Research Seminar Dance(-theatre) & Philosophy: articulation and contamination – Dec 17, 2pm – Uni. of Surrey

All are warmly invited to attend a Performance Philosophy research seminar at the University of Surrey

Dance(-theatre) & Philosophy: articulation and contamination

With Antje Hildebrandt, Kélina Gotman and Nicola Conibere

Wed 17 December
14:00 – 17:00
Teaching Block 6
University of Surrey
Stag Hill Campus

The seminar will involve 3 presentations followed by discussion. Full details below.

‘Participation and viewership in Tino Sehgal’s These associations: Between collectivity – individuality and authenticity – artificiality’
Antje Hildebrandt

‘Meaningless Gesture Reproducing Itself: On Chorea, Politics and Aesthetics’
Kélina Gotman

‘Contamination, Articulation & Vulnerability: Choreography as Being-for-Others in Assembly and Do-Re-Me’
Nicola Conibere

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/arts/dance/dance-theatre-philosophy

ABSTRACTS AND BIOGRAPHIES OF THE SPEAKERS

‘Participation and viewership in Tino Sehgal’s These associations: Between collectivity – individuality and authenticity – artificiality’
Antje Hildebrandt

Abstract
These associations (2012) by Tino Sehgal was commissioned as the 13th, and final, artwork of the Unilever Series and performed, or rather installed, in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall between July and October 2012. As one of the people involved in the project and as a practice-based researcher, I am in a curious critical position: both deeply involved and immersed in the work, yet also striving to retain a degree of critical distance. From a methodological position I have the double privilege of ‘having been there’, not only as an observer, a spectator, a visitor, a viewer or an on-looker of the work but also as a participant in the work. In this presentation I take full advantage of the inside/outside perspective, proposing that it is possible to speak with critical distance from within the art object. From this position I argue that Sehgal’s work plays with a quadruple denial of the art object. Firstly, he denies his work the status of ‘dance’ as it circulates within a visual art context. Secondly, he denies his work the status of ‘object’ and therefore confuses the boundaries of object and subject. Thirdly, he denies any clear distinction between real and fiction, which brings out a tension between authenticity and artificiality within the work. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for my argument, Sehgal’s refusal to document his work shows the very impossibility of the representation of an art object, replacing it instead with reproducible human relations and interactions that actually produce, and exceed, the work.

Biography
Antje Hildebrandt is a London-based choreographer, performer, researcher and lecturer. Her work, which takes the form of conventional theatre pieces as well as site-specific works, videos and installations, has been presented in various platforms, festivals and galleries in the UK, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden. As well as making solo work she often collaborates with other artists (most recently artist Patrick Staff) and she has worked and performed with Serbian Artistic Collective Doplgenger, Willi Dorner, Lea Anderson, Ivana Müller, Franko B and Tino Sehgal. Antje is a member of Trio, a collective of four artists who are interested in collaborative performance practice. Antje’s writing has been published in Desearch, Activate and The Swedish Dance History and she is the Newsletter Editor for the Society for Dance Research where she also co-curates the Choreographic Forum. Antje has recently submitted her practice-led PhD on post-conceptual dance and expanded choreographic practices whilst simultaneously starting a new job as Teaching Fellow in Dance at the University of Surrey.

‘Meaningless Gesture Reproducing Itself: On Chorea, Politics and Aesthetics’
Kélina Gotman

