Somebody who is out there to cross limits knows that limits sometimes kicks back. Fuck yeah, if one anyway are out there to make up proverbs why not go all the way to the depth, no super depth, the goddamn abyss of kitsch. Proverbs, aha, don’t work out very well if they are reasonable or well balanced, they don’t make it all the way if they don’t result in a mixture between awkward silence and a double a high five [but like how ultra uncool are you if you high five in the first place, whatever.] Proverbs that isn’t painfully pathetic is like qualitative porn made for conscious middle class people. Exactly, high quality porn isn’t porn. Forget about it. Yet, it’s quite comical to reflect on the endless row of failed attempts to produce quality porn or even more gigglish erotic film and get this with high quality narratives. Didn’t even that Danish guy try his luck… who said he was even close to a good film maker. Like totally what did he do even half reasonably, “Breaking The Waves” is proverb pathetic, to admit that one likes “The Idiots” – that’s him or… – isn’t that like, with a timbre of curiosity in the voice asking “Did you read gender trouble?”. That one with Nicole Kidman and some sort of cowboy “Dogville” – perhaps not it’s like second rate institutional critique, and from there on – “Anti Christ” is like a Haneke script [and that’s already 50/50 super warning] directed by Peter what’s his name “Lord Of The Rings”, and “Melancholia” I always considered that a remake, however a quite good one, of Sophia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” which of course was way much more exiting – yeah, Kirsten Dunst, a fucked up marriage, male cowards and it all ends in an apocalypse.
Stop, thinking that Lars von Trier is any good, radical, exclusive, cool, innovative, he is not, you only want to think so cuz you think others think he is, innovative and cool whatever. One wants to like what others like not to have to produce arguments of ones own, it feels good to go for the established, especially the a little bit special established like Lars. You know that having a liking for von Trier is approximately as dangerous as to have issues with McDonald’s or to be positive to ecology in general.
You just want to be like everybody else, but a little but special. To use proverbs [look who’s talking] in some or other way is a form of auto-saturation of identity, not really ironic, but still in a sort of Zizekian way of speaking: They know what they are doing and they are doing it. But perhaps that’s just simple self-reflexivity and that as we know is obviously the pent house level of angst-ridden identity paranoia.
A field of knowledge as much as any other semi-stable institution will struggle to the end of times for it’s own maintenance. As much as politics is a means to tame the police, there are obviously politics or modes of governance established in all institutions and those modes are there not in order to change, especially nothing fundamental, but is there to make business as usual. On top of the to do list of all territories and institutionalities is the maintenance of itself as itself, and this is obvious. Say since the French revolution or some fifty years earlier it couldn’t be otherwise. Not only did the state figure out how to teach its citizens what is good for society or the species – responsibility instead of punishment – it also taught institutions of all kinds to be liberal subjects. Dance or anything else will never, contemporary art will never admit it’s possible irrelevance, ridicule, general insignificance and so on, why do we otherwise still have Dixieland jazz, Ricky Garweis, Pina Bausch, house music, Woody Allen, theatre. From any reasonable perspective no of these expressions makes any sense what so ever. Consider the relevance of dance theatre in 2013. Are you nuts? Think for a second about theatre, and you start laughing but remember whilst you are laughing theatre works its ass off to maintain itself and to be relevant to its time. The magical thing is that theatre, or dance for that matter, first of all thinks about itself as contemporary, however using the word not in the sense of something that questions [gosh, I hate when I write that word] conventions and perhaps produce reality, but more in the sense of being alive, like something produced or manufactured not so long ago. A slightly more advanced thought is contemporary, as in the sense of contemporary opera is different than opera made 50 years ago – it might be contemporary to itself but that doesn’t say that it in any respect is contemporary to society itself and it is certainly not producing anything in relation to which society might have to react except superficially, like with an article in Village Voice. Contemporary dance functions in both these ways, and it takes its job to maintain dance as dance very serious.
Yet, dance and everybody involved in dance says yes to change. Dance need to change in order to live a healthy and vivid life, it needs renewable, young and up coming, differentiation you name but then how come our contemporary dance festivals are so keen on showing what we all already know is over. How come when we need renewal and change that every major grant and even worse prize is delivered to choreographers that will never again renew fuckin nothing, except perhaps get a new car. Or for that matter renewed anything in dance in the first place. You get a prize because you are dead, and a sad corpse at that.
Yes, dance and the entire art sector included scream for change but there is one condition nothing can be allowed to disappear. Change in the cultural landscape is always additive, it’s a zero casualties policy that rules the game. And the address to the young choreographer is similar, go ahead and make wkd dance but only as long as it doesn’t in any respect threaten the species.
