THE PAPER ISSUE 1
What I Think About When I Think About Dancing Paul GazZola
Extract from an unfinished modern opera Full print version will be part of the Campbelltown Arts Centre publication and event What I Think About When I Think About Dancing. This contemporary interdisciplinary project explores and responds to the shifting parameters and intersections of dance and other art practices by bringing together dance and visual artist, curators and scholars from across Australia and internationally to engage in residencies, performances, an exhibition and a publication. This text was one of many as part of a larger publication that responded to the provocation of - What I Think About When I Think About Dancing. The project will commence at Campbelltown Arts Centre in November 2009 (16 November 2009 – 3 January 2010) and is curated by Campbelltown Arts Centre’s Director Lisa Havilah and Dance Curator Emma Saunders. Libretto: Paul Gazzola Scene One: this is not a rehearsal. Open stage setting. Working lights on. As the audience arrives and sit down in the auditorium, 9 performers (P1 – P9) make their way onto the stage. They are wearing a range of clothes including – various coloured t-shirts, leotards, tights, jeans, sneakers, dance shoes, russian folk dancing costumes, tracksuits, shorts, overcoats, suits etc They wait till everyone has seated and the room goes silent As the lights fade they individually start to speak. Performer 1. I think about the history of dance. It’s a long history and one that i didn’t know much about till i watched a documentary the other night about it. P3. I think about the first moves i made when i went out dancing. It was quite a liberating experience, as something felt so right. P8. I think about all those years i spent doing pliés and that they must have done some good in my life. P1. I think about the hours i spent working on perfecting a movement only to see that it lasted for a brief moment in time. It seemed worth it though, even if i rarely felt i got it right on the night. Performing something perfected always seemed to evade me. Whilst i could appreciate it in all its detail, when something was slightly not quite right i felt more connected to it. Maybe i am a bit strange, but when i got it looking too good, i found it became less interesting to do. P5. I think about the way legs seem longer in tights. P7. I think about the fun people seem to have when they dance in couples. P2. I think about when i discovered food disorders in my first year at ballet school. I just did not get it? Here were all these fit and healthy looking young kids (mostly girls) and suddenly i discover they are starving themselves to look like the people in the pictures on the wall. I thought it was all so weird and realised later
that this was some catchy form of group madness as i also got the idea that to stop eating was a good thing. As if food should be something to be fearful of. It was like that in the supression of a major desire one could tame oneself and become your own master. P8. I think about jacki chan and all his moves. P6. I think about uma thurman and all her toes. P8. I think about david byrne and all those suits. P7. I think about the redheaded girl who weighed less than 45 kilos. P4. I think about the whole myth thing within the dance world that i never could come to terms with. All these people dreaming of their future on stage surrounded by others making out they are kings and queeens and there they are dancing around on their tip toes bleeding and in pain or with aching bones and joints. P2. I think about Elvis and all his moves. P1. I think about tom cruise and all his moves.
P6. I think about walking sticks.
P4. I think about christopher walken and all his stand ins.
P2. I think about the american influence on european dance.
P5. I think about the way people get all worked up about some choreographer’s work they don’t like.
P8. I think about how ballet still rules many peoples idea about what dance is.
P7. I think about the way it felt to move to music in the strangest ways ever.
P9. I think about bees.
P3. I think about dj’s that can keep people on the dance floor for hours.
P7. I think about the jackson five.
P8. I think about mirrors and get-
P8. I think about the way people still think i am a dancer.
P7. I think about the woman i knew who wore plastic bags on her legs to sweat more.
Table of Contents
P7. I think about how i like dance in a way that many other people think is strange. P5. I think about all the people who still take dance classes. P8. I think about the feeling of tight clothing. P9. I think about the amount of sweat that i produced on a daily level in studio 1. P7. I think about internal organs. P2. I think about the sound that an achillies tendon makes when it snaps.
P7. I think about the time i was told there was nothing for me in australia and it would be good that i went overseas. I did and that person was right at that time. Now things are different. P4. I think about the way i am still not sure what i think when i think about dance. P3. I think about dance marathons. P7. I think about getting drunk and dancing the night away. P2. I think about putting a record on and dancing alone in my kitchen.
P6. I think about realising that i finally wasn’t bad at something.
P5. I think about how i used to make out i could tap dance.
P8. I think about sugar supplements.
P8. I think about how a lack of rhythm can also be a good thing.
P4. I think about the way a song can clear a dance floor.
P9. I think about the years it took to get rid of my training.
P7. I think about cleaning a dance floor.
P3. I think about sway back legs.
P3. I think about the word tarquet as opposed to marley.
P6. I think about the division that still seems to surround the concept of what is dance.
P9. I think about wearing strange costumes in education dance companies.
P5. I think about how sooner or later people will just forget about this question
P4. I think about how the body lies.
P4. I think about how there is a big
question to what body is referenced when architects consider performative spaces. P8. I think about how asking the right questions are very important for the future.
ting lost in them. P7. I think about people that still get on the floor and shake their thing at age 80. P8. I think about not stopping till you get enough. P4. I think about the politics of dancing. P3. I think about feeling good.
p.1 COVER STORY Paul Gazolla: What I Think When I Think About Dancing
p.5 COMMENT Sally Gardner: Dancing with Russel Dumas
p.1-p.8 Flicker Book Aimee Smith: featuring dancer Jessyka Watson-Galbraith
p.6 SELF INTERVIEW Eleanor Bauer
p.2 EDITIORS LETTER Atlanta Eke
COMMENT Atlanta Eke: Blasphemy
OPINION Deanne Butterworth: Running Firstly With Dancing, Then Sitting, Then Talking
p.7 TRAVEL Eleah Waters: Golden Eggs and Baked Beans
p.3 CULTURE Mårten Spångberg: Its Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)
COLUMN Marten Spangberg: Who Has The Knowledge?
Deborah Hay: How I Recognize My Choreography?
p.8 INTEREST Marcus Doverud, Natilie Korger; Mythos and Heimat
Tim Darbyshire: Whats going on Down Here/There
Varinia Canto Vila, Sophia Tristana: Demolition In Progress
p.4. WISH YOU WERE HERE Mette Invargens Performance: Giant City Samsuðan & Co. Performance: Grease - the Deleted Scenes
Jan Ritesma: On PAF
INTERVIEW Atlanta Eke: Hoseph Shecter at The Den
During the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival a group of dancers and choreographers are producing a radical performance of a different kind. They are dancing the latest craze in pioneering choreographies, the configuration of a publication, a newspaper, The Paper!
mance to the Melbourne International Arts Festival and has adopted the intention to challenge notions of preconceived production agreements and rethink the established conventions of dance performance and production that no longer fulfill the capacity of what dance be.
The Paper was inspired by the production of The INPEX, The worlds first dance newspaper, produced by Swedens networking association Inpex, at the 2009 Impulstanz Festival. As illustrated by success of The INPEX in Vienna, we need not be subject to the streaming of information produced by the corporate media in order to manufacture our perception of the world.
Compared to the array of artistic mediums at the Melbourne International Arts Festival the dance component of has the least number of pieces programmed. The Paper is an addition to the five dance performances presented and its existence aims to further valorize the medium of dance in the act of producing and sharing writing.
Our motives are constructed on the philosophy that everybody is richer within an economy of sharing. Our actions are to serve the Australian dance community, to contribute to its ongoing nourishment through internationalization of knowledge, education, exchange of ideas and information to mobilize work through conversation. A well-nourished and flourishing community allows for growth and development, stimulation and activity. A healthy community is an attractive community with more potential to generate attention, and initiate curiosities and interests from the rest of the world.
The Paper, to be delivered to the Melbourne Festival, is a newspaper exclusively dedicated to dance that aims to incite and intensify communicative discourse in the sphere of contemporary dance and choreography on a global scale. To inscribe our own history and to pave the future of our artistic practices in dance The Paper provides an opportunity to take responsibility through a contribution to the construction of public opinion in our own field. Our incentives are fueled by the desire for a revitalization of the Australian dance community, cultivating an awareness of the global dance community at large and to produce a publication that generates international attention to the Australian dance and performance scene.
The Paper is an uninvited perfor-
The Paper also aims to ask questions about the rights of Australian dance makers to produce work that doesn’t simply imitate influential choreographers from abroad but instead engages them in an ongoing dialogue of translation, transformation and augmentation of knowledge production and distribution within streamings of information around the world.
