Petra Sabisch: Choreographing Participatory Relations.
Choreographing Participatory Relations.
(S. 109 – 131)

Contamination and Articulation

Petra Sabisch

Choreographing Participatory Relations.
Contamination and Articulation

PDF, 23 Seiten

A choregraphy is a complex dynamic assemblage that relates to the audience in a highly specific way. This way fashions a participatory relational compound which makes the choreography a singular one. In this sense, performances are singular offers for participation; and their respective aesthetic regimes create different modes of participation. Following Rancière's Partage du Sensible and Deleuze's transcendental empiricism, one can say that they share (partage) the distribution of the sensible of choreography. This argument implies a radical reconfiguration of the concept of participation, which counteracts the all too narrow version of political philosophy and representational politics, according to which participation is first and foremost based on an active commitment and a voluntary decision by already constituted subjects. One has to go further, stretch the notion of participation and unfold its issue as a matter of partage. Beneath the wide-meshed macrophysics of politics one can then discover a multiplicity of participatory relations that swarm within every body and its performances, that partition and re-distribute these bodies and generate new thresholds of perception: there are for example intercellular osmotic relations, relations of movement and rest, relations between a body and its exteriority, kinaesthetic relations between bodies, semiotic relations, etc. ... Considering these relations and the modes in which one partakes in them on a molecular, affective, or sensible level means exploring the potential of relational assemblages, that is, their changeability.

The following article is based on the transcript and notes for my lecture in the Gießen conference “Dance, Politics and Co-Immunity”. Whereas the first and third part of the lecture were written as a kind of frame, a passe-partout, the second and main part was articulated instantaneously on the basis of notes. In an attempt to account for the problem of participation and sharing within the field of choreography, dance studies, and philosophy through an adequate method of presentation, my contribution to the present anthology of the conference alters this form of presentation: The argumentative lines of a prepared yet improvised speech have been written out, and the scripted frame becomes the citation of a lecture choreographed in situ.


Choreography & Participation: What Do We Share Within A Performance?

In the representative democracy in which I am living, my participation in politics consists basically in one gesture (I lift my arm as in a vote) or (I check mark a box), in Germany (I check mark a box twice). Once, every four years, five, depending on the country in which I am living. A noble and utterly important gesture, without a doubt – even if I don’t feel I really have a choice. But I subscribe to this, somehow.1

In between these years, I just do something else. I choose, as far as I can. I work in choreography and in philosophy. Now, from a choreographic point of view, it is not only that I can imagine some more gestures, but that I also realize that I have a totally different understanding of participation, of participating in a society, and this understanding seems in a certain sense far more political to me. There is something about this participation that matters to me and that I will try to speak about today. It is an issue that I became aware of while I was writing my thesis Choreographing Relations: Practical Philosophy and Contemporary Choreography.2 It is something which lay beneath thinking, maybe because it was too obvious. I would like to reformulate this issue within the domain I’m concerned with: What do we actually share within a choreography, a performance? What do we share in performing thinking, lecturing? What can sharing mean today?

This question steered my research, and it is now that my script stops.

Script of a Lecture Without Script

Relations 1: Choreography and Philosophy

I would like to outline the project of my thesis, Choreographing Relations, at least the first parts of it, in order to elucidate this question. At the beginning of my thesis in philosophy I felt the need to question the relation between contemporary choreography and practical philosophy so as to grasp my own proceedings within the research. Quickly this questioning of the relation revealed a problem: How can their relation be conceptualized without assimilating choreography to philosophy or vice versa, or, even worse, without exerting philosophical concepts on choreographic practices in the guise of explaining the latter? What is it that philosophy might possibly be capable of contributing to choreography without speaking for it, in choreography’s place?

As a point of departure, there was the impression of a certain affinity between Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s philosophy and my personal vision of the contemporary choreographies of Antonia Baehr, Juan Dominguez, Xavier Le Roy, and Eszter Salamon. In the event that this affinity really existed, it would have been graspable to some degree outside of my personal interest for both practices.

If one further assumes that it is certainly not the function of philosophy to add “thinking” to choreography, since choreographers can definitely think on their own, what is it then that philosophy can do? Deleuze’s answer to this question has become well-known by now: philosophy’s task is to create concepts.3 Well, how is this relation to be conceptualized if one critically reassesses the function of philosophy within the discourse of contemporary choreography? How to think an encounter between contemporary choreography and practical philosophy in which both practices would be irreducible to the other and resonate productively in their differences?

While ruminating on the choreographies that I saw in the late nineties and at the turn of the twenty-first century, it turned out that they all transported a very peculiar idea of choreography: with respect to the whole work-corpus, each performance proceeded in a very different way than the preceding and the following one. But more than just differing from each other, it seemed specific to these choreographies that they actually developed a different method for each performance.

Saying that these choreographies developed methods consequently implies another concept of method, a concept according to which method is no longer the overarching theory that could simply be applied to a given material. I think one major issue of these choreographies was precisely this different understanding of method, an understanding where each performance in effect becomes the development of a specific method, a method only for this very piece. Obviously the objective of the choreographies that compelled me to write a thesis did not consist in applying ready-made techniques, nor in engaging in virtuosic demonstrations of dance-coded skills, but rather in developing, with and through the parameters of the performance (e.g. the dispositif and, as the case may be, the form of collaboration), something which makes a specific method out of all these relational parameters.

I became intrigued by this idea of proliferating highly specific methods, itself equally evidenced in the concepts of Deleuze and Guattari: they are singular assemblages that connect, diverge, and redistribute alloted or sedimented sense by repeating and differentiating it.4 With regard to these works, it therefore made sense to radically recast method as singular, experimental, and material practice.5 This intrinsic linkage to method that subtended the works of my concern actually clarified the relation between contemporary choreography and practical philosophy as an encounter in method, that is to say, an encounter in their difference of methods.

This new concept of method became my point of departure. I wanted to conceive of the relation between choreography and philosophy in these terms, because I did not want to assimilate a Deleuzian way of thinking to choreography or impose choreographic procedures on philosophy. Their relation is a relation of difference, an encounter in method, i.e. in the same conception of method as singular, experimental, and material practice, which is differently deployed in each respective practice: on the one hand, it is actualized in writing, on the other, in performing – or better, in performing writing and performing on stage.

