So much has changed, is changing, in so short a time.
The forward march of economic and market forces has ground to a halt. Social interaction has become reconfigured, subject to state regulation, surveillance and intervention. We are finding ways to live and love within and according to this changing landscape. Wherever we find ourselves, we are reminded of the vulnerability of our bodies, our attention drawn to the precarity of life.
Had we forgotten our mortality?
As the world suspended its frantic course and we started to gasp for air, the planet has perhaps finally begun to breathe. “Business as usual” is no longer an option, certainly not with respect to our rituals of coming together, be it for experiencing art or simply socialising. Although a time of loss, this is also an opportunity to reset and reimagine.
Will we be up to it?
Will we be worthy of it?
Will we be strong enough to see, listen, learn, act?
This issue, rather than being thematic, will unfold according to a more flexible format, taking shape over several incarnations, as a way to stay alert, mobile, ongoing and in progress. Issue #12 of the Dancehouse Diary will therefore be staged across several ‘volumes’, articulated over time and drawn together under the title, What Now?
This Japan focused Diary Issue opens up multiple invitations: to perceive time beyond the linearity that makes the Western world spin, to conceive tradition as a continuum of contemporaneity, to understand specific dance forms and lineages as trans-national and trans-historial. But more than this, it is an invitation for us to pay attention to what lies in the interstitial, the liminal, the in-betweenness.
What kinds of corporeal politics are possible today?
Far from presuming one definition of the political body, this issue is interested in exploring (bodily) activism, its circumstances/modes/contexts of emergence as well as its embodied choreographies. We invite contributions that investigate the new capacities, modes of agency and forms of coming together, which activism is able to generate or provoke today. We also seek contributions that endeavour to map out the geographies of resistance, and the performative assemblages of the body politic, as expressed through protest, transgression, rebellion, subversion, appropriation and modes of dynamic transformation.
The idea of a special money issue for the Diary arose last year when, in the midst of the Brandis debacle, it turned out there were so many issues around the money in the arts that it appeared obvious, after much heated debate and turmoil, that money, after all, was hardly the sole issue.
With this issue in mind, we wanted to take a closer look at the realities of those working with ephemeral time-based processes and products. In a money-driven world, the performing arts are equally subjected to market rules – specifically those of commodification and consumerism – like any other field of practice. And yet, with no tangible object to trade except the experiential moment of the now, should the embodied performative event be a commodity traded like any other? And should it be so, what and who funds performing arts today? What forces enter into its commodity form? What monetary value is placed on the labour of those who produce performance? How does money – public, corporate or philanthropic – affect, prescribe or determine the content of the performative arts, the forms of thinking they embody, their modes of production, the artist’s status in a society, the economies of values and the value of value itself? And where does performance sit on the sliding scale of compliance and resistance?
This issue investigates these questions and more. But what has become clear, is that in these these times of global economic systems and the affect of the material on contemporary culture, we will have to be fierce, uncompromising and relentless active spectators.
Issue #08: What the body can do. Dance and Ethics.
According to Felix Guattari, ethics and aesthetics go hand in hand. Why ethics? Because individually, and together, we are responsible for the future. Why aesthetics? Because everything, even tradition, has to be continually reinvented.
To what extent then is the aesthetic domain affected by ethical concerns? If dance is an interactive, relational practice of innovation, then it will by its very nature be subject to ethical forces and concerns. Ethical notions of responsibility need not be posed in terms of dogmatic morality (rules and responsibilities) but may be thought corporeally, in terms of force, fluctuation, power, and affect. In short, the ethical is already implicated within the domain of dance simply because we dance. It is found in the tactile flow of information, from one body to another. It is implicated in the choice to empower one kind of dance, one domain, one body type over another.
In that sense, ethics is always political.
This issue of the Dancehouse Diary investigates the notion of ethics within and in relation to the moving body, in all its permutations and combinations. It looks at issues of training, innovation, relations between bodies, including the body politic, or muse upon the ethical dimensions of making art or the moral conventions of what is conveyed with art.
Ritual is an inevitable component of our culture it deeply pervades our social interactions, extending from the largest-scale social and political processes to the most intimate aspects of our self-experience.Rituals structure our lives, shape public expressions of powerful emotions, while building a sense of communal belonging. Even though we tend to believe that our contemporary world is entirely profane or secular, we may nonetheless find ourselves connected, consciously or unconsciously, to the memory of something sacred. Rituals help us to perceive, experience and relate to time and space differently, offering a different perspective upon the everyday, transforming ordinary routines into extra-ordinary realities. And thus, we slowly transcend the humdrum of the mundane. Whether or not we recognise them as such, rituals are able to bring order and texture into our chaotic lives, slowing down reality.
With this issue, we invite speculations and assertions which look at the functions ritual plays within everyday life.
THE BODY IN THE RAW. NUDITY NOW scrutinises what a naked body can say today that a clothed body cannot. Let it be said from the outset, this theme was triggered by recent cases of artistic censorship, largely in Australia. While artists have been and are censored for supposedly hurting moral sensibilities in relation to a range of legal offences, such as sedition, blasphemy, obscenity, and defamation, cases of late involving censorship and outrage have all been centred around the nude human body.
The thesis that social phenomena permeate and shape human bodies is common knowledge since Mauss and later Foucault investigated the social nature of our habitus (acquired abilities). Our contemporary bodies are more than ever inscribed by culture, constrained by the geopolitical environment and moulded by the social media patterns. More than ever, the body is receiving intensified scrutiny in order to better expose it to mass culture and pl(a)y it to the all mighty consumerism. Undoubtedly, the body senses, and when it does, the selves (our energies, behaviours, desires) suffer.
Issue #04: Needling. Restless. Relentless. Dance Is Massive
March- June 2013
This fourth Diary is an invitation to make us think dance as we watch it, to filter it through the mind and not only the senses, to accept that the purpose of dance (or art, in general) is not to entertain but rather to make us reflect and expand the vision of what our body means to the world and in the world. Art is an eye-opener to infinite horizons but it does not necessarily come easily and it can require effort or persistence in comprehending. All this is, of course, directly linked to the different ways of connecting people to art and the role of critics, reviewers, arts operators and cultural policy decision-makers in building the site of cultivating the taste for the arts.
The Dancehouse Diary wishes to take you on an intimate journey through dance as art of thinking movement. Connected to extending beyond our program, it is an attempt to nourish a site for critical discourse and bring a space for sharing the dance artists’ and thinkers’ vision of this world.
The theme of this issue was inspired by Alexandra Harrison’s project that she is currently developing at Dancehouse within her Housemate Residency. Her What’s Coming? will be a future’s festival, a sort of prophecy for the future of dance. Alexandra asked fellow artists to write a few lines on what they thought would come. We have included here some of those contributions and we also approached some other dance artists or writers. This is what they think is coming for dance and the world in general.
This diary interrogates how dancing bodies can tell us about the world we live in and how they can inspire us to move more meaningfully within our inner or outer spaces.We want to create the space where not only bodies move, but the minds as well.