Monthly Archives: December 2016

Choreography as Space Art

I

We see and make our works as choreographies, but understand choreography as spatial art. By this we mean that we do not start out from a dancing or moving subject, but that space, spatial references are in the foreground for us. In our practice we take seriously that existence is a moving, relative and relational being with each other. We work on relationships within a body, between bodies, between bodies and other things, e.g. technical devices or objects; we work on perception (hearing, seeing, feeling), moving/being moved, speaking, looking as ways and forces of opening and relating to each other.

“Choreography as Space Art” is less a definition than an open direction of a contemporary search and research. We are not the only ones who are choreographically interested in space and/as movement; many works in the grey area between the visual and performing arts do so and are currently changing both the view of what installation or sculpture means and of what a stage and an audience space is. In both art forms they go beyond the dominant dispositifs of (objects) exhibiting and (subjects) performing.

This transformation also includes reception. If choreography is understood and made as spatial art, the question arises, how can it be watched? If it is not a piece that is shown facing opposite the spectator, if it is not about what takes place in the (stage) space, but about dancing, moving, speaking, looking etc. as material and as the sensual materiality of the spatial references themselves, then this produces a different presence and way of watching than, for example, a theatre performance. The looking that belongs to a work made in this way, has more of the contemplative or meditative gaze usually practiced, for example, in the visual arts; it is more like a “watching with”, a certain kind of immersion, rather than looking at an opposite.

II

By space we mean relating, by relation we mean movement. That is why we call our works Space Choreographies. We try to see the relating-to as primary and work accordingly. We do not work with something – a text, a concept – that we stage or that we implement. We start with spaces as doing: In Fortress / Europa 28 people worked together, each with just as many wall elements and in months of rehearsals found movements between the static and the dynamic; from this finally a spatial rhythm emerged that was performed and included the visitors. In Narziss Echo we worked with the dancer Charlie Fouchier on the centre as self-reference and on looking as moving oneself and others; with the singer Christine Börsch-Supan we explored speaking and singing as being everywhere. Together, a pulsation of point and sphere, of seeing and hearing, of looking/being looked at and speaking/being addressed is created. In our series Choros we deal with the choir as a space, as a milieu of speaking-with, singing-with, listening-with, feeling-with, moving-with and watching-with, which is neither individual nor collective.

III

We are interested in the chorus in choreography and are concerned with the occidental history of the chorus, especially with that before the beginning of the theatre. Not much is known about the dancing, singing, speaking chorus on a square – choros is the ancient Greek name for the chorus as well as for its meeting place – and because it has not left many traces, it is a source of inspiration in its indeterminacy and alienness. In all our works, but explicitly in the ongoing series Choros, named after it, we explore what a chorus can be, a chorus that exists solely for itself, that has no protagonists and is not inserted into a theatrical plot.

In doing so, we neither presuppose a specific chorus, differentiated according to its form of expression – singing, speaking, movement chorus – nor do we ask about the who? of the chorus. Nor do we try to make the tension between individual and collective the theme of the chorus, instead for us “choral” means working in the fluid in-between of the participants (and this also includes the visitors). This means to understand talking, singing, walking with each other as relating to each other and to work on these sensual-material relations in such a way that they are not used for something else (communication, skills), but are primarily and explicitly perceived as such (experienced as exhibited/exposed). What makes a chorus for us is that and how the participants perceive each other by listening and looking at each other, talking, singing, moving, and making themselves permeable to the sounds, rhythms, forces, etc. that arise between them. Mouths, eyes, ears are openings for each other.

IV

Globalisation as transformation through technology is a matter of the world as space and no longer of progressing time and thus of history along with its subject. In philosophy, art and physics, for quite some time space has been called relativity and relationality. In a space understood in this way there is no centre; the relations are primary. When dance and choreography are working on space at this very moment and thus find inspiration for new forms, intensities and forces, they are decentering the subject in their own way and searching for other escape routes. In the moving and being-moved human body that is at the centre of dance and choreography as such, questions of immediacy resonate in all intensity, which the body raises and rejects. If, however, it is not a matter of “overcoming” this human body in the name of a “post”, but rather of actually starting somewhere else by thinking of bodies as openings and the senses as a relating to one another that goes in all directions, then it is not by chance that dance and choreography is the field where this can take place. The visual arts, especially the history of sculpture, are often a source of inspiration because in them the relationship between figure and space (perception) becomes an explicit theme, at the latest with Giacometti and later from Minimal Art to the installation.