Relations 2: Ontology, Its Critique,
and Choreography’s Potential in a Logic of Relations

While starting to write my thesis, I was informed by – as one could maybe say – the discursive field of dance at that time in which these experimental choreographies were merely characterized as “non-dance” or, likewise, as “conceptual dance.” I guess you are familiar with this problematic. The basic claim was “This is not dance.”6 This verdict created a huge problem for me. What does it mean to utter an ontological critique, or more precisely, to negate the ontology of somebody’s practice? Who can claim the authority to withdraw the very logic of being, an existential logic, from a practice? Although this verdict obviously relied on an implicit idea of dance’s identity, it was not posed as a question but as a neatly negative statement: “This is not dance!”

The implicit assumptions that underpin this judgement are many. One of the most blatant is the idea that we can and should define what dance is. What is gained with such definition-based identities? If, instead, we take up the question and ask “What is dance?” and think of it as a kind of accumulation of parameters of ingredients that necessarily should characterize it, we will never come to the point of accounting for that which is not already there, for that which dance can also be.

That is why I would like to question the idea, be it in the history of philosophy or elsewhere, that one could define that which is being by the being alone.7 A critique of this idea is worth advocating strongly, because one has to consider the potential of dance, its virtue, in order to understand how dance actually functions and might also function differently. All dances of today cannot explain the fact that there are new dances. After all, how can innovation or transformation be accounted for with such a tautological definition of dance’s ontology? To say it clearly: any logic of being that occludes the ontogenetic and contingent features of that which comes into being can neither explain nor make a qualitative analysis of transformations and becomings.

Thinking within, through, and around the performances that I had watched with fascination, I thence wondered how to analyze them. Is analysis the right term, or an adequate procedure suited to accounting for choreographies? The complexity of these experimental choreographies seemed to call for an equally complex method, which I missed in the dance studies and discourses of the nineties. When attempting to dissect or grasp a performance in its doing and its effects, it seemed to me inadequate to speak of its ingredients as static entities, because all these aspects (e.g. the people in the performance, light, movement, etc.), once they were summed up as snapshots (e.g. 3 persons, a specific song), can never account for the way a performance makes sense.

Brian Massumi has critized this methodological problem of thinking movement in static terms; insisting that it paradoxically ejects the very idea of movement as a qualitative transformation from the agenda:

The very notion of movement as qualitative transformation is lacking. There is ‘displacement,’ but no transformation; it is as if the body simply leaps from one definition to the next. Since the positional model’s definitional framework is punctual, it simply can’t attribute a reality to the interval, whose crossing is a continuity (or nothing).8

Movement as a qualitative change bizarrely slips out of view as soon as we look at it either as taking place in between two terms, or as the reductive cinematographic way that Bergson criticized so fervidly, that is to say, if we cut the movement into slices.9 How, then, could one approach choreography through that which it actually does without predefining its potential to do otherwise and to innovate its own parameters?

Methodology 1: Phenomenology and Theoretical Abstraction

When viewing the existing writings in dance studies at the end of the nineties, I stumbled upon a problem that seemed to traverse basically all the texts that I had read; and in all probability my own writings will not escape from it. Nonetheless, this problem was never directly addressed: there was no adequate methodology for bridging the gap between two ways of writing about choreography.

The first way consists in approaching performance through a more or less thick description of the perception of the performance. As many of you saw Saša Asentić’s performance My private biopolitics yesterday,10 the performance may serve as an example: It intersects the story of some decisive moments in Asentić’s biographical trajectory – e.g. leaving theatre for dance, telling his failure in reciting a dramatic text to his ease in movement and his growing success as a choreographer who tours from East to the “international West” – with a performative play that critically questions his specific currency as a contemporary and critical Balkan dancer within the Western European context and conventions of importing critique. If one tries to describe this performance only in aesthetic terms, that is, in a purely phenomenological manner, one will never be able to account for what it does.11 In other words, a purely phenomenological thinking – however worthy it is and however far it can be pushed – dismisses the performance in two ways: not only can it never reach that point which forces us to perceive the perceptible (to speak here in a Deleuzian way); moreover, it is not a methodological guarantee for a sufficient perception of the way the performance is produced.12

Although the parameters of artistic production themselves (the production means, the artistic process and its distribution) might appear in various aspects of an analysis based on perception, they cannot sufficiently be grasped through the phenomenological instrumentarium. Even in Asentić’s performance, where the production process and issues of distribution are core to the performance, one can say in any case that they are quite perceptible and palpable, the problem persists because the perception of the parameters concerning production does not entail the very conditions of this production.

Following the readings of Marx or the scholarship of political economy, this thought becomes quite evident from the other side; for a mere change in the content of a product does not mean that labor or the capitalist system would necessarily be affected.13 As a matter of fact, there is always an expression of the production process within a choreography, but one cannot deduce the conditions of production from it. Accordingly, there is something about the way in which a performance is produced by means of the potential of what choreography can do which remains unnamed in a purely phenomenological perspective. This does not necessarily mean that one has to abandon perception theories altogether. Quite the contrary …

On the other hand, one has to reconsider a theoretical phenomenon of abstraction, or more concretely, the phenomenally practical effects of theories about dance. Imagine you are a theoretician who is compelled to think by a performance. You want to understand and grasp the performance, which you really think shows Derrida’s trace. It could equally be Deleuze’s becoming, of course; the gesture remains the same. It is a gesture that neither really conceptualizes choreography nor shares a really new thought with choreography. It just functions in the system you are busy with by imposing this system onto choreography and by giving legitimacy to your own gesture. What would be the merit of transposing choreography into another system that you happen to be busy with just in order to explain choreography through this theoretical system? I had the weird impression that a lot of texts proceeded in this way: by assimilating a concrete choreography to a given theory, or by using a concept in order to explain the choreography according to the theoretical implementations of the concept.

Now, this gesture is highly problematic, unless we agree to a colonial relationship between theory and practice. If, on the other hand, we understand theory as the viewing, reconsideration, and development of heterogeneous apparatuses, dimensions, and concepts that proceed from within a real practice, and furthermore if we understand methodology as a process which provides the conditions for this very procedure, that is to say, as an encounter on an equal basis, then, and only then, does it seem to me worth engaging in theories and concepts of choreography.

