Friday, 18 March 2016

Decapod/ THIS MOVEMENT: A reader

THIS MOVEMENT wonders how we might think of things like dancing and things like protests as being similar in some ways. It believes that both have an aesthetic and a political character and that aesthetics and ethics are two sides of the same coin.

These are not new ideas and here are a few other sources that you might find interesting or inspirational like I did.

'Dance and difference: Everyday practices for the future citizen' is an essay by Daniel Baker in the book The Future Citizen Guide published by Tate gallery after their Future Citizen Forum event in 2014. Baker was undertaking a three-year research project exploring cultures of dance amongst older people across London, combining anthropology, art practice and performance. I picked it up in the Tate bookshop last year and was really excited to read how he framed these kinds of social dances as a practices that "enable an open, exploratory citizenship." It's not that widely available but it's on my bookshelf (with a black spine).

Book of Recommendations: Choreography as an Aesthetics of Change is maybe the first book I read that opened me up to these ideas. It's a short but profound book (I have it on my shelf in the gallery) written by Michael Klien, Steve Valk and Jeffrey Gormly that reimagines choreography -- as an 'aesthetics of change', something that "assumes the creative practice of setting relations, or setting the conditions for new relations to emerge". You can read it online.

Susan Lee Foster's 2003 essay ‘Choreographies of Protest’ takes a look at three nonviolent protests in recent US history—the lunch counter sit-ins of 1960s (pictured above), the ACT-UP die-ins of the late 1980s, and the Seattle WTO protests in 1999 - asking of them the kinds of questions that a dance scholar might ask: What are these bodies doing? What and how do their motions signify? What choreography do they enact?

Jaana Parviainen's 2010 essay ‘Choreographing Resistances: Spatial-Kinaesthetic Intelligence and Bodily Knowledge as Political Tools in Activist Work’ is also worth reading, taking a similar approach, analysing three choreographies of resistance.

Adam Curtis's 2015 documentary Bitter Lake looks at how Western politicians tell increasing hollow stories rot try and make sense of an ever confusing world. He does this through a history of Western interventions in Afghanistan but what is particularly interesting for me is how he uses a motif of dancing (also worth looking out for the recurring images of smoke) to tell a literal and metaphorical story.  It's over two hours long but well worth it and you can still watch it on iplayer.

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