Correctamundo – the book is released – 4000 copies to be spread over the world as fast as possible. Release-events in a city close to you through out the autumn. Yepp, it wont costs ya 24€ – it’s yours as long as you read it and push a second copy on your boyfriend or somebody else you don’t exactly like.
Here we go…
The notion of contemporary in dance seems to have gone wild lately, or nah – it’s been out of sync for hellufalong time. Nothing new in dance not event the notion of contemporary, and perhaps this is or not very favorable.
I sign up to a series of concerts at the philharmonics and when I look into the program I realize that the music is not exactly now now but composed more or less over three quarters of a century. But those composers have something in common when they were active they broke ground, changed the notion – however little – of what music could be.
When I open the program to this summers dance festivals what strikes me is that every piece presented is fresh, no more than three quarters of a year old, but as much as the stuff is fresh almost nothing seems to operate in it’s time, seems to be contemporary, or open new perspectives, and the larger the format the more foreign contemporary.
Aesthetics is political, the choice of aesthetic regime resonates of political conviction, and more over aesthetics, by God, operates in time and expires sooner or later – hopefully sooner.
I don’t get why some people throw away totally functional milk because the expiring date runs out – knowing fully well that the provider is making money on okay milk poured down the sink – and at the same time leaves a ketchup bottle in the refrigerator door for two decades.
“-Alright, this mayonnaise is contemporary with Greatful Dead.”
“-Stir it, and it will be all fine.”
Nah, contemporary doesn’t work like that, and however dance business likes to overuse preservatives on its artists, aesthetics no work like that.
At some point I visit the contemporary so and so museum in this and that city and clearly aesthetic paradigms are defined: Mondrian is not mixed up with Tracy Emin is contemporary and her aesthetics resonate with our present time both concerning form and content. An artist flirts with fascist aesthetics as a way of addressing image production in respect a certain ideological position – it’s articulated. Somebody presents realistic painting of the local flora and fauna in a near by commercial gallery, and what is contemporary is only the fact that the dude is alive. Henrik Håkansson is also obsessing about birds but his aesthetic paradigm lets him into the Eden of contemporary.
In dance life is different, here contemporary operates though some other and I’d say wow mystical qualities. It certainly has nothing to do with aesthetics. No, in the contemporary dance festival I’m catapulted between post Rancière-ian emancipated spectatorship, Broadway aesthetics, high modernist formalism (mixed with an esoteric take on global climate change) and fairy-tale aesthetics – and I don’t mean the text part but rather the illustrations. Experiencing the last Jan Fabre creation reminds me of, no it is, a mix of characters from Harry Potter and a press conference with Hell’s Angels – which is really quite awesome until the whole crew shows up in black body paint and playboy bunny ears hysterically chanting Hare Chrisna. This is just too good to be true, either dance has hit the roof of artistic diversity or the foundations of aesthetic awareness has finally lost any contact with society, reason, media, Facebook, the future, art history, politics and everything else. Except: “-But you know, it’s not that I mean – but our audience…” precisely, but how do you know? What makes you so sure that your audience is keen on Goblins and vintage S/M aesthetics? For you aesthetics is not an issue, you program names and as they were big already last year the audience numbers are secured. Great.
In the contemporary art museum, the music program or even in the local poetry magazine the political subtext to aesthetic-experience and expression is clarified, researched, discussed, debated and fought over. A curator in visual art that doesn’t position her self in respect of all above mentioned – society, reason, politics etc. – is a dead person, out of work or an expert in sleeping with the right somebody – which indeed also is a talent [not exactly explored in dance business], but in dance. Here the curator/programmer rather is doomed if he shows any attitude towards anything at all.
“-I look at shows you know, not for politically opinionated artists. I don’t need that – if something is good it’s good.”
Excellent, that’s like voting for a political candidate because of her physical appearance, kind a contemporary but is it a good idea?
Perhaps we can turn the argument around? Yeah, when contemporary art still is busy with cleaning up their Marxist past, theatre has ended up in impossible institutional structures and everybody complains about budget cuts, dance has suddenly, or not so sudden, turned into some kind of wild west state beyond lawless, everything is up for grabs and nothing is stable. Fear is all we have to lean on – at any moment you can be torn out of your studio, stand on the street or be elevated to a place at the main table [which isn’t that main but at least four star] – so what are we waiting for. There’s only one thing to do get down to business, stop going home with the tale between your legs, and instead jump on the “easy” task of making it happen. It’s not a matter if you don’t want to, if you think the big guys are okay or whatever, it’s your damn responsibility to not let Mr Upstairs rest in his comfortable situation. Not because of your personal fame and fortune [I don’t care…] but for the future of our art form. As long as those motherfuckers is there nothing will change.
For how long are you about to let somebody obsessed with Goblins, spirals, German sentimentalism, I Ching, deconstruction or shaking sit at the royal end of the table. Kick ‘em out. Kick ‘em out now.
Over the next two weeks Spangbergianism does correspondance from Impulstanz Vienna. No mercy.