Given these confines of perception (as regards the conditions of production) and theory (as regards concretion, empirical work, and real distributions of power), both approaches remain somehow unsatisfactory: Whereas the phenomenological approach cannot account, methodologically speaking, for the production process, the theoretical approach becomes insignificant without contextual concretion, becomes upsetting when abstracting from equality, and is not far-reaching enough to grasp that which forces it to think. It seems that nothing is gained unless one considers the relation between these two approaches, a relation that would bind theory back to experience without falling prey to either phenomenological reduction or theoretical profusion devoid of any material tie.

Relation 3: The Relation with the Audience

When trying to think the relation between both approaches, the core question pops up again: what is it that is actually performed in a performance? I will anticipate my answer here, which actually came very late: from my point of view, it is the relation with the audience that is performed within a performance. I was already thinking in relations, and of course one can think the whole performance as a relational assemblage. However, in order to grasp the specificity of choreography and the performing arts, one has to conceive of this relation (gesturing toward the audience), to account for it methodologically. What a performance actually works with is precisely the relation we are in at this moment.

There is a book by Rodolphe Gasché that is key to this matter of relations in which the author reassesses the century-old philosophical discussions about the ontology of relations, that is, the question whether these relations exist or not, whether they are real or not, whether they have substance or not. I would like to quote a passage from this book for two reasons: first, because Gasché steps away from the opaque necessity of pinpointing the minimal ontological quanta needed to make a relation interesting for a philosopher, and second, because his critique of the ontological debates has an interesting double feedback onto the aforementioned context of dance’s ontology. In this quote, Gasché explains how his book Of Minimal Things proceeds:

If Of Minimal Things takes on the question of relation, the investigation is not framed by any preliminary decision concerning its ontological status. In spite of the title’s allusion to the Scholastic theories of relation, relation will not be understood here as a (relative) thing, as a thing, more precisely, that is ontologically deficient compared to the existence attributed to substance. Nor is this study an investigation into entities that, because they are extramental rather than internal, enjoy at least the status of minuscule things. In what sense do I speak here of ‘minimal things’? Rather than indicating a deficient mode of being or referring to things that barely have being, ‘minimal things’ refers here, first, to the smallest, hence most elemental issues or matters of concern to philosophical thought. Relation, the title suggests, is one of the most (if not the most) extreme of philosophy’s topics. It is a minimal thing not because it is the least possible thing but because it constitutes the philosophical ‘thing’ in the sense of issue and matter of concern at its most minute. Relation could thus be considered the most basic and simple of all philosophical problems.14

I thought that this perspective on relations was more than interesting for my research, especially because it refused preliminary decisions about their ontological status and thus allowed a focusing of relations as a constitutive and supremely productive “matter of concern” for philosophy. Associating these thoughts with my conception of choreography, I realized how important it is, then, not to stop thinking choreography at this very borderline (pointing to the fourth wall), but to commit to the problem of how this relation (stretching my arms out toward the audience) can be conceptualized. On a second glimpse, Gasché’s critique of ontology’s classical procedure (in other words, to sort out in a first step whether relations can be said to exist or not) resonated with my critique of a dance ontology which barred the experimental choreographies of Baehr, Dominguez, Le Roy, and Salamon by mere judgment. This resonance enabled me to shift the focus to the qualitative transformations of these performances.15

Closely related to this aspect, which considers relations in their qualitative delicacy before subtracting them from the agenda, is Gasché’s insight into relations as being constitutive for a “matter of concern.” Hence it is implied that you cannot speak about anything that catches your attention or interest without relating to it. In the moment when I find an interest in something, when I am intrigued by something, I enter into composition with a relation. Consequently, one cannot speak of relations without naming one’s own interest in them. It is in this sense that a thinking of relations implies my involvement as much as my reflection of it. I reformulated this quite complicated affair for myself: without relations things are essentially stuck.

Participation: What do we share within a performance?

My argument was to think choreography in relations. So, we have relations and we have relational assemblages, choreographies. Yet in which way can one think the whole of this relational assemblage, choreography’s assemblage, as a singular one? I have argued beforehand that the performances by Baehr, Dominguez, Le Roy, and Salamon were, from my point of view, singular, experimental, and material practices that elaborate a method immanent to these practices. In this context the word singular refers to a multiplicity, an assemblage, whose dynamic components and relational connections actualize in a singularity. Regarding the relation that a performance constitutes with the audience, one can say: to relate in a specific way to the audience implies a particular commitment to the issue of participation in theater practice, a commitment that critically questions and reassesses what can be shared through choreography.16 It is in this sense that the singular links up with the experiment: how can singular assemblages with the audience be created?

In a nutshell, my claim is that the relations, or better, the relational assemblages choreography actually composes with the audience are singular ones when the potential actualizes in modes of perception, modes of production, always intertwined, which then become singular offers of participation for the audience. Speaking of a relation as singular offer, or better, mode of participation implies a certain way of thinking agency, as much as participation takes on an altogether new meaning, to which I will return later.17 Let me just say at this point that it implies models of agency according to which passivity is not the opposite of action, and watching is not the opposite of doing; instead, both participate, partially and simultaneously, in agency and are perhaps unequal with regard to role but not unegalitarian in terms of participation.18 From this point I developed two concepts which aim to take into account this problem of writing about dance and conceptualizing participation and agency. First I wanted to find words, concepts, ways of speaking about the qualitative transformation of bodies, and second, about the qualitative transformations of sense. The reason for these two interrelated concepts lies in the problem I had with the implicit assumptions concerning qualitative transformations of bodies and sense in the texts about dance that I had read.

Methodology 2: What Can Choreography Do?

1. Contamination

The first concept of my thesis is contamination. Within this conference about the co-immunity of dance and politics, some aspects of contamination have already been named, such as the idea of immunitary systems, in which contamination appeared mostly as life-threatening counter-agent to immunity, as well as the idea of a permeability of a dynamic and complex immune system. Quite different from a threat, but close to the idea of a certain permeability, my approach to this issue was set off by a lecture-performance by Xavier Le Roy called Product of Circumstances, by which I felt contaminated.19

Shortly afterwards I was invited to write an article about this performance, which allowed me to think the issue of contamination through the rhetorical context of figurations and defigurations.20 At this time, I thought my response to this question could only take place on a subjective level. Then I made a lecture-performance about it entitled Contaminated, leading me somewhere else.21 And finally, having written my thesis on this problem, I’m still not sure whether I have exhausted the question.

