Shaking the Dust: Performance as Material as Performance
14 July 2015
FAR – Villa Sucota
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The lecture considered two propositions; firstly the idea of the body as an archive and secondly the practice of making performance work from other performances. It explored Yvonne Rainer's statement about her indexical choreography as "having a public conversation with your antecedents" and asked whether this whirl of ghosts unsettled in the moment of dance might have been a dust storm that actually helped us to see differently.
Andre Lepecki (2010) has characterized a feature of recent dance practice as "the choreographic activation of the dancer's body as an endlessly creative, transformational archive" and I want to consider what it might produce to think through figuring the corporeal as archival. In writing about the insistent turn to the figure of the archive, after Derrida's Archive Fever, Carolyn Steedman (2001) posits that this feverishness is in part due to the material nature of archives; namely dust. This dust carries with it the labour of the production of a text and also its remains, and it can be accidentally inhaled or digested and therefore incorporated by anyone who attempts to read history.
Can this dust also be the sediment that Judith Butler (1997) writes about when she considers how performative gestures come to give the appearance of a substantial ground of subjectivity; "a sedimentation, a repetition that congeals"? The body, for Butler, is partially the concealed and congealed archive of the habituation of normative behavior, discipline, speech and touch but it importantly is also the materialization of the potential for revealing its own constitution. When we are invited to read a performance history are we then given the chance to have a conversation with how the body performs its own materiality?
Martin Hargreaves is a writer, dramaturg, and performer. From 2003 to 2013, he was the editor of Dance Theatre Journal and also wrote on a range of topics, including the queer origins of Butoh, the ethics and politics of Raimund Hoghe's work, and the exchanges between the visual arts and dance since the 1960s. Martin has a major research interest in early postmodern choreography and performance art and has led to reconstructions of work from this period. In 2014, he collaborated with the curator Catherine Wood to realize the performance of Yvonne Rainer: Dance Works for Raven Row gallery and Martin also established Volumes Project; a collective that curated a series of performance works within the Hayward Gallery. In 2012, Martin was a performer in Tino Sehgal's These Associations, and in 2015, he performed in expo zero for Boris Charmatz as part of What if Tate Modern was Musee de la Danse.