29. 04. 2013

Thank you to all the audience, professionals, international promoters, partners and artists for sharing four intensiv and enriching days of FEEDBACK [2nd edition]! It was amazing to see you at Tanzquartier Wien!

Photos: eSeL.at, Angela Bedekovic, Claudia Dlapa, Elisa Weingartner

25. 04. 2013

PRELUDE / CHAPTER ONE

With his much-discussed book Decolonising the Mind, in 1986 the Kenyan author Ng˜ug˜ı wa Thiong’o came to the decision from then on only to publish in his mother tongue, G˜ık˜uy˜u. He thereby not only marked a break in his career as a successful English-language author. Rather this artistic and political act manifested an obvious problem that concerned the relationship of Africans to their local languages and the languages of the colonial occupiers and which turned them into visitors in their own culture: practical challenges of the appropriation and mastery of the language as well as those that concern the production and experiencing of identity, of nation, of society in a foreign imaginary space.

Beyond the specific context, together with this individual case, questions arise that – not least against the background of ethnocentrism and decentralisation and of debates about the in-/equality of civilisations – are also questions of art and the art market. Then when an always already many-voiced cultural and artistic practice itself destabilises the preconditions of the inter-cultural in the »clash of civilisations« (Samuel Huntington), and when one’s own borders with the foreign become blurred. Then, namely when it is a question of the invitation and the discussion and confrontation with always other artistic languages and bodies.
The dialogue of the cultures and arts as a tried and tested panacea must not exhaust itself in an open promise, in our desire for consensus, in levelling or in quarrels about principles. It cannot be described as an idealistic system that thinks in closed units or is organised hierarchically, but must rather include the possibilities of an agonal dialogue. A perspective that needs the fragility and the composed in our position as much as in that of the Other in order to be able to connect one another.

So if apparently ›foreign‹ bodies and body concepts find space in the coming season it is not about the affirmation of difference for the sake of difference. Rather it is about taking the artistic and discursive ideas as starting point in order to throw the proposal for a policy of small steps into the societal game. It is about an encounter that measures our own position anew, that focuses on the movement of approaching and existing proximities and seeks to develop something shared. That works on a texture in which the bodies in all that connects them can always only exist as an exception. That offers us the possibility to engage in other contexts beyond monopolisation and control, in other histories and historiographies, in another – a shared – imagination of the world that is an artistic one but also a social one. To test an encounter that in showing, in welcoming, in contributing to the experience of the apparently foreign, takes itself seriously in the attempt to abolish the »colonialism in the mind«. 

 

PRELUDE / CHAPTER TWO

Testimonies, private and public, confessions, spontaneous and planned, recollections and fictions: the question of how we connect with what has happened and what is about to happen is also a motif of contemporary art in a dual sense: an impetus and in the same way a subject, it probably marks a site at which the wish to hold on to grasps space as much as the obligation to remember does; at which the mechanism of attribution, the bound of empathy and the trauma of forgetting fall into one another.

Artists’ decisions today to concern themselves with the documentary is therefore more than a reminiscence of political theatre since the 1960s, which aimed at the examination and discussion of political positions and not least at the direct, directive commitment of the individual. Beyond the assumption of an objective, authentic reality, to which the odour of ideological entanglement adheres and which would turn art into execution helpers for different strategies for life and action, it is precisely the ambivalence of being involved that they exhibit and refresh in their works. Then, namely when at the moment of intervention, one’s own so individual voice no longer completely belongs to us; then, when in all its physical attachment, in its resonance, in the act of addressing it lends expression to another collective body. When bodies interfere they to not only remind us of a shared ground. Rather, using documentary means and in the performativity of their movements they oppose the further construction of old and new chronologies, of mass, symbolic spreading of representations and a too rapid forgetting under the sign of the new, of integrity and readability. By intruding into the protocol of encounters, images, events and narrations they work on making the many-sided interferences and media overlayings clear and on opening up counter narratives, which also facilitate a re-evaluation of historical processes: on a practice of alternative historiography that recognises the potential in what is choreographed in our artefacts, authorships and perspectives.  

 

PRELUDE / CHAPTER THREE
On Addressing   

In his graveside speech at the Pantin Cemetery in Paris at the end of 1995, Jacques Derrida addressed his late friend and teacher Emmanuel Levinas with an adieu. An adieu, a farewell, but also an opening, a turning towards – à Dieu, towards God – to an authority, an experience that precedes our language: towards an unconditional ethic. Understood as the basic principle of our acting and being together, it is precisely this act of unconditional address to the Other who today, in societies that consist of the most varied ethnic and religious groups, repeatedly confronts us with the pressing problems of our time.