Abstract
Reprising Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of chorea from Gilles de la Tourette’s nineteenth-century neurological writing, Andrew Hewitt notes that chorea fails as gesture because of its “inability either to begin or to complete” itself. Chorea stutters: it “neglects the work of semiotic closure.” Choreic gesture is, in Agamben’s terms, “movement ‘independent of any motor purpose.’” It is different from, but a sickly cousin of, aesthetic expressions of dance. “If dance is gesture,” Agamben writes in Infancy and History (2007 [1978]), “this is … because it is nothing but the physical tolerance of bodily movements and the display of their mediating nature.” Dance signals the possibility of communication, of reaching-towards, though it may sign nothing in itself. Dance “communicates a communicability”; it aestheticizes the possibility of communication, and therefore, one might add, of ethics and politics. In this paper, I draw on Agamben’s notion of choreic gesture to suggest that neurological, psychiatric, colonial medical and anthropological literature in the long nineteenth century imagines the epidemic spread of choreic gesture as choreomania, ambiguously a collective convulsion, a revolutionary uprising and an unruly fête. The scientific fantasy of epidemic chorea (choreomania) reveals widespread anxieties about the dissolution of meaningful gesture in history: history’s descent into chorea. Choreomania thus becomes the litmus test against which scientific writing measures its own capacity to read biohistory, to achieve hermeneutic closure and control. As another sort of Orientalism, choreomania signals all that is excessively communicable without communication.  Choreomania is all that is transmissible, erratic, abrupt, opaque and gallingly obscure: meaningless gesture reproducing itself without a clearly discernible cause.

Biography
Kélina Gotman received her PhD in Theatre from Columbia University. She is currently Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies in the English Department at King’s College London. She has taught cultural and critical theory, performance and writing at Columbia, the Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts at The New School, and Bard College. This paper draws from her book project on the discursive history of choreomania. She has published articles, chapters, reviews and translations on dance, theatre and cultural studies of science in PAJ, About Performance, Choreographic Practices, Conversations across the Field of Dance Studies and elsewhere. She is also translator of Félix Guattari’s The Anti-Oedipus Papers (Semiotext(e)/MIT Press, 2006), and a core convenor of Performance Philosophy. She has collaborated on many dance and theatre productions in Europe and North America as an actor, dancer, director, choreographer, writer, and dramaturge.

‘Contamination, Articulation & Vulnerability: Choreography as Being-for-Others in Assembly and Do-Re-Me’
Nicola Conibere​

Abstract
In her attempt to articulate a relationship between contemporary choreography and practical philosophy that leaves both irreducible, Petra Sabisch proposes choreography’s capacities in terms of contamination – the transformations that occur through a body’s existence within an environment and relations that compose it – and articulation – an act of differentiation and composition that articulates mutually informing content and expression. In this paper I will use Sabisch’s proposal as foundation to discuss two of my own choreographic works, Assembly and Do-Re-Me. In my discussion of Assembly I will suggest that choreography emerges from within the work’s theatricality via a flow of qualitative transformations of bodies in movement. The piece is characterised by an ambivalence towards its spectators and performers that resists politics of representation but invites expansive and shifting experiences of attention between people. Ultimately Assembly creates an opportunity to experience and consider the impulse to gather as an impulse towards vulnerability. Do-Re-Me provides an experience of the human form as both intensely alien and familiar. Incorporating a disfiguring of the body that passes through different grades of recognition for the spectator, its performers create an organic mass of movement that might be described by André Lepecki’s term of “followingleading” – indicating participants’ capacities to equally direct and respond to each others’ bodies in defining a course of being. Both works note the integrity of the body’s borders as essential to affective communication, recalling Sabisch’s contamination/articulation and Biffo Berardi’s claim for a great compassion across bodies. Ultimately, they make a claim for the body’s generative capacities and of choreography as a being-for-others.

Biography
Nicola Conibere is a choreographer and Senior Lecturer in Dance at Coventry University. She also teaches on the MA: Body in Performance at Trinity Laban where she recently completed her practice-based PhD. Her doctoral research explored relationships between spectatorship, choreographic practice and notions of public appearing, social choreography and public value. Nicola makes choreographic work for theatres and art galleries. She recently co-curated Volumes Project, a group of dance artists showing as part of the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition mirrorcity (until 4 Jan 2015). Her work Assembly was shown in the ANTI Festival of Contemporary Art in Finland earlier this year, and she has shown work throughout the UK. Current research includes discussions on disability and dance in collaboration with CandoCo Dance Company, and the performance of process within recent choreographic practice.