Editorial Team: Atlanta Eke and Coco Eke
Contributors: Eleanor Bauer, Deanne Buterworth,
Varinia Canto Vila, Tim Darbyshire, Marcus Doverud, Mary Eke, Victor Eke, Cristal Eke, Woodrow Eke,
Sally Gardner, Paul Gazolla, Deborah Hay, Mette Invargsen, Nathalie Koger, Halla Ólafsdóttir, Lovísa Ósk Gunnarsdóttir, Jan Ritesma, Mårten Spångberg, Sofia Tristana, Eleah Waters, Jessyka Watson Galbraith The Paper was inpired by The Inpex www.inpex.se
Distribution If you would like copies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Running Firstly With Dancing, Then Sitting, Then Talking A platform for work in progress, First Run has been operating for about a year now. Originally an initiative of Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar, Abigail Sebaly, First Run is now co-ordinated and facilitated by dancers and choreographers, Luke George and Brooke Stamp. This bimonthly event happens on a Monday night with the support of Lucy Guerin Inc. The general format for the night is that there are three to four works shown- mostly offerings from people working in contemporary dance who want to share a new approach in their practice or present a rough and raw idea in the early stages of development. Following a small pause the participants, with wine glass in hand chat about what has happened. Having been a First Run participant a few times, as a person showing work and as an audience member I have experienced it as an evening where it has been driven by a nominated facilitator, and as a more autonomous event. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but it has been interesting to witness it shift over time and notice that there is a certain level of comfort now in giving good and bad criticism. What strikes me the most about First Run is the difference between a performance and a showing. Where is the line here? When does it change from the showing of a work in progress and become a performance? This is an obvious question, but what happens on these evenings once the post showing discussion very quickly develops from the ‘oh yeah I liked that that’, or the thought of, ‘shit I hated that , what will I say?’ and then into something more analytical, is firstly about witnessing a ‘performance’ and then about discussing choreographic choices and structure. So, is First Run fundamentally a performance event presented as a safe place for showing raw ideas? Most people who attend are performers, or create dance work, or go to dance classes, see performance, or are friends of those showing work so they have an idea about performance, or their notion of it. So it becomes really difficult to separate their process (and included in the process is the showing of work in the rough and raw) from the perceived performance outcome that everybody secretly desires- after all, isn’t this why we do it? Really? This is not new and nor it does not claim to be. First Run fills a gap (or creates a space), through offering time to interested artists to show and talk about work and receive criticism from those who witness it. It has the generous support of Lucy Guerin Inc (as it takes place at the studio) and it feels like a very special
place for observation and discussion existing in a world connected and conversely disconnected to organisational structure. Going to First Run is a completely supportive experience- movement in space and time in a lovely symmetrical studio close to the city. Lots of things have happened on these Monday evenings since the inception of First Run: Standing in silence, asking the audience to turn away from what they have come to see, showing emotion, asking about the definition of the end point, admissions of ‘I only made it an hour ago I don’t know what it is’, showing the bits that make up the complete picture or the incomplete picture, turning off the lights, turning them back on too soon, telling a story, moving slowly, attempting to be still, whipping oneself, admitting that we feel comfortable with adult themes and nudity, singing about love, amplification of the space around the moving body, being clear about what you want to do, improvising, attempting to piss in the mouth, shocking, not wanting to shock, filming the audience, being mundane, creating a non structure, talking and talking, etc. Actually the first thing that happens (since Luke and Brooke have been at the helm) has been a group activity. Start to understand the current space and time with your own body. The primary instrument you will see being used here tonight is THE BODY so you may as well start using yours right here right now, right? Sometimes we sit in a circle, we watch, mimic, move, see others in the room and notice who they are, observing their clothing, thinking about what job they might have just come from, or wondering who they know here. Maybe think we know them and what they might do, their likes and dislikes or what they might say later on. Movement is transferred from one body to the next and we watch this sequencing of movement and observe what has been left behind and which instructions have been misunderstood. Maybe we start to judge and separate the good from the bad. This all happens before we get serious about the structure of the ‘real work’. In First Run World we usually know the history of each person who shows work, who they have worked with and where they studied. Does it become a little about our knowledge of their dancing history and the wonder and anticipation of what they do next and the constant comparisons of this work to the previous and it’s similarity to blah blah. Usually there is someone who has more to say than the next person, and then there is someone who says nothing at all and only thinks about what they have seen without allowing others to know what they
thought. And then, there is the person who keeps quiet and right at the end they say, ‘oh my god I was completely shocked in that momentyou could have done anything to me I was totally scared and frightened and I did not know what would happen next’. Are we all too cool to not speak from a physical response? Was the guy who attempted to piss in his mouth later going to shit on the floor when he got down on all fours? Was the dancer preceding him going to walk closely towards us and not smile. Was she going to stop and look at us and show us more of herself than we had ever seen before? Was the first dancer going to let us in on the joke that she was smiling about as she danced? Oh wait, it was not a joke but something far more serious and worrying- an internality that only she could resolve but why were we watching this? What was it that everyone expected? The anticipation for newness was the drawcard. So where does it lead? We are all invited to gain a supremely invaluable insight into choreographic processes during the first run of something. We are permitted to ask questions about process and structure and through this we become aware of what it is that we like watching and what others like doing. We allow ourselves to challenge our existing personal preferences and begin to understand the way someone else watches and sees something that is not yet a performance. The next First Run happens in November 2009. email@example.com
Calendar 24.10.09 The Paper hosts a Festival After Party for the Australian release of the: The Swedish Dance History Book @ Misty Bar Hosiery Lane 9pm
It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)
How Do I Recognise My Choreography?
In 1989 James Bond and with him every spy lost their jobs. Without a cold war, with no Ivan and only one super power there was no need for a lonely man equipped with pre ipodgadgets, beyond the law but in her majesties service and with license to kill, that with a swift DIY gesture could resolve global conflicts.
The Solo Performance Commissioning Project began in 1998 at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, in the town of Langley, WA. It took place for ten days annually for five summers before it was relocated to the Findhorn Foundation Community in Scotland in 2004 where it has since been administered by Gill Clarke and staff from Independent Dance in London and by Karl Jay-Lewin of Bodysurf Scotland, at Findhorn.
dancer is not choosing to exercise the re-measuring tools needed to counter-choreograph the predominance of learned behavior. I use the words “choosing to exercise” because most of us know exactly what is required when we choose to train the physical body to adapt to a choreographer’s aesthetics. Training oneself in a questioning process that counter-choreographs the learned body requires similar devotion and constancy.
Of the eight SPCPs that have taken place, about 140 solo adaptations have been realized. I have been an audience member at only a few public performances. It is at these public showings, however, that I am coming to learn what xxxxChoreography: Deborah Hay xxxxAdaptation and Performance: [example: Lindsay Doe] means. This is how the credits appear when an adaptation is being performed.
Every dancer who learns one of my solo dances, signs a contract, committing to a minimum three months of practice before the first public performance of his/her solo adaptation. Three months is not an estimate. It is based on my experience with new material. In order to recognize all the ways I hold onto ideas, images, suppositions, beliefs, the ways my body attaches to what I think the material ‘is’, or should feel like, or look, I need to be alone in a studio, noticing the infinitely momentary feedback that arises from my daily performance of a reliable sequence of movement directions, influenced by the immediacy arising from the same questions day after day after day.
Times had changed and the spy, who for decades performed the character, the medicine man, to which we could assign complex political realities - as long as James was out there everything was cool - had made himself useless.
‘...a lonely man equipped with pre ipod-gadgets, beyond the law but in her majesties service and with license to kill, that with a swift DIY gesture could resolve global conflicts.’ With 1989 a strong political era came to a grand finale, but a new paradigm was already under cultivation and a new hero was needed: The Artist. Yes, the new James Bond was the artist, or rather the creative superhero always ready, packed with digital interfaces perfecting the versatile performance of neo-liberal subjectivity sipping ice cold Chardonnay at a residency in Switzerland. Indeed, there were no needs for performances anymore. The artist’s life instead depended on the production of anecdotes and the ability to commute between research projects and residency programs. Thus the work needn’t be to any degree original but the individual’s uniqueness was refined in absurdum, who in all modesty of course emphasized that he or she was not at all an artistah. And the word on every ones lips: collective. Collective, my ass!
‘And the word on everyones lips: collective. Collective, my ass!’ That’s correct, the artists were not to blame but like cattle they allowed themselves into the paddock of immaterial labor. Perform or else, became the watchword, and research
the collective obsession. For Christ’s sake, call the exorcist!
