IT IS A BECOMING, A HYBRID, A MONSTER. TANZQUARTIER WIEN, "THE SKIN OF MOVEMENT", DAY 3.
By Sabina Holzer
It was evening three. Kattrin Deufert and Thomas Plischke had a one hour session with the title “thinking training”, followed by “50 years of dance” by Boris Charmatz / Musée de la Danse and afterwards a talk moderated and with an initial statement by Gerald Siegmund talking with Boris Charmatz and Janez Janša, whose performance “Monument G2” was shown the night before.
I entered the “The Skin of Movement” with rereading the different statements about choreography on corpus. It was again an inspiring journey and I printed out a few to take with me. Finally I decided to take Boyan Manchev's statement as a companion through the third night.
”What does choreography mean today?” – It is clear that we cannot provide any more substantialist or formalist answers to the question “what is choreography”. On the other hand, to just describe some amalgam of practices, which supposedly compose the volume of the notion “choreography” today, would be a tautological operation. The only possible perspective to reflect on the proposed question seems then to be the functional one. In a functional perspective the question “What does choreography mean today?” could be spelled as following: What is choreography doing today? Why? What does this doing stand for?
The philosopher's duty is to work with concepts. He has then to take the risk of proposing a conceptual answer, so short that it has to be necessarily formalized.
Choreography is an operation of singularization, that is of invention-production of singularity, or of a singular form of life. This operation involves the planes of perceptive and reflexive (e)motion and power. The agents of the operation of singularization could be identified as producers, performers, spectators and institutional agents. These positions are structural and not substantial: they could be indiscernible at any moment of the operation of singularization.
It is common today to speak of the political tasks of choreography. We should avoid though understanding this statement only in the sense of representing in critical perspective political matter (for instance, the spectacular critique of media spectacularity or the representation of irrepresentable violence and pain), because the logic of representation is the inherent logic of the politics of sovereignty. More than that, choreography has a proto-political potential, that is to say a potential to oppose the politics of sovereignty. If theatre, the arch-political art, which presents, according to a logic of substance and individuals, the redistribution of the common by which sovereignty is instituted (and in which even today its grounds remains mythical), choreo-graphy operates with the tekhnai of singularization in the void of the common as with pure forces. The body appears in this void not as a conglomeration of signs or as a substantial organic power, as the topos of the immanent excess of life; it takes place as a multiple operation of (dis)organization of its tekhnai, that is of singularization-operation, through which the space of the common is re-composed. The actual meaning of choreography is then thinkable also as a counter-operation of transformation of the standardized modes of production of subjectivity, that is to say of codification and commoditization of body, perception, reflection and emotion in the polit-economical circuit of the global perverted capitalism, which attempts to reduce the horizon of the world to the overexploited space of the globe.“ (#21)
Going over the evening now I decide to make a leap and interfuse his statement with some points of Gerald Siegmund's opening of the artist talk at the end of the evening.
Through his lecture of historical texts and in relation to the reconstructions of Janez Janša and Boris Charmatz, Siegmund talked about the notion of choreography being developed in the Renaissance out of a fear of loss. Choreography as a way of trying to work with and on this final absence: if the choreographer dies, if the dancers die, (to whom this knowledge was passed on), what would then remain to continue the work, to let it exist throughout time?
In this way choreography is related via writing (notation) as a trace for a primarily physical absence. In this fear of loss lies also the specificity of the choreographic process, Siegmund suggests, as it deals constantly with a potential instability of disappearance.
In reference to Manchev's statement I would add that the potential instability not only relates to the final absence but also to the moment of becoming. Choreography as a mode of using traces to relate people, to organize the community of bodies, to produce a kind of society not only to overcome the fear of death but also to make a future possible. This possible future is organized in contemporary choreography not primarily out of the fear of chaos and disorganization, but as a possibility to open a potentiality, to stretch out into the future.
The reflection of the past – which is always scattered and never known – is used to set up coordinates to bring something into existence. – Transforming the project of being through the generation of becoming of the actual in terms of the elaboration of the virtual, and of intelligence through the intervention of intuition.  Embracing, dealing with the unknown of a future to come, – as a counter-operation of transformation of the standardized modes of production of subjectivity, that is to say of codification and commoditization of body, perception, reflection and emotion in the polit-economical circuit , thus with an awareness of implications of aesthecial regimes.