In this context of contamination it is of utmost relevance – also concerning today’s presentations on the nature of problems, problems of production and procedures of work – to think the very moment by which you are compelled to do something. There are different names for such a crucial urge. I decided to think about it in terms of contamination, in the sense of an assemblage of different relations, a sense that Artaud unfolds in Theatre and the Plague:

Just as it is not impossible that the unconsumed despair of a lunatic screaming in an asylum can cause the plague, so by a kind of reversibility of feelings and imagery, in the same way we can admit that outward events, political conflicts, natural disasters, revolutionary order and wartime chaos, when they occur on a theatre level are released into the audience’s sensitivity with the strength of an epidemic.22

In the model of medicine, contamination normally designates a radioactive radiation, a disease, a contagion which can even be lethal, something that at the very least seriously impairs corporeal functions. Thinking about the implications of such transformations, I wondered what is happening in a contamination and started to consider the model of a virus. Imagine a body amidst other bodies; there’s an environment and all of a sudden a virus is floating around and you incorporate this kind of “foreign body” into your own body, to speak here with the metaphors of immunology. The term contamination, however, is used only for what follows. According to the medical model of a contamination, it basically takes into account the negative effects of a transformation.

This fact compelled me to think the moment of a contamination itself. Methodologically speaking, science is still not capable of grasping this particular moment. I probably won’t be able to give a final response to this complicated question either. Still, it is interesting to question a concept of contamination in terms of time. What is the timing of a contamination precisely if we think it in relational assemblages and in complex structures? We know that contaminations can have long-lasting consequences, yet does contamination really happen in the very moment or could it also act within duration? As a slow process? Another direction for thought would be to think of contamination in terms of production.

The next step in reflecting contamination as a form of transformation led me to think of theatre and, more precisely, about the model of catharsis as a specific relation to the audience in theatre. The model of catharsis as a transformation is juxtaposed to a concept of contamination: it literally signifies purification. What happens in the discourse on catharsis? In the theoretical discourses on catharsis you can be very affected as a spectator, but this affect does not really transform the subject. Erika Fischer-Lichte has pointed out this fact when reviewing the connotative undercurrents in the discourses on catharsis: somehow the subject always remains intact. This fact is indeed questionable for me. What does intact mean? Catharsis transports an image of a transformation which is just an interior redirection of something which then disappears.23 A transformation without physical harm. Catharsis, thus, turns out to be the exact opposite of a contamination, since it only takes up the positive effects of a transformation: the affect-showered, educated citizen leaves the theater.

I wanted to think the following question: what happens if we do not separate transformation and effects? Without knowing whether this is possible, and whether I will manage to do so, I wondered about an appropriate instrumentarium for it. The concept of contamination became intrinsically linked to this thought-operation; it became its name. And, if we go further back, beyond this separation of transformation and effect, trying to understand the contamination of a body within its environment and the relations that compose it – and it is of course Spinoza who allowed us to think the body in relations24 – then a contamination no longer appears to be the mere negative effect of a virus: it is first of all constitutive of any life. A contamination allows for assemblages, alliances, and relations of all kind, and that is the reason why I try to outline a concept of contamination as the power to assemble.

One can thus say that the concept of contamination poses the issue of catharsis anew, though neither in terms of the psychological reorganization of a preceding subject nor in terms of a tangible effect without consequences. Instead contamination ties the disruptive effect of catharsis back to the transformations through which it emerged. It indicates the manner in which the spectators are involved and affected – even at the threshold of perception – without being effected. As the power to assemble, contamination is the intrinsic relation to an exteriority; it constitutes a middle, a milieu, which undoes the dichotomies of internal and external, productive and receptive, material and immaterial.

Another interesting aspect appears when thinking contamination in terms of an involuntary participation. When conceptualizing contamination within the frame of choreography, my claim is definitely not that a performer or a performance would actually want to contaminate me. Nor do I want to dip deeper into the discourse, where it is enough to conclude a show with phrases like “I was utterly touched by it.” It is crucial here – and I insist on the importance of this dimension – that theory takes into consideration this particular impetus, from which I actually start to act and think. Methodologically and de facto, it rarely does so.

I cannot lay out this aspect here in its entirety, but this is precisely what Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari did in their collaborative books with their method of transcendental empiricism: this is exactly the project.25 Let me just give you Marc Rölli’s concise formula, which adeptly portrays Deleuze and Guattari’s transcendental empiricism: “Hence the sensible can only be thought if it is ideally conceived as that which can only be sensed.”26 It recommits to the problem of empiricism, namely that one can neither derive our experience only from the experience, nor deduce thinking from thought alone.27 We have to think that which forces us to think and oblige this thought to engage with the empirical at the same time as the empirical is already engaged in this thinking. One could also say that they are inseparable, otherwise thinking would stop being thinking. Committing to this obligation in writing concepts means the following: consider that which makes you write these concepts and put this very concern into the concept. This is how Deleuze thinks: reach out for that which insists in its repeating differently.

It was the same with sensibility: the contingently imperceptible, that which is too small or too far for the empirical exercise of our senses, stands opposed to an essentially imperceptible which is indistinguishable from that which can be sensed only from the point of view of a transcendental exercise. Thus sensibility, forced by the encounter to sense the sentiendum, forces memory in its turn to remember the memorandum, that which can only be recalled. Finally, the third characteristic of transcendental memory is that, in turn, it forces thought to grasp that which can only be thought, the cogitandum or noeteon, the Essence: not the intelligible, for this is still no more than the mode in which we think that which might be something other than thought, but the being of the intelligible as though this were both the final power of thought and the unthinkable. The violence of that which forces thought develops from the sentiendum to the cogitandum.28

Implicating this impetus of thought within thought also leads us to that metaphysical point of any acting that Oliver Marchart sets forth in his text in this volume: to pose yourself as if I were the subject of my actions.29 It is this crucial aspect that transcendental empiricism allows the thinking of, thereby touching on the very limits of subjectivity and agency.

2. Articulation

My second response to the question What Can Choreography Do? is this: it can articulate. I will now move to this second concept of my thesis, articulation, which concerns the qualitative transformations of sense.30

Returning to the question of how to write about dance and performance, I reviewed the existing methods in dance and performance studies. There was a broad range of methods, but I couldn’t do away with a profound reservation concerning the very point of departure of these methods, that is, their inexplicit catalogue of assumptions: what does it mean if we speak about a performance by saying that it stages a concept, transmits a message, or that something speaks out of it? My problem with this way of approaching choreography is that it reduces choreography to language, to a semiological manner of speaking about things.31 In his cinema books, Gilles Deleuze has clearly spelled out this critique of a semiological reduction with respect to cinema.32 If one argues that cinema equals an utterance, one changes the materiality of cinema as much as its matter of concern. I was perplexed when realizing that a lot of texts followed this schematic equation between choreography and language without questioning it.