The act of addressing is also a central movement of the religious, a movement that takes place in and through physicality. SCORES N°6: on addressing places the (dancing) body at the centre of a thinking of the religious and of action connected with it: the concrete physical dimension of religious experiences and practices as much as the attempt to comprehend those bodies that are drafted, negotiated and projected in the context of different religions. In the process the body is subject to a double act of violence, in that it is just as subject to hegemonial body conceptions of modernity as it is to the view of tradition. In words, forms and images it is the object of various media and live narratives – and nevertheless its own language often does not belong to it. But the body disturbs and destroys this absence of possession when it breaks out of itself in movement, in being moved. It is more than the question of performability, representation or comparison, more than the search for identity and understanding of the world, or the charging of the religious with truth. In their movements of inscription, in the moment of mobilisation, the bodies of religion are the search for an own language themselves – physical and discursive acts of empowerment.

In this sense the artistic and theoretical contributions of SCORES N°6: on addressing are not interested in the re-staging of politicised, symbolically charged and heated debates about and within the religions. Aware of the difficulty of making religious experience, belief and contemplation shareable between the public and the private, it is a question – following the movements of the body – of thinking the simultaneity of our experiences. And then, if the bodies, quite in the sense of the choreographic, in the process of movement in space and time, resist any separation of physics/metaphysics, of matter/mind, of spiritual/rational, to follow the idea that every act of addressing, of ‘turning towards’, is also perhaps an act of dancing.

 

PRELUDE / CHAPTER FOUR

Can non-Europeans think? asks the Iranian-American cultural philosopher Hamid Dabashi in a contribution on Al Jazeera, reacting to an article by Slavoj Zˇ izˇek in which he gave an outline of the present-day landscape of philosophy in a list of exemplary names: thinkers who, for all the proxyship in a heterogeneous field, seemed to have one thing in common: namely their generally strongly marked European imprint.

Now, with regard to contemporary dance, Can non-Europeans dance? allows itself to continue – in thinking about dance historiography, whose focus on Europe and North America is only slowly opening up, and to think of diverse attempts to explain strangeness and dissociation based on bodies and physical practice, which we still meet in the context of socio-political debates as aesthetic, exoticising suggestions. Of course, here it cannot concern an appeal for globalism or a simple provocation that would disregard the singularity of artistic and philosophical positions. And the narrowing of the question to a European / non-European difference will be all the more disturbed when it faces the diversity of dance and choreographic forms of expression that encounter, inspire, overlap and reformulate, that raise ever new questions and ways of »worldmaking «. In view of the artists who, in and through their praxis, in and through their attempts to organise and understand the world and its transformations, turn against centralisation and the drawing of boundaries: in their movement language that develops naturally in different cultures and ways of perception, in their cultural research on the borderlines of a prevailing description of dance historiography or in their critical approach with the dispositives of our perception.

Here Can non-Europeans dance? stands as a challenge to us, in the encounter with apparently alien bodies and regardless of whether these alone express themselves in their own language or in one that is intelligible to us, regardless of ethnographic view, to become aware of our own cartographies. An invitation to accept the experience of other bodies that are always exceptional bodies – bodies in exception: bodies that are always simultaneously also others. An invitation to ever new attempts – completely in the sense of the choreographic – to continuously reorganise our environments and dance worlds that are in the process of emerging.

 

PRELUDE / CHAPTER FIVE

The right to the integrity of the body, to the intactness of the body, is one of the most elementary human rights. Anchored in the most diverse legal frameworks, it serves for the protection of people’s physical and mental health: protection against torture, physical punishment, human experiments, forced castration and sterilisation among other things. In its universally applicable, idealistic claim it is simultaneously a subject of the sharpest controversies to the extent that it is always exposed to ideologising and ultimately also to failure: When the search for the integrity of the body fluctuates between the power and powerlessness of its definition and exposes a texture of movements and strategies of closeness and distance, of inclusion and exclusion, of standardising and designing an ever ›other‹ body. When the constitutional guarantee of its protective function, of its promise and its own affirmation discloses and becomes a demand, a challenge to concern ourselves with our own and alien processes and policies of the production of frontiers and territories.

Completely in the thinking of the choreographic that does not limit itself to the doing and undoing of structures, but rather describes a physical practice in which the opposing and apparently incompa-tible are up for negotiation, SCORES N°7: intact bodies opens up to the social and the political. The several-day artistic-theoretical parcours is interested in the drawing of borders, which surround us and which we performatively produce – in the structural, physical and also geopolitical sense. A specific focus here is on situations of collapse, of catastrophe, of war: how can bodies remain intact, in the face of such experiences – integral, not injured, not wounded, undamaged, safe, not asunder, whole, healthy? And in its vulnerability, in its weakness, doesn’t the body remind us that every border always only exists in the knowledge of its fictive potential, as a relation to something else, always only in movement? In a dynamic that makes sovereign territories shake, softens established codes, infects us and sets us in motion, the integrity of the body means constantly re-examining our readiness of action and experience and the practice of our decision-making against any carelessness and indifference.