The researcher like the cowboy is always alone. From time to time he (yes, still male) has a sidekick or even a team, but he is at all times unaccompanied as he goes west – actually or metaphorically – to, after defeating superhuman convolutions, return to display - obsessed with representation - his foundings, may it be precious stones, an unheard of exotic tribe or a solution to an impossible mathematical problem. There was only one Neil Armstrong to a take that small step for man, a singular Steven Hawkins to receive the Nobel Prize. Two, three, five or ensemble is simply not part of effective production. How wonderful hadn’t it been if those astronauts, in perfect Ester Williams style, would have performed that giant leap for mankind hand in hand jumping down onto the surface of the moon. Who on earth decided that humanities first choreography on another celestial body should be a solo, when it could have been a trio signed by Busby Berkley. The researcher is today’s conqueror, the explorer that breaks ground on his way West, his expedition to the centre of the world or quest for a panacea. He takes it all for himself and shares nothing, using unmarked bills – like performance -, reenacting the individualized subject with unparalleled virtuosity. His job is to striate smooth space, an occupation that makes him completely detached from political reality (sure, he is also desperate to find external funding), performing an absolutely open - non-interventionist - score conceived by the Chicago School, without an ounce of swing or sway. It is time to turn towards each other and play together. Let’s enter the rehearsal space, plug in our guitars and turn up the volume. Let’s reject ambitions and go for the one and only: GROOVE. Let’s be anonymous like the guys in a heavy metal band and just play our songs – or why not a cover – over and over again. Rehearsal fucks representation - it never turns to the camera - it does it again and again sweaty without shoes - and don’t you dare read barefoot – rehearsal has nothing to do with authenticity.
Deborah hay It’s not performance but a kind of disguise. An absolutely obvious disguise where recognition against its will give permission for an affectual productivity. Rehearsal is a parade out of the city onto the steppe, a politically charged movement searching on the spot – a reversed exorcism or craving to become obsessed.
‘That’s correct, the artists were not to blame but like cattle they allowed themselves into the paddock of immaterial labor. Perform or else, became the watchword, and research the collective obsession.’ Rehearsal reimparts smooth space on the basis of the striated. It is a listening producing an unequal collective, performing an equity, or intensity that insist on a shared subjectivity. A you and me - rock n’ roll knows no or - engaged in a dissensual group improvisation. Rehearsal is about the already started yet not there, departed but not arrived – the possibility to differ from ones own differing – a vector. A weak spatio-temporal coordination that carries opportunities of recoding – where inside and/or outside is past-tense. Rehearsal is the concept that Agamben forgot, a place or moments “vacance” – an affirmative opportunistic, performative open interval productive of the possibility of thinking differently, freed from ambitions – one more time – 1 2 3 4. Mårten Spångberg is a performance related artist and writer living and working in Stockholm. He initiated the international networking organization INPEX, is one part of the artist duo International Festival and director of the MA program for choreography at the Univ. for Dance in Stockholm.
Subject one: test: Unconditionality
What I mean by my choreography includes the transmission from me to the dancer, of the same set of questions I ask myself when I am performing a particular movement sequence that ministers shape to a dance. I will not talk about my movement choices here, except to say that as an aspect of my choreography they fall almost exclusively into three categories: 1) impossible to realize, 2) embarrassing to “do”, or, idiotic to contemplate, 3) maddeningly simple. These movement directions are not unlike my questions that are 1) unanswerable, 2) impossible to truly comprehend, and, at the same time, 3) poignantly immediate. History choreographs all of us, including dancers. The choreographed body dominates most dancing, for better or for worse. The questions that guide me through a dance are like the tools one would use for renovating an already existing house. Like a screwdriver being turned counter-clockwise, or a crow bar prying boards free from a wall, the dancer applies the questions to rechoreograph his/her perceived relationship to him/herself, the audience, space, time, and the instantaneous awareness of any of these combined experiences. The questions help uproot behavior that gathers experimentally and/or experientially.
I recognize my choreography when I see a dancer’s self-regulated transcendence of his/her choreographed body within in a movement sequence that distinguishes one dance from another.
What’s Going on Down Here / There? tim darbyshire
Distant from the fashions of art Free from the criteria of centralised Contemporary Stop running away Prepare for the extreme offcentre Lonely little desert brooding away in the arse-end
When I see a singularly coherent choreographed body, performing a solo adaptation, I know that the www.issuu.com/thepaper
Wish you were here...
Samsuðan & co.
Performance: GREASE, the Deleted Scenes Samsuðan & co. A dance company based in Iceland. Activated 2005 by makers Halla Ólafsdóttir and Lovísa Ósk Gunnarsdóttir. Since then constantly collaborating with brilliant artists and makers. Now proudly presents: “Grease, the deleted scenes“. In a theater near you soon! In a constant search for different ways of working when making dance. Involving musicals, score making, recycling and a whole lot of Summer lovin. Aiming for world domination by using the conventional as a medium for expressing the exceptional. The team: Alice Chauchat, Erna Ómarsdóttir, Halla Ólafsdóttir, Lovísa Ósk Gunnarsdóttir, Valgerður Rúnarsdóttir, Aðalheiður Halldórsdóttir Katrín Dagmar Beck, Tinna Grétarsdóttir A review on Samsuðan & co by Samsuðan & co The Icelandic dance scene was buzzing with star wattage last month when a bunch of artists and other Alist types headed to Hafnarfjörður to see the premiere of Samsuðan & co´s new piece “Grease the Deleted Scenes” at Reykjavík Dance Festival. Creating a fuss in Reykjavík, the premiere drew hordes of paparazzi, screaming fans, and curious locals vying for Twitpics of the dancers, who arrived hand in hand on the red carpet. Samsuðan & co was there to document every second of the festivities and to feel the vibe in the audience. “After seeing the well-raved and talked about musical Grease, I was stunned at the level of performance. The dance numbers were great, the dancing was tuneful and strong, the dancing was as realistic as west end gets and the upbeat atmosphere left me buzzing”. Said a thrilled audience member we met after the show. And then there’s the story – Danny and Sandy meet at the beach and fall in love. They meet up again unexpectedly at school. Danny is cool and can’t let the guys see how he really feels. Sandy is hurt about this and is teased for being so square and boring. Danny tries to change for Sandy but cant so Sandy realizes that it is down to her. The girls are the Pink Ladies and the guys are the T-Birds. Grease the deleted scenes is a dance performance that celebrates the notion of show, dance and entertainment. It challenges the conventions
of musicals and if you are willing it takes you to places you did not know before. Although a vast majority of the people Samsuðan & co met did not understand a thing but had a fantastic time, there were also some sour faces in the crowd: “It was cut up and rearranged. The subplot takes over the main plot. Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” has been misplaced. Sandy’s “Devoted to You” is too little, and way too late. And if you’re waiting for the great car, Grease Lightning, to have any meaning, ¬watch the movie instead. The T-Birds do an impressive dance number on top of the car, but that was the last we saw of it. There was some rumbling about a rumble, but no one, not even the kids behind us, could take it seriously.” Hello dude where are you from? Just let go and get with it!!! Is our answer to you. In “Grease the deleted scenes” Samsuðan & co makes musicals on film the subject of their work. By using the conventions of musicals they play with the audience’s expectations towards contemporary dance. The work method involved producing scores based on scenes from Grease. Each score was made so that any member of the group (or basically anyone) would be able to understand and perform them. As a foundation of the piece the team made a structural blueprint based on classical formulas of “how” to make a musical. By using this method of working with scores, protocols and recycling the team was therefore forced into unchartered territory. Samsuðan & co caught one member of Samsuðan & co back stage just minutes after the premier: “It produced a dialog on the making of dance and challenged us, as a group of different artist, to reach a consensus without making compromises. Thereby allowing for the unexpected to happen concerning movement, esthetics and narrative in the outcome of the piece”. Samsuðan & co is very happy about this evening and as an answer to the elderly gentleman who posed the question ““Is it not high time producers found real stars for musicals again?” We say: stop staring at the sky man …the stars are here!!! There were flames, explosions, and pretty much anything you can think of. YOU HAVE TO GO SEE Grease the Deleted Scenes!!!!!!!!!! IT IS WELL WORTH IT!!!!! A review written on Samsuðan & co by Samsuðan & co. Material stolen from numerous reviews on different musical productions of Grease and altered by Halla Ólafsdóttir. Don’t leave reviews only to a few journalists but you can also do it your self. With love