However, leaving this critique aside, how can we speak about choreography? Obviously it is not my claim not to speak anymore. What is it actually that makes sense in choreography? How can one implicate the very affect through which the choreographic procedure differentiates, this power to assemble that I have named contamination? Alternatively, one might think toward deviating the problematic underpinnings of semiological conceptions of sense when basing the analysis of choreography on the analysis of movement. There are a lot of interesting methods for movement analyses, for example, Labanotation.33 However, the moment you presuppose movement as method for your analysis, you run into the same erroneous assumptions. Imagine, for example, applying movement analysis to the performance of Saša Asentić and you will find out quickly that it does not lead far.

Something at the very basis of these methods had to be rethought, and, more precisely, this something concerned the relation between language and movement. Articulation, so it seemed to me, allowed for a moving away from a representative way of thinking dance according to which the methodology actually depends on a preliminary decision about the object of this qualitative transformation of sense.

Maybe I can best explain my idea by describing an image that appeared right in the beginning of my thesis when tackling this problem. Imagine bending an arm in whatever way. Like this, or like this (repeat the voting gesture from the beginning). A double movement becomes visible in an articulation: one in which you perceive the whole arm, and another one in which you focus on its segmentation into parts. This image triggered my interest, because when doing this (bending my arm) there is no reason for my shoulder to represent my hand. More generally speaking, it is extremely difficult to think representation in terms of articulation.

Another interesting aspect concerns the characterization of an articulation: for an articulation to be characterized, it is not enough to describe a positional change of my hand to my shoulder. What makes this articulation happen and what defines it depends on how I articulate, whether I use muscular force, for example, (show the movement with muscular force), a torsion (do it with a torsion), or fluidity (accordingly). Consequently, the characteristic features are tied up in the intensity of an articulation, in the quality of transformation within the articulation.

However, this initial image of a physical articulation, which helped thinking the relation between its segmented parts in terms of differentiation and quality, could not suffice yet for a methodology, since it would merely posit a physical counterparadigm to the semiological model. It would be a methodological antithesis which finally cannot account for the transformation of sense within a performance, or for the transformation of the expression of a performance. Scrolling through concepts of sense and concepts of signs, I decided to elaborate the way in which Saussure’s semiological sign-concept essentially differs from Deleuze’s sign concept.34 I was thinking of Saussure not only because he was the founding father of semiology, but also because he was very concerned with the material implications of his sign concept, although he was eventually unsuccessful at maintaining the material part of the sign.

Deleuze, for his part, actually shifts the meaning and the impact of signs in his concept of the sign. Deleuze goes further and, with regard to this presentation, one could say that he embeds the contamination of the sign in the sign. Accordingly, he argues that a sign is not what it signifies, but, to make a long story short, a sign of intensity. In this sense the Deleuzian sign can be said to signal a “deterritorialization or a reterritorialization” before it signifies something.35

Saussure’s concept of the sign, on the contrary, functions quite differently. In order to explain his concept of the sign Saussure uses the image of a sheet of paper. On the recto of this sheet of paper is the signified concept, whereas the verso stands for the signifying phonic or material side. According to this image of a sheet of paper, the two sides of the paper, recto and verso, are glued together. Yet the problem with this image is that you cannot think the glue. According to Saussure, making a sign through the utterance of language means cutting a certain form out of this sheet of paper; a form in which the signified already matches the sound image. What makes these two sides become adhesive and glue together escapes from this theory.

This aspect is highly important and, again, it is with Deleuze that one can pinpoint this argument: we have to think that which actually compels us to receive a sign. So we are thrown back again into thinking ourselves in a relational assemblage, experiencing the differences in the way we can conceive signs. It is important, then, to go a step further, not only to ask how to make sense, which is Deleuze’s argument, but to explain how to make sense with signs. In other words, to explain how the Deleuzian concept of the sign as an intensity can signify. If I only take the Deleuzian sign as material verso of the signifying part of the sign or as the reason for the sheet of paper, I cannot explain this signification. That’s the point where a concept of topology becomes necessary. As a branch of mathematics, topology tries to characterize dynamic and differential spaces which are no longer determined through static properties but through the way in which they are affected by qualitative transformations.36

Although I have to shorten here, let me mention that articulation is double in two ways: it entails, firstly, the double movement of differentiation and composition and, secondly, a double articulation of content and expression, both of which continuously feed back into each other. As much as through the differences in intensity, the articulation proceeds through a differential composition which has to be conceptualized in a topological way that is abstract enough to preclude the splitting up of signification and embodiments.

What can this articulation do? From my perspective, it relates back to the initial question of opening the field of dance to other articulatory practices, of thinking differences and how they actually compose with differential systems, and, last but not least, of leveling the hierarchy between linguistic and movement practices. Both concepts, contamination and articulation, can thus determine the processes in which we are permanently assimilating exterior stuff and enable a thinking of relational assemblages in both directions: as an opening that allows for assembling (contamination) and as a differentiation or individuation that becomes explicable through the notion of articulation. In this sense, the concept of contamination and articulation become reciprocally linked, and it is their relation, their differential, which allows for accessing choreography with a methodological consistency that does not rely on values attributed preliminarily.


Choreography & Participation. Beyond Representation: Participation and the Sensible

Often, we understand by participation an active or voluntary decision, such as in the vote. But isn’t that a highly restricted notion of participation? Since participation, once we go beyond its representations, is something entirely richer. We participate in many ways in this society, ways which function differently, which are sometimes anything but deliberate. There are involuntary participations. They are involuntary not because we don’t want them, but because they don’t need our will to operate. Invisible operations, participations, which often gain their visibility through the body when we suffer from something, when our schizophrenia finally becomes apparent, or when there are intercellular migrations of other kinds.

