Speak Up

23 Oct

As long as you don’t open your mouth you can’t be held responsible for anything at all. To defend one’s silence, at least in the Western world, is piece of cake but to spit something out you better know what you are talking about.

But, look, this is education. It’s not class, it’s not nine in the morning. You have chosen to be here, to devote a part of your life to learn something, and this something is dance, art, theatre, performance – so you must be pretty fucked up, I mean you’ll never get rich here, never get anything at all. It’s work, and work again, it’s about getting your ass around the last bend. This is education and it has a job, it’s there to protect you. To produce a site where you can play, here we are one for all and all for one, and I’m Charlie with the angels.

I’ll never let you go, not until you decide to leave. So why don’t you grab the opportunity, why don’t you take the chance of acting like an idiot, why don’t you ask the question, why don’t you scream, “-Dude, you are talking bullshit”, or “-I don’t understand what the hell this is about, get real” – look if you have a question that’s hundred percent legit, and if I can’t answer it’s my problem. Check it out, learning, school, knowledge, education is not about me being satisfied – I get paid – you have nothing to lose, but everything to win, so raise your voice.

Don’t come say you weren’t allowed to participate, that you weren’t given the chance to express your opinion or perspective. Don’t come saying you couldn’t follow. You didn’t tell me to start from the beginning again, so? And why would you want me around if you already knew it all? We are here to produce problems, new problems, difficulties that make us think diagonally, make us have to fuck up. If you weren’t allowed to participate, is it my problem or is it you who should stop acting as a spoiled brat. You weren’t allowed to express your point of view. How hard did you try? Hard? No you didn’t, I didn’t see you take out a knife, load your shotgun, I didn’t see you getting blue in the face, I didn’t see you bring out a megaphone, did I? Oh, I should be more sensitive, perhaps even ask you… No, of course I can’t, that’s completely patronizing. You are not eleven years old, this is advanced level education and you wrote a motivation letter. You are thirty years old and take yourself seriously, you are in education but don’t consider yourself a student. You “are” an artist, and you ask me to be sensitive and offer space? Open your mouth, and make sure you’re articulate. Make sure you know what you are talking about, punish yourself every time you use the hide behind “or something”, kill yourself every time you say “I don’t know”. If you don’t make sure you know now and take the risk of expressing it, even when you have the support of an education, you will certainly never dare to say anything when you are done with school. It’s now you have the chance, you have no money, nothing to defend so why not take the risk. It is after all better to fuck up today, when you are protected by the thick walls of the institution, than to do it later when you will only gain the contempt of programmers, colleagues and art councils. If you are such a fuckin coward that you can’t open your mouth during your education, how are you gonna stand up for your practice when you hit the market and it’s reality time. Hell, the only serious students in Europe today are in Vienna. I love the idiotic action of occupying the art academy. What difference does it make, nothing of course, but those motherfuckers stand up to it anyway. And you, what are you, comfortable shit heads that so enjoy to be guided, so happy not to have to take decisions or just one or two artistic ones when it is already too late. You so don’t want to lose your comfortable position of sitting back being served. It is a little bit too cheap to defend oneself with and through passivity. Of course any resistance, any argument and conditioning will strengthen what it opposes but are you ready to give up the battle already before it’s been fought, just because the enemy will fight back. History wants to stay alive, so if we don’t aim at killing it off it’s gonna stick around stick around and contemporary dance will forever be covered in acne. Be serial-patricidal, kill kill kill and before you do it, stop sitting quite in the seminar, but announce yourself with a warrior’s roar.

And remember, you gals and boys in NYC that are younger than thirty, we support you unconditionally. Take them relics out, decapitate all the zombies of the New York dance scene. Spare nobody, and fight without strategies.
If you don’t open you mouth and take over, what’s your fuckin mission statement. Are you signing up to some Confucian ideology of honoring the elders? Stop it, Asia is nothing good.

It is my guess that, among other reasons, contemporary education have become so good in preparing students for established markets that they simply don’t know what else to do than to comply, be enthusiastic and perform criticality. It mustn’t be the responsibility of education to teach students to fit in, rather the contrary: the task should be the opposite, to encourage the student to pursue other paths, different formats to stop confirming existing markets. This can not be done by preaching counter ideology or by blaming the market, but rather through allowing the student not to identify with what a dancer, choreographer or performance maker is, i.e. to appropriate identity. It feels good and is comfortable to be a choreographer and it’s a shaky path to create ones own territory. Education tends to license the student – “-Well done, now you are a choreographer.” – but only as long as you remain the same. Instead education should give the student permission, permission to act differently and free him or her from the responsibility to confirm dance and choreography. Think about it, an education that takes as its responsibility to maintain or surveil a territory, it’s that similar to a research and development department that obsessively tries to create last years model.

A few years ago the French thinker Jacques Rancière contributed to the our context with a text entitled “The Emancipated Spectator”, where he argues that theatre is stultifying per definition and as a way out proposes an activated spectator, that without becoming a participant is able to activate him- or herself not on the basis of identity but rather in respect of individuation, i.e. expanding the possibility for what the individual can be. We should however remember that the emancipated individual is congenial to our present political climate. Emancipation for Rancière does not mean to be, or become more oneself, but on the contrary to contest one’s identity and what constitutes identity (in general) in our specific contexts and environments. Emancipation can’t be given, it’s war – whatever war means, but it is war – and somebody’s not gonna get out alive. So stop running around in nice Camper shoes and training clothes, stop being convinced about your assumed political neutrality [“-I just want to do my work, don’t have time with politics.” Jezuz], bring on your superhero costume and arm yourself. No, don’t collaborate, don’t work together with some leftover schoolmates. This is your fight, and you have to do it alone. Be a hero. Colonialist, take over, vanquish and do it screaming, shouting and forcing your way. Don’t stop. Speak up, scream, roar, holler, fight.

One Response to “Speak Up”

  1. kammarspeil October 23, 2010 at 19:35 #

    boring mr spångberg! where is the rocket fuel!

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