Performance: GIANT CITY
GIANT CITY is a physical exploration of the mobility, change and transformation that contemporary bodies are confronted with in giant cities today. Cities are never just made of immobile buildings. Rather they are created by a flux of immaterial flows: flows of information, flows of people, flows of air, flows of money, flows of desire. Immaterial architectures creating sceneries for people to move in, designing stages for bodies to act on. Actions and interactions, all part of constructing space. GIANT CITY is a speculation about the effects immaterial flows and virtual spaces have on our bodies today. The dancers perform a transformative sequence of rhythmic pulsations. While continuously moving, they imagine urban spaces, environments and situations in order to discover what their bodies can become in terms of sensation, intensity, speed and expression. They are not searching for a place to settle down but rather for a way of moving that can sustain and integrate an unaccountable number of changes. They are bodies in a constant state of transformation, adapting to the imaginary spaces that surround them. Can what they imagine be detected from the outside or can the expressions only be fulfilled by the imagination of the audience itself. With GIANT CITY Mette Ingvartsen attempts to create an interface for the audience to participate in the construction of space and the effects it can have on physical movements. CITY SPACE SPACE INTERACTION MEMORY SPACE SPACE LABYRINTHS SPACE SHIPS SPACE LANDSCAPES COLLECTIVE SPACE INVISIBLE SPACE SPACE HOLES COLOR SPACE DANCE SPACE SPACE TRANSFORMATION 3-DIMENTIONAL SPACE SPACE VIBRATION MYSPACE SPACE IMAGINATION SPACE EXPLORATION EXPRESSION SPACE OUT OF SPACE
Excerpts from a converstaion with Hofesh Shechter, at The Den (Uprising, In your rooms). Hofesh Shechter (HS): Ahhh…It’s just like my home (referring to the set design of The Den) Mediator (M): To begin, your work Uprising it starts with an intense flood of light directed at the audience, seven silhouettes walk slowly towards the front of the stage. Abruptly the strike a pose and then, well then ..... HS: All different kinds of shenanigans M: Tell us about the lighting design for this work, it is quite spectacular. HS: I have an interesting relationship with my lighting designer..... I hate him. and Im quite sure he hates me. I first saw his work at The Place in London and I was impressed. I didn’t particularly like his lighting design, the lighting choices he made were not choices I would have made for the work, but I could see he was talented and was skilled in the art. Lighting requires a different kind of creativity. All in all it is a very fruitful experience working together, I enjoy the result more than the process. M: The work is very episodic the lighting contributes to this. The musicians are suspended on a platform and it is such a fantastic surprise when they are made visible. It’s a great effect that the musicians are initially completely hidden by the light HS: Completely hidden by the lack of light M: For In Your Room how did you develop the music and movement? HS: This is a very difficult question to answer. It would be like creating a map of how your child grew up from when they were born. Very complex. I begin with making sketches of sound M: You have a background in music, how many instruments can you play? HS: I can play anything that you put into my hands, but very badly M: What is the relationship of the music to the movement? HS: We work with an internal personal groove, its very experimental. The music at times is simple and repetitive, the choreography is giving you more rhythmical elements that are visible. There is a lot of activity of stage. Lots of different scenes and scenarios happening at once, to create tension. I enjoy saturation., it helps me forget. It is nice to pour so much onto the audience that they just have to let go, hopefully creating an enjoyable experience with too much information to analyze. I also use text; it creates a somatic sense to the work to create little connections to the world we know, but that also confuses us in a way M: Uprising is your second work, how was it to make? HS: My lovely manager says to me, “you know your next piece is your second piece, its gonna be really hard”. The work is really obvious, seven men struggling against something. Its starts with a confrontation. The seven men strike very classical dance poises. This came from a sense of me asking the audience a question: what do you expect me to do? So I start the performance with giving the audience exactly that. After this moment we can put it out of the way and now lets begin Continues page 5....
Dancing With Russell Dumas
Hofesh Shechter ATLANTA EKE
from page 4... M: This work has been described as animalistic, elastic, percussive, how would you describe it? HS: Soft, tender and personal. For seven men dancing on stage there is a lot of softness, continuity and connectedness to the floor. I try to make the work as total as possible. We begin with working with sensations; we keep it simple, thinking in actions. We are not doing mannerisms, we deal with a specific energy when we all have the specific energy and are all tuned, I can then say, ‘now be total’ MD: Are you trying to develop your own technique? HS: No. Trying to develop your own technique is like thinking about other techniques. You try to isolate yourself from thinking about all of the things that you have learnt. In trying not thinking about others techniques you are doing exactly that. It doesn’t work. I use techniques that have been used. It’s not my concern to create a new language. I am interested in the realness and simplicity of experience. To go into the studio and start with nothing, I don’t come prepared, that is totally boring. I come with a feeling, a feeling for an atmosphere. I make the most progress in the studio when I improvise by myself. I draw from things I have learnt, all of my experiences and try to develop myself from there. My dancers do have to be technically strong, with a real looseness in the pelvis. They must have a spirit, simplicity of presence, but also be themselves. With an ability to connect to the groove. MD: Do you or your dancers have experience in hip-hop or street dance? HS: No. I don’t have a hip-hop or street background. I just watched a lot of MTV MD: You moved towards music after many years as a dancer, why? H: I felt caged in as a dancer, I didn’t feel like I was experiencing life, I didn’t have to think and make decisions for myself so I left dance and started to play to drums. I didn’t think dance was for me and now Im sure it is not. (Laughs). AUDIENCE (A) Questions: A: What is it about all of your dancers wearing socks? HS: When I dance in bare feet I get stuck, the connection t the floor with socks makes it more fluid. Plus I saw Forsthyte company do it. And thought, if they can do it in socks, we can too. People kept telling me “you cant put socks on a girl in a skirt”, but apparently you can, you just put the socks on and there they are. A: Did you ever think about using a didgeridoo in your performance? HS: no. But yeah, I think it cant hurt A: What do you know of dance in Australia? HS: Not much Im afraid to say. I know quite a lot of Australian dancers in the UK A: Can you talk about your title choices? HS: Titles, well unfortunately it happens that one of my producers usually comes up to me, and I may or may not know if they have a gun, and say, “we need a title, we need to print.” But no, titles, I love them, when they are right they trigger my thought process in the right direction
A: How did you form your company? HS: I created the work first and things started to roll, I was approached with an offer to form a company so I did, it was created around the demand for the work M: What for the future of you in dance? HS: well in about 60 to 65 years I plan to die. That is quite certain I will be successful in that. Dance feels like an episode in my life. The truth is I want to be a tennis player. It is just unfortunate that I have discovered this at 34.
years ago he received yearly financial support for his work, one of the things that Australian arts bureaucrats and many members of the dance community have found difficult to accept about this artist is that within the terms of the dominant paradigm of the dance ‘company’ he is so unprofessional and unmethodical. I use these terms self-consciously because both refer to frames of practice and ways of thinking that Dumas remains determinedly outside. The idea of ‘professionalism’ arises as the valued quality of a rationalised, industrialised, individualised, and disciplined modernity; it entails mutually exclusive divisions of labour and a normative conception of the body. ‘Method’ relates to a specific form of scientific rationality and objectivity, and a concern to see things in terms of predictable, law-like behaviour. It is interesting that dance is so subject to concern about ‘discipline’ when the non-conformism of other kinds of artists rarely raises the same anxieties.
