The Antinomy of Contemporary

7 Sep

Now I know! At first it doesn’t seem too bad but on second thought, this is a disaster. Thinking about choreography created right here, right now provokes roughly the same sense of contemporary as sex with a Christian high school boy. Committed, inexperienced, far too caring and convinced of not finishing on time. And worst of all, the teenager is desperately trying to please you. Working it this and working it that, and all these attempts makes it even more obvious. Choreography has become so overwhelmingly liberal and democratic, so amazingly well-meaning that it has gone totally blind to it’s own conservatism. In times of crisis dance will be the first art from to start squirreling away whatever is left of its relations to the present. But since the crisis is already going on its seventh year that sense of novelty is one that without the slightest doubt would announce Raimund Hoghe as a contemporary dance maker. But then… You know what… Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is in fact the most contemporary Belgian choreographer around. Seriously, and that is pretty freakin sad.

Contemporary is hard work. The radically contemporary must be irrelevant and must not expect recognition. To be contemporary is not additive, it is not history plus, it is rather about renouncing, the act contemporary is one of subtraction, and the first to be taken away is “you”. Contemporary is all about forgetting oneself. And if you now think yeah, leap of faith you are so on the wrong track. Fuck faith and fuck jumping, contemporary is without faith, it is without history, without concern. Paradoxically enough: The contemporary doesn’t give a fuck. The moment when it does it’s, so to say, shit pommes frites passé.

The contemporary can’t be measured, localized, when it is put into the program it’s already over. Don’t take the season program for a promise of contemporary but rather as the diagnostic of the already out-of-date. You should fear the phone call when your national dance platform proposes your participation, or the moment when John Ashford wants to present your work. And you know, the definition of panic, that’s when Rio Rutzinger offers you a teaching opportunity or credits you in Juice. OMG, that my friend, that is the nightmare.

However, the sad reality is that you have worked for that moment for your entire career, myself included. There is nothing else to do, the way artistic production functions is precisely in that gap, the double desire for contemporaneity and at the same time for relevance.
“-I want to do work that concerns people. To catch the audience off guard, to make them feel something… something specific, you know something political.”

But you know, there is no way out of that paradox. Something political is never contemporary, it’s just more of the same. Simple opinions however complex. It just doesn’t matter. Politics never matter, it’s just not part of its job. And if you want them to feel something, and even worse something specific you better rethink. Feelings are not contemporary, emotions are definitely not, they are conventional, commissioned and co-produced. Some feelings, emotions and lately even affects have already been in PACT for a residency. Choreography is trapped in it’s own fresh conservatism.

If you really want to go contemporary, you have to give yourself up, forget about Judith Butler and leave choreography behind, terminate your relation with Kaai Theatre and, this is imperative, stop making pieces where you take off your clothes.

Choreography today is like imagining Manhattan as a part of Sweden. In the sense of being totally and exceptionally nostalgic and at the same time so well-meaning and appropriately on time that it didn’t even hurt. Choreography is like Camper shoes, fashionable and orthopedic. No, it’s better choreography and dance is like – but maybe this one is too cool: this is kind of Barbara Raes fresh or should we say Fred Gies fashionista… dance and choreography is like Cheap Mondays. You know, at the same time Comme des Garçons for the poor and H&M for the rich. It’s so fitting I just can’t wear it, so out of the question I can’t stop (I freakin masturbate to that logo, you know the happy corpse kind of naïve with meaning. Fuck yeah!). Choreography is so Manhattan – No no, so Williamsburg understatement and so Sweden that homogenization has become absolute complete.

Time has caught up with us. We have nothing else left but to leave. Don’t look for an itinerary, there wont be no call-cheat. Get the fuck out of here. Leave Manhattan once and for all, let’s erase Brussels from our souls, fuck Sweden. Well, it is not about geopolitics after all, so stay put but remember: comfortable is not an option, afford to be vain, insist on being a star, stop being appreciative – don’t ever use the words “at least” – and celebrate without acknowledging tomorrow. Whatever works, is no fuckin option. It’s not enough is a positive critique.
Wear make up, too much, sleep around, too often, miss flights, too early, accept only outrageous ideas, too late, and insist, insist, insist on absolute irrelevance.


5 Responses to “The Antinomy of Contemporary”

  1. U.C September 7, 2010 at 20:49 #

    There are only two things that matter: money & no money. If you want to dance for the public and state money, you know how you should dance for that money: put the chain around your neck and find someone with an accordion to make the nice melody to jump on it. If you don t want to dance for that money, well then, boy, be ready to dance out on the cold and alone. Do not mobilize mobilized friends- but those outside-there are very few out there that are ready for the fitness ideals, as autumn is coming – even less. Some wooden horse for Troy would be an option, damn, but be ready, during the construction period to smile like a Ceshire cat. And for God s sake don t call it a Trojan horse! During building it up- for it, should be a present.

  2. Dmitry September 8, 2010 at 00:28 #


  3. BOB September 8, 2010 at 13:28 #

    ‘This piece reveals the struggle of a woman to speak her voice in a patriarchal society. The performer reveals her femininity by being topless but at the same time wearing a man’s shirt as a skirt. She eventually becomes a part of the patriarchal society by wearing the shirt properly while trying helplessly to speak her voice. In her strive she manages to overcome her obstacles and now in the patriarchal society she again reveals her femininity and tries to co-exist equally.’ Vangelis Legakis The Place Prize 2010

    – excellent

    • billy September 8, 2010 at 16:39 #

      love it!
      i hope she manages

  4. Billy-Bob Thornton September 9, 2010 at 10:28 #

    Recognizing the platitudes of contemporary cultural production is well and all. It’s not just about rhetorical melt-down though. Bailing out, being satisfied with anti- or radically opposite is just as much a dead-end. Finding newness, freshness is in clear juxtaposition to ones foes whilst scrutinizing this relation (including one-self), in further radical contradictions.

    A simple scheme:
    1. Find your obstacle. 2 Counter-act that obstacle. 3. Counter-act what has already been formulated.

    The lack of obstacle has been prevalent in the arts for quite some time now, however precisely that lack – and the desperate attempts to make up obstacles where there are none, is mounting as the next big obstacle.

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