There are molecular participations, osmotic relations, minimal procedures, constitutive of our bodies, but still extremely difficult to understand in their interplay, in their complexity. We are permanently appropriating exterior stuff into the relational assemblages we are, themselves echoing within the environment, relating to our circumstances, becoming circumstances of something else . . . whether or not we are able to conceptualize all of these, we already partake in them with every breath. Now, closely interrelated to these involuntary or molecular participations, there are intensive participations that Deleuze calls “unnatural participations”37: We feel, we are affected, we love, we are utterly compelled by something, contaminated. All of these are qualitative transformations, becomings, alliances with contingent encounters. Lastly, there is our involvement within economies.38 We participate in very different, heterogeneous economies indeed: the economy of a body is different from an art market, for example. The economy of the cell differs entirely from the economy of a feeling, which differs from the economy of a performance. All of these participations are “productive” all the time, but what does this mean? Can we speak about these participations in a non-esoteric way that differs from saying that everything constantly transforms into something else, itself modulating into something else which modifies?39 Is a precise naming of these processes enough to think these participatory fields?

I don’t really have an answer to all this. But I fear that we do have to try to dig into the complexity of these participatory relations at the intersection of a bodily assemblage and a larger field of production. One possible pathway seems geared to thinking in Toscano’s terms of individuation.40 But at the same time, individuation or differentiation can only be conceived from within the relations and non-relations they are.41

I would like to conclude now – embracing what André Lepecki developed yesterday, when he spoke about the passing of a passivity into an agency – by saying that every different distribution of the degree of power within this larger field of participation is far more political than every representation of it, since it implicates our agency, or better, assembled agencies which necessarily pass through passion, passivity, and potential toward their actualizations.42 Why then, amidst all the participations and relational assemblages we live in, be concerned with the participatory offer of singular performances, or more precisely, the singular participatory relations to which they give rise? Because they experiment precisely with that part of the affair, which is experimental in theater, that is, in short, the sensible.

Thank you for your attention.

1 This subscription to democracy is explicitly directed against what Jacques Rancière calls the “new anti-democratic sentiment.” Whereas my argument here criticizes the short circuit of equating participation in politics with the mere representation of political participation, Rancière’s concept of democracy is noteworthy at this point since it characterizes democracy not as a form of government or society but as an action: “Democracy is neither a form of government that enables oligarchies to rule in the name of the people, nor is it a form of society that governs the power of commodities. It is the action that constantly wrests the monopoly of public life from oligarchic governments, and the omnipotence over lives from the power of wealth.” Jacques Rancière, Hatred of Democracy, trans. Steve Corcoran (London: Verso, 2006), pp. 3, 96. For Chantal Mouffe’s critique of the “post-political” and its “consensual form of democracy,” see Chantal Mouffe, On the Political (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 3.

2 Petra Sabisch, Choreographing Relations: Practical Philosophy and Contemporary Choreography in the works of Antonia Baehr, Gilles Deleuze, Juan Dominguez, Félix Guattari, Xavier le Roy and Eszter Salamon (München: epodium, 2011).

3 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy? trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (London: Verso, 2003), pp. 5–34.

4 Deleuze describes this process of conceptualization in relation to his empiricist method: “Empiricism is by no means a reaction against concepts, nor a simple appeal to lived experience. On the contrary, it undertakes the most insane creation of concepts ever seen or heard. Empiricism is a mysticism and a mathematicism of concepts, but precisely one which treats the concept as object of an encounter, as a here-and-now, or rather as an Erewhon from which emerge inexhaustibly ever new, differently distributed ‘heres’ and ‘nows.’ Only an empiricist could say: concepts are indeed things, but things in their free and wild state, beyond ‘anthropological predicates.’ I make, remake and unmake my concepts along a moving horizon, from an always decentred centre, from an always displaced periphery which repeats and differenciates them.” Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, (London: Continuum, 2001), p. xix.

5 Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, pp. 21–27.

6 Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, pp. 157–166.

7 The relation between, on the one hand, Deleuze’s ontogenetic approach (relying on a theory of the potential of relations) and, on the other, the actant-network theory by Bruno Latour (relying on an occasionalist concept of time) is most intriguingly elaborated by Graham Harman in Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (Melbourne:, 2009), pp. 99–228.

8 Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham/ London: Duke Univ. Press, 2002), pp. 3–4.

9 For Henri Bergson’s critique of the cinematographic mechanism as mere snapshots of movement, see. Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell (New York: Dover Publications, 1998), p. 308: “The movement slips through the interval, because every attempt to reconstitute change out of states implies the absurd proposition, that movement is made of immobilities.” As for Bergson’s insight into the indivisibility of movement, which is closely related to his own and Deleuze’s concept of becoming, see Bergson, “The Perception of Change,” in Henri Bergson: Key Writings, ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and John Mullarkey, trans. Mabelle L. Andison (London: Continuum, 2005), pp. 264–265: “Let us, on the contrary, endeavour to perceive change as it is in its natural indivisibility: we see that it is the very substance of things, and neither does movement appear to us any longer under the vanishing form which rendered it elusive to thought, nor substance with the immutability which made it inaccessible to our experience. Radical instability and absolute immutability are therefore mere abstract views taken from outside of the continuity of real change, abstractions which the mind then hypostatises into multiple states on the one hand, into thing or substance on the other.” For Deleuze’s reading of and commentaries on Bergson, see in particular his book Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Zone Books, 2002); and the first volume of his cinema books, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (London: The Athlone Press, 2001), pp. 1–12, 56–70.

10 See Saša Asentić’s text in this volume.

11 The performance My private biopolitics by Saša Asentić, premiered in 2007, was shown within the frame of the conference. It is authored and performed by Saša Asentić, assisted by Olivera Kova²evi²-Crnjanski; with theoretical support and dramaturgy by Ana Vujanović. Production: Per.Art, Novi Sad. Coproduction: Centre National de la Danse, Paris; Theorem Dance Residencies, The FaMa in Belgrade & Dubrovnik. The piece is accessible on the website search/search?q=my+private+biopolitics

12 This issue is taken up in Bojana Cvejić’s text.

13 Karl Marx, “Productive and Unproductive Labour,” (Addendum 2, Capitalist Production as the Production of Surplus Value), in Economic Works 1861–1864, works/1864/economic/ch02b.htm#484: “It emerges from what has been said so far that to be productive labour is a quality of labour which in and for itself has absolutely nothing to do with the particular content of the labour, its particular usefulness or the specific use value in which it is expressed. [484] Labour with the same content can therefore be both productive and unproductive.” For Deleuze’s involvement in Marxist theory, see e.g. Difference and Repetition, p. 186, as well as Nicholas Thoburn, Deleuze, Marx and Politics (London: Routledge, 2003), especially the “Introduction” on Deleuze’s project “La Grandeur de Marx.”