Subject two: test: Unconditionality
Dancing With Russell
Dumas, Some Working Notes
Sally Gardner These reflections are structured by a perhaps naive – but it seems to me necessary – pitting of ‘the artist’ against ‘the bureaucracy’. I have been struck by the ease with which, in recent years the language and thinking of economic fundamentalism has come to permeate the arts (starting with the first uncomfortable uses of the term ‘arts industry’ in the late ‘70s), and of how necessary it is to continue to try to speak about practice in other terms. Or even to note before it is too late that practices exist to which other terms are more relevent... On the beach recently, I found myself somewhat unconsciously stepping out onto one leg and, swinging my body off centre, counterbalancing my free leg around in a low arc with a pleasurable but precarious sense of instability. This body memory, this recall of a physical situation – which is in fact not so much a situation but a disconcerting and risky setting in play of my whole body – very tangibly brought back to me the sense of how difficult, challenging and rigorous Russell Dumas’ dance is. But where precisely does the rigour, and challenge lie? Dumas is one of the few Australian dance artists who have made a sustained, original contribution to international dance culture. Although until a couple of
To work with Dumas is to enter into a relationship of some intimacy. This relationship is a relationship between consenting adults – but not on the basis that we are free, autonomous citizens, equal before the law. For the social contract between citizens is conceived as an essentially distant relationship: In general we may say that civil society institutionalises the encounter between strangers; it provides a framework within which the development of closer, gemeinschaftlich relationships is not expected. Such a contract may facilitate some kind of dance but not the kind that Dumas is interested in making. For Dumas the dance relationship is, I would say, artisanal, medieval, not republican – it’s an unequal relationship of knowledge and experience, not the basis of an organisation. In this practice, dancer and choreographer are not two professional categories or a binarised division of labour: they are the possibility of a particular kind of intercorporeal relationship. This distinction is perhaps what Sara Rudner is getting at when she says, taking a class is a very different process from working intensively with one person. That’s one of the hardest things about modern dance. Once companies got larger, the choreographer wasn’t so available to teach in a certain way. Rudner’s remark above suggests the possibility that a dance artist might choose to work, as Dumas does, in an informal way because it is necessary to the kind of work he/she does and is not just a default position occasioned by economic circumstances in a marginalised art form. Some artists cannot elaborate their particular kinaesthetic concerns within company structures based on capitalist/industrial modes of production. To acknowledge this is to allow that dancers can be agents in history. They have not necessarily just accepted or reflected dominant
structures but have actively shaped different kinds of relations necessary to creating different kinds of dancing. One of the values that Dumas retains from the modern dance is that dance is made in relationships. Dumas’ work (his mode of production) is also provocative in Australian dance because it’s a question of exploring perceptions (‘what is it?’) not of training (how to do it). His practice is oriented towards the development of a sensibility, an awareness of the nature of one’s perceptions as a dancer. These perceptions are not limited to a narrow set of dance objects, exercises or ‘movements’: Dumas’ mode of dancemaking encompasses cooking, eating, shopping, conversation, watching videos and many other activities as well as dancing. It involves the transgression of conventional boundaries between ‘working’ and private life – a ‘domestication’ of work if we understand the domestic as involving the sensuous life of the body. In other words dancing is both a highly specialised activity and at the same time a quite mundane practice of the self. Even the most difficult, complex or virtuosic movement possibilities are approached by referring back to the underlying organisation of everyday action – walking, running, twisting, turning. In the face of a much purveyed spectacular, glitzy body it’s essential for Dumas to insist on an underlying ordinariness, even banality – similar to that of haiku poetry. We roll around on the floor together and sit or lie on each other like seals... Pleasure and dis-ease co-exist. Dumas practises a kind of dance that is deeply tactile. The stakes are therefore raised on the question of ethics and of dancers’ ‘autonomy’. Dumas’ is a committed ethical practice but in a way particular to modern dance – a way that cannot be described in the language of autonomy. Erick Hawkins thought of ‘autonomy’ as ‘tragic’ because it is based in the idea of a radical separateness. The autonomous dancing body has little experience of the other’s body, its nearness and weighty impact, its density different from one’s own, the impossibility of assuming it or taking it for granted. Proximity – touching – enjoins a responsibility between bodies and the mutual acceptance of their differences in the here and now. Autonomy, an idea which arises in the same kind of thinking as the idea of professionalism (or vice versa), involves a lessening of body to body contact – even if ‘contact’ is often spectacularised on stage. As Foucault put it, reflecting on history and modes of punishment,
make a difference whether I am born to a bedouin where the sand is hot. Dumas’ practice is both tactile and tactical – both words derive from the same root. Tactics is about survival. It’s a way of accepting the inevitability that alternative practices have to define themselves against the mainstream and are thus defined by it – but that one doesn’t, thereby, have to occupy the position of victim. Dumas’ practice works as an intervention into a particular social configuration: it addresses the specificity of local conditions as opposed to the universal concept of ‘The Dance’. It recognises that the myth of Australian dancers as gutsy ‘space-eaters’ or ‘cowgirls on pointe’ is a disabling one. It acknowledges that physical assumptions come to exist at a very deep level of the body’s musculature: that one’s body is the condition of who one is and is thus not easily perceived objectively or changed – our bodies happen, so to speak, behind out backs. Ways of moving become naturalised and certain displacements or reframings are necessary in order to bring them to a level of conscious awareness and make them available to conscious strategies for change. For Dumas the relations between choreographer and dancer are relations of displacement. The dancer does not arrive already ‘trained’ in a technical sense, or able to reproduce the ‘steps’. The fact that the dancer doesn’t move in the way the choreographer moves makes clear that difference and specificity are at stake – something is being risked. This unstable situation provides the basis upon which a distinctive way of moving unfolds but is never contained. From this vantage point dance ‘knowledge’ cannot be acquired, freely circulated or made available as though it were information in a capitalist economic sense. Access to such knowledge entails work within complex relations of mutual obligation and unequal authority. Dumas has an obsession with what he calls ‘dance literacy’ – with the problems of access to corporeal heritages. This is not an obsession with the past but is about keeping alive the forces that give culture its meaning. Black, A. Guilds and Civil Society. UK: Methuen, 1984. p.38. Interviewed by Dempster in Writings on Dance 8 Autumn, 1994 p35-41. Foucault, M. Discipline and Punish. London: Allen Lane Penguin, 1977. p11. Winnicott, D. Babies and their Mothers. London: Free Association Books, 1988. p.91. (originally published in Writings on Dance volume 21, 2001/2)
One no longer touched the body ... To be paid for working with Dumas is to be paid to eat well or to travel. Both of which evoke the primary experiences of touching which are at the heart of culture. It really does www.issuu.com/thepaper
Blasphemy in The Den
Unfolding over the three issues of The Paper read ELEANOR BAUERs self interview addressing her work At Large Episode One: January 2008 Let’s start with the first question. What do you want to question with your current project? “AT LARGE” is a piece motivated by a very huge and dangerously simplifying question: “What is the position/role/purpose of dance in the world at large?” This is a question that I realize is grossly impossible, even stupid, mostly due to the generalizing/globalizing/universalizing aspects of the two words “at large.” Therefore, that is where I take up residency: In questions such as how very general kinds of values about dance (pleasure/expression/authenticity/virtuosity) do or don’t persist, and are or aren’t supported in various systems of visibility and production, specifically within the overriding force of globalization which today encourages dissemination and mass-distribution on ALL levels of society and culture. Baudrillard speaks about universal truths (democracy, human rights, etc) being value-deflated and meaningdrained because of their co-opting by economic and political processes of globalization. So what happens when media such as youtube, television, or even documentary movies (such as RIZE), which are also participating mechanisms of cultural globalization (not always directly linked with economic globalization), replace body-to-body transmission of dances? Does this alter our sense of “universal truths” in dance or are we no longer concerned? When everything is accessible, everything is everybody’s, everything is treated as cultural currency, and appropriation (rather than belonging or not belonging) is the common mode of relation to what exists, everything is doubled, immitated, transmitted virtually, simulated, represented choose whatever language you wish to speak about it, we no longer seek shared values by agreement or consensus, but individual truths by positioning in relation to eachother within an infinite fractal horizon of Other’s. Finally any values or truths previously considered universal are also thrown on the menu of free-for-all, mix-and-match, choose-your-ownadventure assimilation of cultural codes, values, and references with which individuals invent, define and situate themselves today. All of this may seem totally obvious as a part of our reality which we all