Sure, markets govern, audience numbers and budget cuts as well but it is possible to say no or even NO. But no, today we – makers and doers not to mention curators, administrators, museum directors, educators, editors, publishers and university people – are very able to make concessions, to swallow more or less anything, to bow for the greater good of the field, expression, department etc. everything else than maintenance doesn’t exist. The species is everything. The idea and insistence that art is some sort of scarcity [which is total nonsense, there is far too much art produced in society today, especially art that thinks about itself as being professional. My advise to most artists would be to stop, right now. Artists are bad listeners.] – in any case the idea and insistence that art is a scarcity in society that needs to be saved and pampered further increased the endless output of mediocre maintenance art. I love the argument, well at least they did something. And btw, how can anybody come up with a sentence like this, which I have heard versions of a thousand times the last months: “I didn’t like the piece so much, but the dances were really good” or “I’m not sure about the piece, but the music was really cool”. Art is not like football, where it might matter if a player in the losing time was amazing. When we judge art, and we do, we judge all of it at the same time and not the parts as parts. It’s the poetry that matter, we don’t celebrate Mallarme for his choice of font. The poems I can’t really take but the font is so, hmmmm Helvetica. A dance is good or bad, independent of the soundtrack, dancers ability, light design [which is always bad] or anything else. We judge the aesthetic experience nothing else. The kind of “but I liked that dark haired dancer” is obviously statements along the line with maintenance. Similarly, an artist age, nationality, class can never be reason enough to soften ones judgments. A seventy-eight year old choreographer must be judged through the same criteria as any other, its condescending to judge a choreographer from Sweden or Peru in any respect differently. Stop it. It is not automatically cute when old people dance around or choreograph. In some or other way, I’m thinking that it is as disgusting to cute the old choreographer as it is to soften once judgments because the young choreographer is severely fuckable. But again, the old choreographer, who is a child of Judson church [can you imagine somebody wrote me this in an e-mail “I am a child of Judson…” what a laugh], or was once dancing with Trisha [you don’t become a good choreographer just because somebody called Bill, Merce or Wim once hired you] is of course also part of the general maintenance. The consequence of all this is that a territory, institution or art form first of all only considers its contemporaneity to itself.
Everything is contemporary sure thang, what we need to scrutinize is how our dance and choreography relates to its contemporary in general or even as a generic, and I mean in respect of all it’s (a works, or the art forms) active parameters. The bad bad example would be something in the direction of a fresh “Othello”. Fuck that! Or, stop making versions of “Rite Of Spring”. Who came up with the idea, such an amazingly stupid idea as a fresh Othello, or a Rite in overalls taking place in a factory where the chosen one is a revolutionary or something great. But seriously how contemporary is dance? As far as I can see it is still deeply and excessively embedded in modes of production that has nothing to do with contemporary modes of life. It’s not enough that a piece is performed by young people, it is not enough to use more or less fresh clicks and cuts ambience as soundtrack. It is not enough to refer to Judson, and it is certainly not enough to use deconstruction as a mode of pursuit, and you don’t become contemporary because you say I don’t know too often. Idiot.
In an essay Agamben proposes that to be contemporary implies to be out of sync, but this out of is not behind as in dance, but is rather to be read as the moment your production is recognized as contemporary by critics, curators, audience, colleagues, the moment when Karl, Carla, Bettina or Guy calls you, sorry you are already passé. They call you because you are recognized as contemporary, for Agamben that’s not enough. We agree with Agamben but his terms are to soft and after all the Italian thinkers loves old things. The point is however straight, the radically contemporary is something that threatens the police, is something that fucks context, history, politics, technique, parts of the whole, gesture and diplomacy. It is contemporary just because it is operates on the edges or “outside” the possible. Consequently, radical contemporaneity isn’t exactly sustainable but hyper volatile. Such a contemporary can obviously be translated into a kind of quickie version of utopia. Like utopia in an elevator, making mad love like for seven floors. Amazing and who cares about duration [try Mariot Marquee on Time Square, really fancy elevators and 45 floors].
But before we hook up with Agamben dance has to start relating to contemporary outside it’s own domain, to contemporary in respect of media, technology, discourse, information dissemination, fashion, image production the lot. No, I’m not arguing for an art that is dressed up in Margiela for H&M, or that we should make choreography to dubstep, not at all, but what I do insist on is to know why we don’t, or why we do the choices we do in respect of contemporary society, modes of being human and life in general. Then of course anybody that’s smart don’t end up in dance or choreography, they are clever enough to go music, cinema, internet or anything. Our sweet field of dance and I believe art in general – except poetry of course – is an enormous nest of half losers that don’t know better, me included – and that’s why we operate like we do – through maintenance.
The contemporary I’m addressing here is strategic, political, ethical, reasoned, negotiated and reflected, and that’s a first step. This is totally context, critical, discursive and articulated sans any form of intuition. After that superheroes, starts our real problem and that is how to make the art we make out of sync with itself and it’s time. How to produce an art that is more or worse than in or of its time, an art that operates outside the discursive, that fucks identity and produces new kinds of circumstances for what an identity can be [processes of individuation], that, and I mean it – however created within and through reason, discourse and it’s time – that, is namely an art that is totally and utterly irresponsible, that is violent [in the sense of being a rupture], that doesn’t give a shit and has no reason to exist or do what it does except because because. A radically contemporary art can and must never ever be ethical, subservient, not even political and certainly not relational. A radically contemporary art is by necessity non-relational. It has no friends and it is certainly not friendly, it’s pathetic as a proverb, and it knows that for those out there to cross limits, limits fight the fuck back, and it sucks it up, all of it, it fears nothing least of all it’s own death, its own annihilation. Or a radically contemporary knows it is already dead, radically contemporary art has no subjectivity, it’s abysmal, it is a communality of pure rage, covered in blood, it is a zombie, and I’m in love with her.