14 Rodolphe Gasché, Of Minimal Things: Studies on the Notion of Relation (Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press, 1999), p. 4.

15 These qualitative transformations, which characterize the methodological query of my thesis, strongly call to mind Miriam Engelhardt’s book—in particular the first chapter—that I discovered only after my publication: Engelhardt, “Veränderung als Bewegungsbegriff,” in Deleuze als Methode. Ein Seismograph für theoretische Innovationen durchgeführt an Beispielen des feministischen Diskurses (München: Wilhelm Fink, 2008), pp. 19–36.

16 Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, p. 18.

17 See the last part of this text.

18 In regard to these models of agency, Deleuze’s assemblage theory (agencement) and the actant-network theory of Bruno Latour seems most productive to me; see Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass./ London, England: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 288: “Action is not what people do, but is instead the ‘fait-faire,’ the making-do, accomplished with others in an event, with the specific opportunities provided by the circumstances.” According to Deleuze, an assemblage is “a multiplicity which is made up of many heterogeneous terms and which establishes liaisons, relations between terms, across ages, sexes and reigns—different natures. Thus, the assemblage’s only unity is that of co-functioning: it is a symbiosis, a ‘sympathy.’ It is never filiations which are important, but alliances, alloys; these are not successions, lines of descent, but contagions, epidemics, the wind.” See Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues II, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (London and New York: Continuum, 2006), p. 52.

19 See Xavier le Roy, Product of Circumstances, 1999. For the literature on this performance, see Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, p. 32. For my analysis of the performance, see pp. 32–66.

20 See Petra Sabisch, “Körper, kontaminiert. Ein Versuch mit Randnoten zur Performance ‘Product of Circumstances’ von Xavier le Roy,” in de figura. Rhetorik – Bewegung – Gestalt, ed. Gabriele Brandstetter and Sibylle Peters (München: Wilhelm Fink, 2002), pp. 311–326.

21 For the lecture-performance Contaminated, see e.g. Pirkko Husemann, “P.S.: Kontaminiert: Gedanken zur Aufführung einer Nachschrift,”, Access: 7 February 2005.

22 Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double, trans. Victor Corti (London: Calder & Boyars, 1981), p. 16–17.

23 Erika Fischer-Lichte, “Zuschauen als Ansteckung” in Ansteckung. Zur Körperlichkeit eines ästhetischen Prinzips, ed. Fischer-Lichte, Mirjam Schaub and Nicola Suthor (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2005), p. 49.

24 Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics, ed. and trans. Edwin Curley, introduction Stuart Hampshire (London: Penguin, 1996). For the definition of the body as power to affect and to be affected, see, for example, 70 (III, D3) and 569 (IV, 39 Proof). For Spinoza’s letter on “blood and lymph” in which he explains the body’s relations to the exterior circumstances and forces, see Spinoza, “Letter 32,” in Complete Works, trans. Samuel Shirley, ed. Michael L. Morgan (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2002), p. 849: “Hence it follows that every body, insofar as it exists as modified in a definite way, must be considered as a part of the whole universe, and as agreeing with the whole and cohering with the other parts. Now since the nature of the universe, unlike the nature of the blood, is not limited, but is absolutely infinite, its parts are controlled by the nature of this infinite potency in infinite ways, and are compelled to undergo infinite variations.”

25 For my analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s method of trancendental empiricism, which subtends all of their writings, see Sabisch, “Transcendental Empiricism: Deleuze and Guattari’s method,” in Choreographing Relations, pp. 67–93.

26 Marc Rölli, Gilles Deleuze. Philosophie des transzendentalen Empirismus (Vienna: Turia & Kant, 2003), p. 37 [translation by the author]. See also Rölli, “Virtuality and Actuality: A Note on Deleuze’s Concept of the Event,” in Deleuzian Events: Writing/History, ed. Hanjo Berressem and Leyla Haferkamp (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2009), p. 75: “The new image of thought envisioned by Deleuze is distinguished by thinking thought only with regard to its encounter with signs that perplex and stimulate it, that affect it from the outside and force it to act. The initial point of this process is the being of the sensible, sensations or affects, whose degree of intensity is the result of passive synthesis of singular points that are not mentally coordinated. The sensations that can only be sensed are not to be classically interpreted as immediate givens of consciousness. They elude representation and thus are not the subject of a simple, but of a radical empiricism.” In this translation as well as throughout my thesis, the English term sensible is used in terms of that which relates to the work of the senses and to that which makes sense. For a commentary on this usage, see Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, p. 7, fn. 3.

27 For Deleuze’s notion of the transcendental and the virtual, see Rölli, Deleuze. Philosophie des transzendentalen Empirismus, p. 40: “With the notion of the Virtual, [Deleuze] succeeds in conceiving a transcendental region that does not evolve from doubling the empirical and therefore does not determine the a priori order-forms of experience as abstract domain of possibility. The essential difference is localized where the transcendental differs from the empirical and the virtual from the actual. This difference does not preclude the actualization of the virtual structures and the determination of the transcendental conditions as genetic conditions of experience. Nonetheless the empirical results of these constituting procedures do not match the procedures themselves.” [translation by the author].

28 Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, p. 177.

29 See Oliver Marchart’s text in this volume.

30 For the following argumentation, see Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, pp. 95–143.

31 Sabisch, Choreographing Relations, pp. 98–100.

32 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta, (London and New York: Continuum, 2008), p. 26.

33 Rudolf von Laban’s cinetography, also entitled Labanotation, relies itself on a dynamic and vectoral sign that relates to the kinesphere of the body. Moreover, Laban’s cinetography entails a broad range of signs for intensity, scales of verve, gradients of lability, side-currents, and inclinations, which make it most interesting for a philosophy of differential relations. See Rudolf von Laban, Kinetografie–Labanotation. Einführung in die Grundbegriffe der Bewegungs- und Tanzschrift, ed. and rev. Claude Perrottet (Wilhelmshaven: Noetzel, 1955); and Principles of Dance and Movement Notation (London: Macdonald & Evans, 1956).

