PSR on Politics
The format Performance Situation Room #2 was only partially fulfilled within the time period. The plan was, to conceive a larger path of reflecting on dance and politics: a) preparation within a workshop by a group of artist, dramaturges, curators and educators, b) extend to a laboratory amongst selected speakers and the results feeding into c) opening up to a general audience as a conference/symposium in Uferstudios in cooperation with Interuniversity Center Berlin / HZT, ZTB eV. and Sophiensaele. The topic was very much induced by a strong awakening of political concerns within the Berlin dance scene, accelerated and questioned by a tenor of “lostness and eradication”, induced by being constantly lost on global touring while ignoring/losing the interconnection with the audiences’ response, it’s real living and political conditions, and – last but not least - by a insecurity and loss of faith about the actual impact of art on politics or society at large (the latter brought forward especially by many students at HZT).
It also questioned how is political engagement present - in the arts or as a citizen is, and how does it extend to a life, mainly lived travelling and being on tour, being expats or living on different countries at the same time. How can a relation to the „official politics“ work, if one is not embedded locally? What if your resident status as an artist is not in line with your citizenship and your electoral rights and duty? The workshop took of by bringing together 2 artists (Jo Vavra, Sheena McGrandles), the dramaturge Mila Pavicevic, the curator and cooperation director of Interuniversity Center Berlin / HZT University of the arts (Eva Maria Hoerster) and the general management of Uferstudios GmbH (Simone Willeit) all in a constant exchange with artists on location, with the students, with fellow colleagues. Together we sketched out a future laboratory and a symposium investigating the current relation between art and politics, under the thesis that there appears to be a shift towards “the” political in art (again). The three artists along with HZT & Uferstudios were contracted to investigate current shifts within this relation and narrow the broad field down to 3-4 positions as a common working and discussion ground.
According to the topics set, we proceeded to envision a survey and to select 10 guests for a laboratory (originally planned for November 2020). This laboratory then was supposed to broaden and redefine the topic and evolve tools and methods to even gather more opinions and perspectives of a larger amount of dance practitioners in order to present them on a symposium on politics and dance on spring 2021. The result of our first format (workshop) consisted in outlining four main agendas that both concern artistic as well as recipients’ perspectives, trying to discern the question “how political is your art- practice” and “in what way is the choreographic output nowadays inducing change in society” into smaller brackets:
Field a) asks how imbedded one’s own artistic practice actually is in it’s local social-political surroundings - striving for interconnection and change within one’s own political context along with one’s local audience - versus being “lost, diluted, eradicated” in generalized global political agendas. It meant also to investigate and exemplify artistic formats, tools and methods that allow to span both a “global” political reality in its local differentiation and exchange on how a relation to the „official politics“ can work, even if one is not embedded locally.
Field b) investigates on the relation between artist and political activist: have artistic formats become tools for political activism and vice versa, can we locate topics that are especially prone to such an interlacement, i.e. gentrification? What formats of work are used or ignored for inducing societal change by art?
Field c) investigates choreographic aesthetics and social-political agendas: do topics like diversity, intergenerationality, care work, urban development etc become visible especially via formats of participatory art, in dramaturgies of daily live? How prone is the performative aesthetic of choreography rather than representative aesthetic of dance to such topics, how does the choreographic work transform itself into political work.
Field d) investigates the dance fields own working culture: analysing and formulating how our own working standards and ethics are mirroring, contradicting, are perpetuating or being subjected by a wider transformation of working standards and production means: i.e. what are the dance fields own blind spots in terms of i.e. classism, ableism? Does the dance fields own working culture actually really corresponds to buzz words like flat hierarchies, equality and precarity. How would a codex of work in dance be formulated, perpetuated and lived? This was the output of our workshop, according to the topics we chose a couple of possible guests, speakers, experts for the laboratory planned for November 2020, then being cancelled. We declined the possibility for online meetings, both for the laboratory and the conference/symposium. Instead, we decided to alter the laboratory into a couple of written formats, giving the outlines of the topics in order to produce texts, that might then become a reader in preparation for the conference symposium to follow. Due to the big change the pandemic brought onto us on in so many aspects of artistic life, audience relation and political understanding some of the contents had to be altered or shifted in focus accordingly. While departing from an idea of touring artists, global art production, politics as common negotiation some of these premises have now radically changed, and the pandemic situation and it's effects for sure alter the perspective on and the focus of some of the content produced so far – in fact it's almost sarcastic to think about that in a pre-pandemic state many artists felt eradicated from their sensitivity towards local contexts and audiences, they felt estranged and inadequate in their effect on society, when shortly later touring was cancelled to its full extend, performing for live audiences had been suspended for more the 60% of the year to come, they were declared non system-relevant and common negotiation was replaced by health security regulation confronting a thread outside of everyone's sovereignity. Nevertheless, some of the aspects will linger around or might even become more visible and urgent in times we just face.
01.08.19 - 30.07.21