“It is like shooting, but there is no target. Hopefully the target will appear. But you never know. And if it appears maybe it is a monster”, Janez Janša said during the talk.
Shooting into the future is like breaking the silence. This sound is a collapse of space and time as we can think it. Shooting is an act of violence. If you shoot with a gun the material of the target gets destroyed. You get an explosion, a fragmentation, a shattering. What remains are traces. But maybe Janša also refered to Amor, whose silent arrows evoke love, insight, ect.
Men also invented how to shoot with the photo camera to freeze time, to keep a fragmented moment which is often composed and pretends a wholeness. (And it is whole in itself, but it is something else than it was.)
Janez Janša and Boris Charmatz choreographed a becoming with different traces of fragmentation.
Whereas Janez Janša with “Monument G2” did not have any good or clear photos, Boris Charmatz used the photographic work in David Vaughan’s book “Merce Cunningham – 50 years of dance”.  The Photos are very elaborate, highly crafted, and transmit impressions of Cunningham's œuvre. They are an homage and very different from a quickly-made documentation.
This time Charmatz  worked with former dancers of the Merce Cunnigham Dance Company. Some of them knew the whole choreography behind some of these specific moments on the photos. The situation conveyed the perfection of the photos into a display of bodies in different ages and conditions. The entries and exits copying the photographs became a choreography which was performed fast and with exquisite fun by the dancers.
Gerald Siegmund mentioned that the pose, the still is the figure working with the instability, the fleeting moment in dance. The pose is the mimicry of the dancer in relation to a (geometrical) order. In this frightful fear there is also the moment of self-reflection within the posing. In older choreographies it is also mentioned as the gaze in the face of Medusa. Death, standstill, terror and insight of one's own position are at stake in front of this terrible sight.
Janša worked with the memory of two performers who did the original performance “Monument G“ by Dušan Jovanović, as a base (and discovered that they just could remember 18 minutes from 40). He gathered information through documents of writings and photos, applied the practice of duplication and translation.
He brought two young performers on stage as doubles with the two older ones to interact with, himself being the double of Dušan Jovanović, trying to make a double of the performance. Janša described his work on the reconstruction as archeology drawing from different sources and alluded to the complex process of unfolding. Documents are never the original, even if they are less fragmented than the traces he revisited. One has to hand the material over to the process of time and open space for the immediate, the playful and the hybrid.
There is always tension within a choreographic process when the body / material (not object) has to meet the abstract code, a trace (be it writing, images, words). This meeting is also a step into the unknown and unpredictable.
Facing non-redundant forces, facing impossibilities and the impotence arising therefrom is the base for the artistwin Kattrin Deufert and Thomas Plischke for their training, practice and way of producing.
For them training is research to nourish the process of art making. In this way the physical aspect and the awareness of the thinking process – which does not necessarily have to stop while moving – is equally important and interlinked. The questions what do I need, what do I want, what is necessary for research, teaching, performing, for the artistic process? are stimulated by the request that students also should create their own training.
Another important element of their training is to insist that the body is not owned by oneself and therefore always unknown. The body comes from another place (birth) and goes to another place (death). This otherness is intrinsic, and meant to be dealt with and listened to. This offers a relational distance towards the phenomena of the body without dominating concepts.
In the physical approach, as Plischke demonstrates by using some anatomical images, one also looks to the function of the different body parts and elements, falls through an unfolding complexity of functions and interconnections. In the process of getting to know more and more the image is erased, the static gets blasted. Knowledge circles around an elusive illustration, which becomes an informed reference to become active with.
The artistwin applies systems of constant exchange: between each other, between teachers and students, between practice and theory, between image and movement, between factual and imaginativ. So it is in a way approximate that the human metabolism is part of their investigation.
And: One could use the term metabolism as metaphor for the process of contemporary choreography and dance, as it is the set of (chemical) reactions that happen in living organisms to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments.
Which is a becoming, a hybrid, and maybe a monster. Hopefully one does not want to shoot, but to receive it with amazement.
 Bergson, Deleuze and Becoming (44)
 Statement by Boyan Manchev
 have a look at corpus: Merce Cunningham at CORPUS - WIRBELSÄULE
 Boris Charmatz used the same approach with art students, dancers and amateurs.