34 Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, ed. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, with the assistance of Albert Riedlinger, trans. Roy Harris (Chicago: Open Court, 1986). As for the critical edition, see de Saussure, Cours de linguistique générale, ed. Rudolf Engler, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1967).

35 It is precisely in relation to artworks that Deleuze develops his concept of the sign as an intensity which strikes us. See Deleuze, Proust and Signs, trans. Richard Howard (London: Allen Lane; Penguin, 1973), p. 29: “A work of art is worth more than a philosophical work; for what is enveloped in the sign is more profound than all the explicit significations. What does violence to us is richer than all the fruits of our good will or of our conscious work …” As signs of intensities, they are, as Deleuze and Guattari argue “signs of deterritorialization and reterritorialization.” See Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. and foreword Brian Massumi (London: Continuum, 2004), p. 75.

36 Sabisch, “How to Make Sense with Differential Compositions: Toward a Topology of Articulations,” Choreographing Relations, pp. 129–143.

37 See Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, pp. 266–267: “We oppose epidemic to filiation, contagion to heredity, peopling by contagion to sexual reproduction, sexual production. Bands, human or animal, proliferate by contagion, epidemics, battlefields, and catastrophes. Like hybrids, which are in themselves sterile, born of a sexual union that will not reproduce itself, but which begins over again every time, gaining that much more ground. Unnatural participation or nuptials are the true Nature spanning the kingdoms of nature. Propagation by epidemic, by contagion, has nothing to do with filiation by heredity, even if the two themes intermingle and require each other. The vampire does not filiate, it infects. The difference is that contagion, epidemic, involves terms that are entirely heterogeneous: for example, a human being, an animal, and a bacterium, a virus, a molecule, a microorganism. Or in the case of a truffle, a tree, a fly, and a pig. These combinations are neither genetic nor structural; they are interkingdoms, unnatural participations.”

38 Compare Majid Rahnema’s critical insights into the economic instrumentalization of participation as a “productive resource” for development, a manipulation which narrows the issue of participation down to the size of an “economic participation”: “In its present context, to borrow from Karl Polanyi’s description of the modern economy, participation has come to be ‘disembedded’ from the socio-cultural roots which had always kept it alive. It is now simply perceived as one of the many ‘resources’ needed to keep the economy alive. To participate is thus reduced to the act of partaking in the objectives of the economy, and the societal arrangements related to it. […] For the modern construct of participation, a person should be part of a predefined project, more specifically an economic project, in order to qualify as a participant.” See Rahnema, “Participation,” The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, ed. Wolfgang Sachs, (London & New York: Zed Books, 2010), p. 132.

39 Markus Miessen’s scepticism toward an all too well-intended, “enabling” notion of participation (still referring to the deliberate decision of an active subject) shall be emphasized at this point, first, in terms of criticizing this charity jargon and second, in terms of rendering visible those lines of force that underpin the different processes of participation. See Miessen, The Nightmare of Participation: Crossbench Praxis as a Mode of Criticality (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011), p. 54: “In this context, the question seems to be: Why is participation mostly understood as a consensus-based, deliberately positive, and politically correct means of innocently taking part in societal structures? It further raises the question of whether there’s a need for an alternative model of conflicting participation that attempts to undo the romantic nostalgia of goodness, and sheds light on the issue of critical intervention.”  [My emphasis]

40 I thank Stefan Hölscher for drawing my attention to this. See Alberto Toscano, The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation between Kant and Deleuze (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Toscano’s thoughts concerning individuation can be set into resonance with Deleuze and Guattari’s prominent becomings, which appear as arepresentational individuation processes forming a specific multiplicity-in-process composed of heterogeneous relations.

41 Such a concept of participation goes beyond the notion of “participatory art,” whose major concerns from the 1960s onwards—activation, authorship, and community—were elaborated by Claire Bishop in her “Introduction: Viewers as Producers,” to the book Participation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), p. 12. Nonetheless, these three concerns still reverberate with the present concept of participation when it unlocks authorship as an issue of agency, the idea of a closed whole as collective parts, and when it decomposes the representation of an activity to the capacity for acting otherwise.

42 Spinoza’s concept of the body as a relational one whose capacities can be determined adequately only in terms of differential degrees of the power to affect and be affected is seminal for Deleuze’s thoughts about increasing activity: “Hence the properly ethical question is linked to the methodological question of how we can become active.” See Deleuze, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, trans. Martin Joughin, (New York: Zone Books, 1990), p. 221. In this context, passivity, the capacity of feeling or suffering, relates as much to external forces as it relates to passion and to potential actualizations. Viewing all the different agencies of a relational assemblage, their multiplicity, one has to drop the static idea of simply opposed states as well as the idea of a closed whole, which, once again, could neither explain these states nor the way they transform into one another. As soon as one goes beneath the representations of participation (i.e. beneath decision making, controlling, and deliberate subject-identity), the issue of participation is revealed as an issue of parts, a negotiation of partially involved relations, or better, of plesiochronous differences of involvement. For a conception of participation as synchronization of parts, see Kai van Eikels, “What Parts of Us Can Do with Parts of Each Other (and When): Some parts of this text,” Performance Research, 16:3 (September 2011) “On Participation and Synchronization,” pp. 2–11. Unlike Eikels, who argues that due to the indifference of aesthetic subjectivity there is, “strictly speaking, no participation in the aesthetic event” (p. 6), the present text opts for thinking participation in view of the perception and agencies of these parts.

  • Tanz
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Deutsch, Englisch, Französisch

Petra Sabisch

ist Philosophin und Choreographin. Derzeit unterricht sie Dance Studies an der Justus-Liebig Universität in Gießen.

Stefan Hölscher (Hg.), Gerald Siegmund (Hg.): Dance, Politics & Co-Immunity

This volume is dedicated to the question of how dance, both in its historical and in its contemporary manifestations, is intricately linked to conceptualisations of the political. Whereas in this context the term "policy" means the reproduction of hegemonic power relations within already existing institutional structures, politics refers to those practices which question the space of policy as such by inscribing that into its surface which has had no place before. The art of choreography consists in distributing bodies and their relations in space. It is a distribution of parts that within the field of the visible and the sayable allocates positions to specific bodies. Yet in the confrontation between bodies and their relations, a deframing and dislocating of positions may take place. The essays included in this book are aimed at the multiple connections between politics, community, dance, and globalisation from the perspective of e.g. Dance and Theatre Studies, History, Philosophy, and Sociology.