Betray All Sides

2 Sep

A thousand years ago, at the premiere party of the first dance piece I was part of, a choreographer came up to me and said: “-… but why?”. “-… but why? Why, Mårten…” – using my first name to underline the accusational tone: “… but why? Why, Mårten. Why do you always have to do things you have absolutely no idea about?”

The moment that followed, still present in my body was brilliant. The self-esteem, the sensation of having created something, having engaged in an adventure was exchanged by a sense of failure and anger. How stupid, to estimate that a “professional” choreographer would show me respect. My naïveté was impressive. What we had just done was obviously a threat – we had no idea – and I thought she’d value what we had done? Stupid! I still carry that comment with me, day to day, for fifteen years: “-… but why?” It was devastating, traumatizing and a blow to an embarrassing conviction to idealism. But unfortunate for her, the reaction wasn’t exactly benevolent to her but an endless, fuck you and fuck your interior decoration dance. Fuck your well-meaning arguments. I’m not interested in knowing what I’m doing that’s like buying an album with Devendra Banhart on Itunes.

Today, the choreographer is still active, my age and a celebrity in dance (almost): loved and appreciated, and considering the previous statement, it all makes sense, cuz she is still doing exactly what she was really good at fifteen years ago. More of the same. Juzuz, she must be bored? .

“-Why, Mårten…” – well, if for no other reason then not to get bored, but more profoundly because doing what I have no idea about is putting myself under pressure. Doing what I can’t offers two opportunities, first: the contestation of the self, i.e. a capacity of becoming other, and second: the sense of having nothing to lose, and thus opening for a possible destabilization of a given territory.

To do things you have no idea about, is a means to complexify conventions, norms and identification processes. It is a means to abolish excellence, which as we know by definition is homogenizing, the axiom of maintenance of norm, and something that feeds on refinement and exclusion.

It is easy to admire and equally a tough job to keep excellence away as it is one part of the Janus face of capitalism: territorialization.
Sitting through another horror piece by Jerome Bel, is in that sense a tragedy. How did it happen that an artist with such passion for doing the wrong… not so many years later has been completely consumed by excellence, finesse (another word for dramaturgy) and a compulsive fetishist (another words for a need to be loved).

Don’t go anti, but fear excellence; it’s a state funded army, be a war-machine expelled, hiding in the dessert, by insisting on doing what you can’t you are a threat to good governance. Excellence knows its arms, our job is to invent new weapons.
Don’t disguise yourself, don’t go undercover, abolish history, don’t choose your fights, fuck negotiation and, remember, betray all sides.

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5 Responses to “Betray All Sides”

  1. Dmitry September 2, 2010 at 23:37 #

    quite an excellent post, by the way!

  2. flo September 3, 2010 at 02:29 #

    Cool! But now I am dead curious if that “almost famous” choreographer was `Vera Mantero? Haha…Please Marten….give into gossip :)))

  3. Wojtek September 14, 2010 at 12:16 #

    Hey, that sounds a lot like a fragment of “Either/Or” where Kierkegaard says that he (the narrator) was an excellent teacher, so he quit teaching to become an actor, because he was a lousy actor, so it seemed like the obvious choice – to move into a territory where one has to become what one is, never certain, and always to be continued, until he became good at that, and moved on…
    No need for anti-capitalistic slogans. The bottom line seems to be an existential attitude, in the purest, simplest sense.
    And one limitation might be: at times I prefer the experience of something I know something about, not out of laziness (that too) or comfort, but because it allows me to dig further, to use tools, like a board, to jump higher and dive further, and not necessarily into the known.
    If you rejected this altogether, you would have to leave your terminology/conceptology (“the Janus face of capitalism: territorialization”…) which you know way too much about. By sticking to the jargon (which feels like a big part of your work), you are not leaving the safe territory. Which is okay, since you try to use it to challenge, to move a little forward (or sideways). But not admitting it, and claiming you are “always doing things you have no idea about” seems a tad hypocritical.

    • Marten Spangberg September 15, 2010 at 09:44 #

      Obviously I’m totally fucked, and the only proper way out is, as the general strategy of our present predicament, to turn to the proper, considered and well-meaning. Don’t you see how embarrassingly well you inscribe into the balanced, behaved and available. Don’t you see how your well-spoken critique is exactly the arm-lengths skeptical observation that consolidates conventions and produces immobility. This is the jargon that we must reject. A mode of address that relies on general responsibility instead of one that is individual. We have a job, to refuse those kinds of machinic assemblage that so properly confirm our identity.
      Of course I can not undo my everything, I need to recall what I don’t know at least. You mix up symbolic and actual, to insist on doing something you don’t know does not mean to invent the wheel every morning but is a decision to labor on conventions from a specific point of departure. It’s naive obviously but it doesn’t try to hide it, it doesn’t pretend like its raining which you know is the new model. We don’t start with a name, we say no to psychoanalysis, and we are way happy with an amount of hypocrisy in front of self-righteous defensive blaming somebody else attitude. And come on jump higher, dive further, that’s fuckin obvious and you sound like you admire Beckett too.

      • Wojtek September 17, 2010 at 23:48 #

        Hahahaha well the Beckett suspicion is on-the-spot, I fucking hate Beckett and get nervous around people who admire him. Maybe besides some of his last works where he seems like, guess what, he has no idea whatsoever as to where he is heading.
        Well-spoken, me? Whatever. I don’t self-indulge into statements I do not try to put into life. Balanced, behaved, available. Great. It certainly takes me out of the category of well-behaved rebels who can’t live without all the in-places they so love to hate. Like a Judith Butler thing- you can’t really get out of the game, but you can use it since you’re playing it anyway. But then, it’s not about using it, it’s about using it and actually making a difference, don’t you think? (Or is it just about protecting your (one’s) self-love? If you scream out your anger and thump your shoes and reject this and reject that, what are you left with? Isn’t it hard to actually do some fucking amazing work, or life, if this is your starting point?)
        Mixing up symbolic and actual seems rather to the point. That’s all I read here, that’s all I hear. You can shout all you want, it’s symbolic.
        For all your blabla, you know what impressed me most in you? Your washing so many dishes at the PAF.

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