some pieces of neon-colored string to be used by the dancers for measuring and marking chalk circles on the gray ground.

that give the effect of stretching and compression, expansion and contraction, in harmonics and tempo. Three “archetypes” feature in the conception of its tempo, according to Georges-Elie Octors: the “time of the humans” (related to breathing and the heartbeat), the “time of the whales” (a sense of expanded time), and the “time of the insects” (“inhumanely rapid,” a “whirlpool of time; the time that contracts itself”).2

Work/Travail/Arbeid was conceived according to a layering of cycles, repetitions, energies, and forces of attraction—between dancers, musicians, and the public as witnesses—and a deliberate mismatching of cycles between opening hours (11:00 and 18:00) and the twelve-hour span of the piece. At WIELS, De Keersmaeker boldly displaced her dance from the black box to the white cube, but in doing so she sidestepped two specific brands of theater: that of the typical proscenium architecture, and the less obvious one implicit in the “eternity of display” of the typical gallery space. Work/Travail/Arbeid extends the original piece in manifold ways. Vortex Temporum is set to an eponymous composition by Gérard Grisey, a sextet for piano, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello that lasts forty-five minutes in total. Grisey’s music progresses in incrementally rising and falling-back loops and is structured according to systems of rotation that include “repeated arpeggios and their metamorphosis in various transient passages.”1

Music has long been a defining structure for De Keersmaeker’s dance, a crucial aspect of her emphasis on form, ever since, as Bojana Cvejic´ relates, she “derive[d] choreographic principles” from the early phase of Steve Reich’s music for Fase in 1982, for example, “the implications that more straightforward processes of repetition, variation and gradual phase shifting could have when translated into dance.”3 She developed her own choreographic writing further in relation to Reich through key works such as Drumming (1998) and Rain (2001). Making her mark significantly after the postmodern dance experiments of the 1960s, such as those at New York’s Judson Dance Theater, De Keersmaeker chose to reinstate a relationship between dance and music’s forms and rhythms that had been deliberately severed or at least fundamentally challenged by her predecessors—to reinstate the possibility of finding ways to move what she describes as the architecture of the body within and around both classical and contemporary music’s complex patterns. Rather than illustrate music with movement, or invent movement directly after musical form, De Keersmaeker works, in this new piece especially, within the sliding scales of possibility available in and around its structure: the half-spaces between the musical intervals of scored sound, and between the gestural intervals of a dance vocabulary. But neither dominates nor subsumes the other. Seen close-up in exhibition format, broken down from the flow of the picture view of the theater stage, this nuance is made exquisitely manifest in our close encounter with its construction, and enmeshed in our own explicitly embodied perception of it. De Keersmaeker also dramatizes a physical relationship between the activities of playing instruments and dancing.

The music, described as “spectral” in composition, is characterized by the use of quarter tones and micro intervals

At the same time, evident in her extensive body of score-drawings, precisely mapped out in ink on paper, as lines and text, there is a Next pages: Sonnensystem, 1845-50, 29.6 x 35.8 cm, steel engraving of the solar system published in Meyers Handatlas by Hildburghausen, Bibliographisches Institut.

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PHOTOGRAPHS ANNE VAN AERSCHOT BABETTE MANGOLTE HERMAN SORGELOOS


ANNE VAN AERSCHOT


HERMAN SORGELOOS


Biographies Anne Van Aerschot Anne Van Aerschot studied communications and theater at KU Leuven. It was in her role as an assistant to the video artist Walter Verdin that she first encountered Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance company Rosas, where she started working full time in 1992. From 2003 to 2008 Van Aerschot combined the job with a photography course. The first De Keersmaeker performance she was responsible for photographing was the 2010 creation 3Abschied. In 2013, Rosas published What Appears in the Darkness and Disappears in the Light, a photo book featuring pictures taken by Van Aerschot. She was also the set photographer for the film recordings of Élève libre (2008) and À perdre la raison (2012), both directed by Joachim Lafosse. Babette Mangolte The French American artist Babette Mangolte is an experimental filmmaker also known for her photography of dance, theater, and performance work. Born and raised in France, she studied cinematography in the 1960s at the École nationale de photographie et de cinématographie; she was one of the first women to be admitted to the school. As a cinematographer, director, and photographer, Mangolte was a protagonist of New York’s 1970s minimal dance, experimental theater, and performance art scenes. In her early photographic work she focused on an intellectually and artistically invested style of performance documentation, interacting through her still camera with such artists as Richard Foreman, Robert Whitman, Stuart Sherman, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Morris, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, and Sylvia Palacios Whitman. From the start, Mangolte also did groundbreaking camera work, notably for the director Chantal Akerman in Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), and with the performance artist Yvonne Rainer for her films Lives of Performers (1972) and Film About a Woman Who ... (1973). In 1978 she directed the legendary dance performance film Watermotor, shooting the solo of the minimal dancer Trisha Brown with a special dramatization of filmic time. She is currently editing the feature-length film she shot in April 2015 of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s WIELS exhibition Work/Travail/Arbeid. Herman Sorgeloos Herman Sorgeloos studied film and photography at the Sint-Lukas Institute in Brussels. In 1981, he debuted as a theater photographer for Jan Decorte’s Mauser/De Hamletmachine, and he would later design several sets for Decorte. His collaboration with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas began in 1984. He made sets for Bartók/Mikrokosmos (1987), Ottone Ottone (1988), Stella (1990), Mozart/Concert Arias. Un moto di gioia (1992) Toccata (1993), 3 Solos for Vincent Dunoyer (1997),

and more. He has also worked with Jan Ritsema, Tom Jansen, Alain Platel, Fumiyo Ikeda, and Benjamin Verdonck. He has worked closely with the director Josse De Pauw as a scenographer, most notably for Raymond (2012), Escorial (2013), and House (2014). He has recently been collaborating regularly with Pieter De Buysser as well, notably on Landschap met springwegen (2014) and Immerwahr (2015).

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Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid  

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid - pages from the 4 books collected in a box

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid  

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid - pages from the 4 books collected in a box