know, experience and understand. But it is something I think has not been dealt with directly in the medium of dance, in the physical doing of dances, where this cultural condition is happening “at large” and inadvertently. It is apparent in social dance phenomena: the mixing, spreading, infecting, morphing, virtual participation and reaction via youtube. It is apparent in the dance field in the tendency and demand for dancers to be capable in as many dance forms and techniques as possible, and how “contemporary dance” in South Africa can share similar aesthetic values as “contemporary dance” in Brussels, it is apparent in the choreographic dilemma of over-saturation where every code including the acknowledgment of codes has been claimed and rewritten. As each body has a certain limit to the amount of different things it can do, and any specific physicality demands training and practice, the dancer must choose and becomes a mix of what s/he chose over time to pursue or erase, what s/he was trained into or out of, and what s/he blindly habituated. In both of these cases - the way dance forms are spreading in a more general public and the way dance techniques are circulated worldwide in my professional field - what is similar is some kind of challenge to the fixity of cultural context and the emphasis on individual implication/choice. So the work we have set ourselves in “At Large” is to take the physical/personal catalogue-body that exists in the training and versatility of a contemporary dancer and further this body’s relation to Other other bodies, other dances, dances taking place in other realms, and see how we can not only be the readymade evidence of our circumstances, but re-invent the ingredients of our recipe of self-construction, play the field in wider and other fields, perform the global experiment unto our selves, and see how we can overcome these codes to reflect upon and challenge our relationship to dance and our position in it as well as an audience’s. . The point for me in taking all of this up is to challenge the consensual hermetics of my own perspective: in an artistic process, in an artistic field, in various milieux of that field. This is not about exoticism, not about eclecticism, not about generalization, but about using general, external, and other perspectives to reflect upon my own: going all around within and to the edges of what is considered dance, what I have been educated to consider dance, what other people consider dance, in order finally to dance. By taking on various positions and values of dance, gathered by interviews with professionals in the field, gathered by obliging ourselves to see all the dance performances we can even if it’s not our interest, gathered through commercial contexts, virtual contexts, by learning new dances, and by simple observation of how dance is distributed, understood, talked about, exchanged, taught, performed in these various spaces, the purpose
“Jesus H. Christ! If you think I’m going to add to this Blasphemous piece of trash, you’re way off.” ~ Oscar Wilde
editorial team at work is of course not to find and deliver THE answer to the question of the position/role/purpose of dance in the world “at large” nor to glorify all positions besides the one I am placed in, but to mobilize, to get unstuck, to get on with dancing in a way that is directly and explicitly about how, today, to get on with dancing. So in a sense we pursue a meta-dance: a dance about dance that is as equally a dance as much as it is a reflection upon what is a dance. In order to achieve this, what we (project collaborators) must admit and eradicate or deliberate is that in the “contemporary dance field” (as in other fields of existence) we are always in the process of socially constructing norms and defining boundaries and categories for the individual. This is not a value judgment, but a mere fact of our conditions: We are consistently in a social construction of likenesses, by physical proximity, the formation of milieux within the field, the processes of consensus that color collaborations, and of course in processes of authority and discipline (education or CHOREOGRAPHY PROPER in the classic sense). I have no problem with norms, belongings, communities, agreement or even consensus as such, I just think we ought to be aware of them, and in fact, if we want to make all that is written above the stuff of our performance, we have to be very careful with the way we communicate with each other in the making, how we work together, and how the individual remains crystallized and sharp around the edges, in order to make visible that which I am talking about, which is a research upon specificities within generalities, an appropriation of them, rather than a resignation to them.
Finally, in respect to WHY, I think the largeness of such a question is interesting in that it’s impossibility normally pushes it under the rug and it’s simplicity makes it very easy to leave behind in favor of more tangibly problematize-able questions, questions that lend themselves more easily to concrete artistic productivity than to demi-sociological/cultural/anthropological hypothesizing To be continued.........
Opportunities to hear international dance artists discuss concepts and processes are far and few between in this town. The Den is set in the Fairfax Studio Theatre of the Melbourne Arts Centre for the entirety of the festival, it is where artists sit on stage and speak about their work. There is a pining in Melbourne for “thought provoking and informal discussion” that admirably, The Den proposes to evoke. Alas! Upon visiting The Den, it becomes excruciatingly obvious that attempts to setup an environment to cultivate such a dialogue have fallen by the wayside to ancient creeds and the theatre as a sacred site reigns supreme. The place reeks of the ceremonial preciousness that consolidates the gaping hole separating the artist from the audience. Once gently ushered into the space and seated, the lights fade with precision sensitivity and the audience is subordinated to a darkness of muted marveling and comfortable passivity. Meticulously crafted theatre at its best. I thought this was supposed to be a conversation! Don’t get me wrong, the act of listening can be vigorously participatory and usually appreciated by those who bother or dare open their mouths to speak. But when there lurks the strong impression that one is being lectured at, this generally diminishes inclinations to contribute to apparent open dialogues. The Den is “thought provoking” for whom exactly? Doesn’t the artist get anything out of this? They made the 23 odd hour flight, performed the shows, given the workshops and we still insist on propping them up on stage for explanations and justifications. When touring is expensive and for the first time in ten years artists arrive in Melbourne for three days before flying out again, time is what is sacred and strategizing ways to efficiently utilize this time to open the space and allow the possibility for transformation and augmentation of concepts should take precedence over sound checks, and lighting cues. It is the formalizing of such events that can limit the possibility to engage in an enriching exchange, exchange being the operative word. We know how to behave in the Fairfax Studio and we do accordingly. It is almost comforting, this ritual familiarity, like the processional walk up the aisle to receive the bread and drink the wine, the fantastic theatre that is the body and blood of Christ, edible cardboard and some nasty vino. We know when to kneel, say Amen and pray to the divine, just as we know when to applaud and perhaps ask courteous congratulatory questions once the conversation has ‘opened up’ to the audience. This highly traditional and synchronized situation makes for a harmo-
nious experience, it keeps things neat and controlled and as a result we come out feeling stupid, indifferent, sleepy or even worse, satisfied. Satisfied in the sense we got what we signed up for, we entered into the long-standing agreement of how to behave and fulfilled our role as the ignorant in awe. Things don’t get messy or uncertain, we remain within the cozy known territories of acceptability and preservation. For Christ sake, where is the fun in that? In The Den we are simply doing as we have always done, doing what we already know. Blasphemously juicing the artists for all that they are worth so we have a chance to feed desires to understand and to ‘get it’. This necessity to ‘get it’, to clasp at something identifiable, is fostered by the conditions in which we enter the relationship in the first place. Old crustified ideologies clasping at the sanctity of the theatre promotes a poisonous system of beliefs that has an irreparable debilitating effect on the capacities of how to share time and space. The Den affirms some deeply embedded hardcore conditionings that erase all the hard work we do as artists to take experimental risks and work for innovation to continually push and question the potentiality of dance and performance making. Immeasurable amount of time is spent devising experimental strategies to reconfigure conventional modes of representation. It is these efforts that are sacred and so to are the humans that come to The Den to share and converse directly. What is sacrilegious to me is the obliteration of potential capacities when adhering to the standardized conditions of old formalities of the theatre, in which as audience we habitually submit to subservience, god damn it. Pacified audience members distanced from the supposed knowledge of the performer is a breeding ground for limited capacities, resulting in the stupefying of the spectator. When finally given the opportunity to speak, out of the silenced darkness slides unobtrusive, yet tinged with defensiveness, queries… ‘What do you know of the Australian dance scene?’ Holy shit. It is not the responsibility of the Israeli born UK based artist to be up to date with the latest happenings from Sturt street. If we want visibility on the international scene lets begin by turning the lights on, so that we can see and be seen and start by having a conversation with each other. To cultivate thought provoking exchanges, endeavoring conversation into new and unfamiliar territories I propose we violate the violence of the sacredness of the theatre and instead set up the conditions in which to provoke investigatory discussion, nourish openness and equality, criticality, risk taking and desire. Amen
Interest Column Golden Eggs and Baked Beans Eleah Waters
Dancing abroad, well it’s not been the hit-the-ground-running experience I had hoped for... in fact, for the first time in a while I have felt uninspired and about as talented as a potato (potato + home brand baked beans mixed with a few late night tears happened on more than one occasion). I should mention before I continue that my U.K and Europe dance experience is literally just getting started and I speak for myself and myself only when writing this (you are probably fabulously successful and if so, keep it to yourself). Call me naïve or a silly optimist (I blame you Mum) but I truly thought that moving to London would be easy. Visa: check, no-looking-back attitude: check, a few pennies in the bank: sorted. Thus far I have felt some serious exhilaration and that I am truly living life for the first time, as well as simultaneously thinking that throwing myself in front of the tube at Stockwell wouldn’t be such a bad way to go. Before I left Melbourne, someone told me ‘you will have the highest highs and the lowest lows’, I couldn’t agree more. Some days I walk down the street with a stupid grin on my face, singing Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, and the next I walk mumbling that I have one friend and ten quid to last me the rest of the week. Moan. This really isn’t enough about dance but to be honest, this year has not been enough about dance. Juggling life, making friends, finding a flat, getting paid something, going to class, getting heart-broken, and too many pints doesn’t leave a lot of time to choreograph a masterpiece does it? But I do have a few things to share. ImPuls Tanz was a blast. Have you ever had a teacher that has made you flip out, up-side-down, and plant your feet back on the earth with a whole new outlook? Well I got a bad case of what ever you call that. Miguel Gutierrez. The workshop he took, Ready for Anything was just what I needed. In a massive warehouse, we worked on using our senses in dance, our voices in dance, and opening up our bodies, minds and emotions in choreography. The workshop involved using a script, making costumes, and journal writing/ free association writing; it was like nothing I have ever experienced. This process gave me the perfect introduction to the next workshop I took back in London, Deborah Hay. Again, it was about stripping back the expectations and forethought that often follow us into the studio. Learning to peel back to your body in time and space, allowing your ‘body to be your teacher’ and being clear in ‘not knowing’. I felt completely humbled and inspired being a part of this workshop, a wonderful blessing. So yes, in the last six months there have certainly been some golden eggs that have dropped out of the sky and plopped on my head, it’s not been all bad. I was able to latch onto ideas to create new possibilities in dance with both Miguel and Deborah. I have seen some fresh and very brave, new work and got a taste for dance in Europe. AND (I’m going to come out and say it) I am really happy here now; it will take more than a few hiccups to pierce this freshly thick skin. I am here to dance and dance I will do.
Who Has The Knowledge? Mårten Spångberg
A few years ago I called the Swedish Embassy in London. Nothing particular in mind, but as a well-meaning participant in the cultural sector I take dialogue to be something positive. The next few minutes showed how utterly wrong I was. After introducing myself, it didn’t take ten seconds before the person on the other end exclaimed, with a haunted yet on the verge aggressive voice: “But you know, we have no money!” The sentence echoed over the line as if recited in a cathedral: “But you know, we have no money, no money, no money, money…” Hell knows from where it came, but I heard myself respond: “But that’s great”, and a short however excellently calculated pause followed (As I said, I have no idea from where this came.), and I continued knowing that confusion was rising on the other end, “Then we can have coffee every afternoon the whole week.” Silence. More silence… and then… “What do you mean?” “Well, if you have no money, I don’t see any reason for you to sit around in the office! So let’s go for coffee.” That was the last silence I heard from the cultural attaché in London, a few moment later the line broke. I can assure you that had I been more consistent in calling embassies there would have been so much more silence and broken lines. Yet, there is apparently enough money in embassies to pay somebody to answer that phone. Recently, in relation to a medium size exhibition project, Tate Modern sent me an e-mail requesting that I, the exhibitor, should apply for travel support from Swedish authorities. I figure Tate Modern’s turnover is approximately three of four thousands time bigger than mine. Do I have an assistant? Christ, Tate Modern literally swims in assistants. I’m impressed, from that position you need a lot of guts to ask a poor artist to pay for his own trips. (I know, there are no poor artists anymore, but still it sounds better.) The other month, performing in Sydney I realized, to my surprise, that my appearance was funded by Goethe Institute. I did indeed live in Berlin for some years, but I was never registered as a citizen or had anything to do with German funding authorities. I must admit it was slightly embarrassing to Guten Abend and Danke the cultural attaché, but thank God for Margie Medlin’s indecency. Art and its practitioners have always been helpful for benevolent international relationships. Excellence, eccentricity, drug habits, popularity or virtuosity will always be subject for admiration, it is just the institutions, venues and audiences that change, or do they? Is what we today experience the end of an era when embassies and governmental policies will
change, not because they can but because they are over? There’s still hope. Internationalization has obviously two sides, a transmitter and receiver, where the idea is a win-win situation and everybody is happy. Nation to nation and the artist should smile both when shaking hands with the major and when receiving the check. Doubtless it is the “nation” part of international that has created leverage, and the artist has often operated as a bribe for more or less legit business (everybody knows that CIA funded exhibitions in Europe after WWII). When embassies have no money and exotic is something we explore on Youtube. When the nation state loses its position and cultural exchange is governed by low tariff airlines the win-win situation seem out of hand. Is it perhaps time to stop seeing an option in embassies and explore the “inter” in international, i.e. fuck cultural exchange on the level of representation and let’s instead see how artists produce agency because they are all over the place. Not necessarily due exhibitions, performances or readings but because they are there, creating long term relationships on grass root levels. Twenty to thirty years ago a few creative managers in the cultural sector realized that art could be understood as an export product. They mimicked business propositions used by commerce and engaged in a sort of cultural colonialism. What if not Belgium was one of the first, repeating the crusade they started in Africa some hundred years earlier? Monopolization appeared through the set up, in particular, of European net works, not only in respect of distributing national products but also through the handling of other countries pearls of cultural production. Wasn’t that exactly what happened during, and just after the iron curtain fell. Artists and groups first from Balkan and then further east were, so to say, bought by European managers and toured with out reservation on the European market. But as much as IT-business had to over heat so did the hysterical touring and use of Balkan based artists and groups. After a few years nobody wanted to know anything about the now over explored newcomers in the European friendship. A colleague from Zagreb once told me: “French, German or Belgian groups are programmed every year. We were top of the food chain for one, possibly two seasons. Now we have to wait another decade for the next summer of love”. Quite clever deception: we bring you aboard in order to make sure you don’t make any fuzz, and business as usual. The Belgian dance group “Rosas” visited ImpulsTanz in Vienna for the seventeenth summer in a row in 2009.
It however appears that supporting international touring of larger and established artists and groups lack efficiency. Not only does it cost a lot of money, the amount and quality of exchange is minimal. Those companies tend to utilize the fast-in fastout scheme which implies close to zero exchange, if what we mean with exchange is something more than the hour on stage in a state funded venue somewhere, and the obligatory review in the local newspapers. This model of exchange is based on the notion of lack of information. Elaborated through fax and fixed lines, when Brussels was far away and Madrid was next to the end of the world, when a copy of the season program for Kaai theater or Theater am Turm was hard currency. Today Brussels, Berlin and Bratislava is more or less one and the same, for years connected through residency programs, dance platforms, EU collaborations and more cheap airlines. If we like it or not the national part is passé, today its all about inter, which in short is to say: success is equal to having as many players active, as much as possible, in as many contexts as possible, all the time. What matters are personal relations, not to ship cultural heritage in the form of products from capital to capital. What counts is to be there, in the workshops, residencies, collaborations, impro jams, breakfasts, seminars, dinner parties, magazines, summer universities, parties, beds, informal networks and so on. This is not a tendency but correlative to general transformations of society towards post-Fordist production. It is no longer products and their circulation that is key, it is organization and management that counts. It is no longer about selling many of the same, as the good old TFord, but selling a few of many, like Amazon or Google. This is sustainability today, small entities everywhere. Swarm intelligence in front of flagship cultural export. Moreover it is all about openness and sharing. How does it come that major choreographers never give workshops or hang around and exchange with the local community for some days before of after their performances. It isn’t because they are so busy or have board meetings to attend. It is because of priority. Or rather, it is because these artists and choreographers live on a romantic notion of secrecy or even mystery. At best an audition but a workshop never.
It is our job, the artists, to speak up and stand tall, and convince our funding agencies that touring is over, especially for the countries that wasn’t part of the initial internationalization. It is a waste of time and recourses to try to win a position in the international touring circuit. The business is dead and new comers will forever be patronized. Only if we invent new and contemporary strategies for international engagement will performing arts have a chance to flourish. The fees might be smaller but they will last longer and I tell you, we will be immune to the cathedral echo “no money, no money”. We won’t even hear it, because we don’t need the money, we wont need the ignorant, white wine soaked smile of cultural attachés with zero knowledge of our beings and doings. So let’s skip the nation and work on the inter. Why stick to funding our own crew when we can support knowledge and research intensive projects and relationships diagonally across boarders. Let’s put a stop to the vertical funding mechanisms operating in favor of the Nation and the already established, and instead engage in small, personal, temporal and dynamic collaborations. This is the time of cognitive capitalism and who has the knowledge? We do! Mårten Spångberg is a performance related artist and writer living and working in Stockholm. He initiated the international networking organization INPEX, is one part of the artist duo International Festival and director of the MA program for choreography at the Univ. for Dance in Stockholm.
Subject three: test: Unconditionality
The Grand artist is supposed to be super-human. The brilliant artist and choreographer today, however, is the one that sticks around and engage in the local context, that produces desire for more and further encounters, not the ones to be admired and put on a pedestal. Transparency, sharing and personal engagement is the name of the game called neo-liberalism. www.issuu.com/thepaper
Marcus Doverud and Nathalie Koger
Sofia Tristana and Varinia Canto Vila (pictured)
Mythos and Heimat Über allen Gipfeln Ist Ruh’ - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home- Marvin Gaye A perspective on landscape painting The outset of this essay are the paintings of German born Austrian based artist Nathalie Koger. These specific paintings at hand consisted of the artist taking down landscape paintings hanging in homes of the Alpine state Tyrole in western Austria. Leaving the sun bleached rectangle where the painting use to hang bare, she attach a placket beneath it (just like in the museum) stating: “Landscape painting”. Instigating a discussion about the expression of landscape painting, the notion of ‘Heimat’ and it’s nature or national romantic origin came to the fore. “Why does ‘Heimat’ seem like such an outdated term to me?” “What would give us a motif to think through the notion of ‘Heimat’ today?” On Facebook 20th of August 2009: “Who is in Berlin from 18-20 August?”, “I am there.” “Paletti, let´s meet for a coffee.” Internet is our home of social interconnectedness, supercool! Right? Being named a new utopia (non place), the “copypaste space” of facebook and youtube also holds its unheimlich maneuvers, holding a strict protocol of residence were the virtual outcome of your internet friendships and love affairs are owned and utilized by someone else (i.e. the owners of the interface and it’s infrastructure). Wait a minute, ‘Heimat’ certainly is a term and an idea which is loaded with heavy emotions, but the question is why? The notion of Heimat has been (mis) used in Romanticism as well as being ideologicaly associated with the Nazi regime under the guise of the desire to preserve traditions and local culture. Romanticism and the notion of Heimat both suggested stability and created a feeling of (social) security by disregarding the foreign and unknown in an environment of change. ‘Heimat’; the belief of lasting values to preserve security, avoiding the unknown to enter. One of the things in common to ‘Heimat’ with the notion of ‘Myth’, is the desire for security. Myths are created to explain the unknown, to create explanations, narrations, within the realm of the unexplained. Myths are legends of gods and heroes of a nation or a culture. Is it true, that the idea of ‘Heimat’ doesn´t allow for influences, hybrids, flow of migration when myths are chaotic, colorful and full of imagination? In mythos recognition becomes refuge, keeping the dread away. In this sense we can feel ‘at home’ in a myth. If we also regard pop-cultural phenomena as mythic utterances we can see that Trends and Fashion have a similar structure of becoming. Mythos as constitutive of Heimat is the condition of our current understanding of the situation. In this way the constant continuous change
is directly appropriated by what we recognize as home, and presume has always been there. The ways in which we meet, eat, kiss, hug, shop and socialize, might be a landscape more constitutive of the contemporary notion of Heimat than the horizons of our childhood. In this sense Heimat could be defined as the cultural habitus of a myth. The myth that informs our condition of feeling at home. It indicates, to my understanding the bond to a region, not the nation, but to a region in specific. It refers to a region or urban environment, in which one grew up, which has shaped ones identity, including the people inhabiting this area. It differs from another urban environment, a town, a village, a region (politically) or landscape. This place (Heimat) was influential for its own attitude, behaviour, for the understanding of the self, rebellious, subversive, adapted, responsible for socialisation. Heimat varies in its depiction and size if pinned geographically. At the one side a village, a certain home, a ‘Heim’, which shelters a family, can be depicted as ‘Heimat’, at the other side on a larger scale, a whole area, like “the black forest”, can be regarded as home. In this case the type of landscape, the forest, is of importance as it shaped the living conditions. Alongside, certain attributes, objects are related to it: the cuckoo clock, the kirsch, the Mummelsee, the wood. German notions of ‘Heimat’, the ‘Heim’, meaning home, is highlighted. In the English version “homeland”, ‘land’ is already included in the word. Land as soil is of importance as a carrier of natural resources, nutrient medium, the matrix of existence, for nourishment, trade and therefore growing wealth. The landscape became place of contemplation and pleasure, enjoyment, most likely in the case of one´s labour not beeing dependent on it. Heimat demanded alliance to survive. Community strenghtened the bond, protected against intruders who threatened to destroy the basis of existence or questioned existing values or the worldview. In case of the existing order becoming destablized, the moment can hold a potential for friction, energy, movement and change, however frightful. If this is supressed, Heimat can create exclusion and discrimination in order to avoid the situation for change. The archaic metaphor of fort can be used here. Other archaic metaphors for Heimat are cradle and harbour. Regarding ‘Heimat’ through the binary relation of land and sea, I think here to the diagnoses of nostalgia still attributed to apathetic sailors that have been at sea for to long, nostros being the root word for nostalgia denoting ‘home’ translate nostagia; homesickness. What happens with the notion of Heimat if the production is outsourced? People in Western Europe are not longer dependent on soil and on the land. People are still dependent on community and friendship. “Add Lioletta as friend”. Friendship is requested. Heimat is outdated as it is replaced by the notion of friendship and networking. Friendship, multitude and network are buzzwords. “The multitude is a network, an open web of relations, a field of singularities which is not homogenous nor identical with itself”. Such are the sounds of ringing prases written in my notebook witout refering to the source. Tilmann Allert writes that “family, school and profession, generally institutions, are replaced by networks”.
Demolition in Progress: KEEP OUT
The creators of this project are not sure if this project could have been done before, a well known crises of all orders going on in the international scene, including that of the planet. They didn’t even do much factual investigation to support their work and creation. This work is a manifestation of the subjec-
tive fears of an uncertain future, of two people that when they think and dream their future, they can’t escape taking into the picture the pessimistic reality that for sure things can only get worst. The function of many networks are, to my point of view, dependent on friendship, also the many cyberspace friendships. Allert writes further in his article: “The profesional flexibility paradoxically declines the willingness for commitment. When motivation for work is not longer based on the certainty of a disciplinary origin, networks with high and situative engagements take the place of the latter. They create the feeling at least for the short term to possess an address [and belonging].“However are addresses and institutions like; family, school, university, firm, factory important?” We still need addresses, that is moments of address, and they won´t disappear, but change their organisation and function. As far as I can understand the line of thought of Alert, they are necessary to create activity (responsibility?) instead of laconic behaviour. When sorrows and problems can be attributed a space and have an address, they can be cured more easily. But how is the notion friendship used? Does the idea of friendship allow for the multitude? Is it the space for hybridity, for contradictions, for community and potentiality. In another newspaper published wilst writing these words, an article on the invention of friendship is printed. A statue of Schiller and Goethe can be seen from the back in the image printed with the text. Possibly Goethe put his hand on the shoulder of Goethe or vice versa. Next to the article of Tilmann Allert a still of Eli Roth and Brad Pitt from the film “Inglourious Basterds” by Quentin Tarantino is printed. I just wonder how much the notion of friendship has changed from Goethe and Schiller to the youtube and facebook friendship.
Jan Ritsema My problem is that i dont know about networking. PAF does not do a lot about networking. People come by spreading the word. By word of mouth. People find PAF more than that we look for them. We are not well organised. Even the socalled ‘paffers’ are not organised. PAF is organised through the principles of self-organisation and selfeducation, which is basically no-organisation, or better to speak an ever changing organisation , or even better to speak an ever-changing WAY of organising. And it is this that we like: a high level of liquidity in professional and social contacts. No contracts. You stay as long as it makes sense for you, even when you announced to stay much longer. Things should work for the residents. The residents should not work for the residence. Mostly the residents are the traffic and the tools to make a residency work. No territoralization. No appropriation. No propriation. Unbound. Liquid. Independance. It works as long as it works. And it has as little rules as possible.
There are three main rules: 1. don’t leave traces 2. make it possible for others 3. the doer decides and three no’s no kids no animals no partners (who come for some kind of holiday) PAF is a working place not a social place, let alone a relaxing/holiday place PAF has almost no staff. Staff is dangerous, as they will set rules and occupy little territories. The maintenance of a network needs a staff member. PAF is a liquid organization, better to say some kind of gas organization it evaporates all the time a temporary autonomous zone Networks would fix and clue. Networks establish highways and preferences. Are tools for inclusion and by this for exclusion. Networks knit webs finally. PAF is a no-code area. But PAF at the same time doesn’t want to be usurped, lived out, used, consumed. It needs maintenance and care. But it does not organizes this. It’s up to the users how long an area like PAF will exist. It works as long as it works. http://pa-f.net/