Who are we and how can we share?


By Sabina Holzer

“This notional shimmering is equal to its ambition” [1]


During her “Explore” [2] with the title E N C HA N T É E S, a collection of studies (of joy and) of imagination, Alix Eynaudi opened the doors of Tanzquartier in Vienna (TQW) with a remarkable gesture. By inviting different groups of artists to share their research she created a field of inspiring transdisciplinary, transcultural exchange. These invitations were motivated by her desire to create a situation of “school-hood of sorts, a learning platform, a thank-you-dance, a spell. The spell of a dance waiting to be danced”. [3] Instead of show-casing the different elements of her trans-disciplinary stage work, she expanded her choreographic practice into the curatorial adventure of exploring an inclusive gesture of friendship as a mode of production.

“Friendship […] cannot be based simply on utility or pleasure, but must be seen as desire for the other to exist, as a desire for life, and for cohabitation within it.” says Céline Condorelli, advocating friendship “as a modality of social change, which can produce other forms of doing things differently, which are more than just about work”. [4]

“I tried to create spaces for the others to respond and to practice listening“, said Alix Eynaudi. In addition to a morning workshop held by her, four PhD candidates from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Virginie Bobin, Mihret Kebede, Olia Sosnovskaya, Eliana Otta contributed their artistic investigations in pre-evening sets. Sharing the space, performative thoughts and artistic research, another group of artists (Jamal Maatan, Ahmed Sabah, Negin Rezaie, and Catherine Wemimo Adeyemi) and the public were invited to participate and/or witness studies of words and silences, specific emotions, whispered touches and un/translations in the TQW studio [5] for a whole week.


It was an extraordinary and vital situation of interrelation and exchange which unfolded in a respectful and listening environment. Different languages, textures and voices could emerge and being expressed in relation to others. These encounters started at 6 pm and left plenty of space for the audience either to continue their evening or to stay for further questions and discussions at the TQW bar – which happened quite extensively. The entire week was acccompanied by the Vienna based choreographer, performer and publicist Claire Lefèvre and the Spanish writer, artist and curator Quim Pujol as “spell writers”.


“It is important to me to resist the tyranny of making sense”


The dancer and choreographer Alix Eynaudi has been travelling the lines and crossroads between dancing and writing, choreography and poetry for a couple of years. While connecting the movements of the mind through writing on paper with those of bodies writing in space, she developed a specific poetics in the way she approaches and treats people and things. [6]

Poetry as a major conjunction in her choreographic practice is also the base from which she observes and accompanies dance through writing. This has an inevitable impact on how a dance, a gesture, a body is read – as in poetry, one is always attuned to the potentialities of words and phrases. One enjoys that they might mean more and different things than they at first appear to mean, and how they ineluctably connect to the extra resources that lurk in the outer “fringes of language”. [7]


Poems make you read and dream at the same time. They combine the cognitive and the neuronal. “It is important to me to resist the tyranny of making sense”, Eynaudi says. “Academic structures shape our way of thinking and have the tendency to reinforce explicative thinking as a way of knowing. And of course we want to understand what we see, hear, feel and think. But sometimes these definitions of understanding go too quick.” Poetry for her “acts as way of slowing down and supports to evolve in the non-alignment of the words, the gaps and a kind of vertigo, which insists on the reader to take time.”


A reading which includes skin, ears, nose, eyes, and kinaesthesia


With a gentle air of concentration pervaded by subtle, sparkling lightness E N C HA N T É E S ended at Tanzquartier's Halle G as part of the series Parallel encounters – session #1 in G major für Alix Eynaudi curated by the pianist Han-Gyeol Lie. It was announced as a concert, with cocktails by the performer and musician Alex Franz Zehetbauer. The event was “dedicated to finding a common space in which collective artistic thinking can unfold” [8] and related to the idea of “Terzverwandte”, Han-Gyeol Lie wrote in the program. Terzverwandte “act as substitutes for the basic tone, as parallels or counter-sounds, as like-minded or opposed people who fly over the room in one key”. The text was written on a yellow and light-blue poster – actually a kind of folded cover to protect a drawing inside, but at the same time an envelope carrying the curious message of how this selection of compositions was created. [9]
This resonant flight was situated again in a shared stage space with a grand piano in the middle. The audience was invited to linger on platforms and cushions around it in close company with Han-Gyeol Lie and Alex Franz Zehetbauer. Han-Gyeol Lie exposed her getting ready to play as a silent ritual. Her precise gestures in combination with Zehetbauer’s mixing his cocktails created an exquisite, unexpected choreography with some clusters of the audience always in view as a backdrop. Space, time, action, dance, music, sound, visitors and performers intermingled and became part of an enchanted gesture – almost coincidental, yet very intentionally amplifying sensorial perception.


Cracks of sharp iciness from the cocktail mixing joined the compositions [10] related to the letter “G” of Halle G; scents of cool lemon wafted by, and suddenly a female voice appeared from the darker fringes of the space, singing so softly that one’s ears pricked up automatically. Enough time and space to let one's gaze wander around; enough to be inevitably captivated by Han-Gyeol's play; enough, but not too much time and space until this sensorial expanse finally is taken up by Eynaudi and transformed into a slow, attentive dance.


Slipping and sliding through conventional borders and categories


“An aesthetic revolution is not a revolution in the arts. It is a revolution in the distribution of the forms and capacities of experiences that this or that social group can share.” [11]

Why unfold a space through the agency of parallel existences and thought processes? Why advocate radical gentleness in doing so? With deliberate slow distraction, when gaze and awareness are not captured and focussing on one single object, different relations – and relaxation occurs. One might suddenly connect with sensorial adventures and unpredictable entanglements. Some people call this “dreaming”, others “problem solving strategy”.


The experience of such performances drags us right into the woven textures of realities. They stimulate tactile speculations and assign what any kind of touch our senses are exposed to, always implicates: relating the self to the other. Travelling the porous line between the quasi interior and the quasi exterior, the familiar and the unknown, the present and the future.


The whole event E N C HA N T É E S was also inspired by “Prefigurative Practices”, Eynaudi says. Prefigurative Practices first appeared as a way of doing politics by the social justice movements in the 1960s and 1970s. “Be the change you want to see” appeared as a pragmatic principle of organising social relations alongside political protests. “Prefigurative Practices” invite a constant ethical openness to the situation at stake and can thereby function as an antidote to actions becoming a spectacle and flattening into the symbolic plane. They attend to what is missing, that which is not present, paying respect to the specific ways in which this absence is configured. So processes of remembrance, transmissions, anticipation and imagination play a specific role within that approach.


So what is missing? What did Alix Eynaudi wish to include? A bigger variety of people, an exchange of different languages, a listening to strangers. And indeed different conventions could be experienced in this collection of studies (of joy and) of imagination with people who seem different and just around the corner at the same time. Alix Eynaudi applied a great sensibility for the apportioning of space, so that a poetry that touches the senses could arise. And the city became larger in terms of people and existences we are in relation with.


  1. ^ Anne Dufourmantelle, The power of gentleness, 2018 Fordham University Press, p.XV.
  2. ^ “Explore” is a format introduced by Tanzquartier Wien, where an artist is encouraged to share different aspects of their artistic work over five days in a row.
  3. ^ https://www.alixeynaudi.com/projects/e-n-c-han-t-e-e-s/
  4. ^ Nick Aikens, Polly Staple (eds.), Céline Condorelli: The company she keeps, Book Works / Chisenhale Gallery / Van Abbemuseum, London and Eindhoven 2014, p.37.
  5. ^ https://tqw.at/event/e-n-c-ha-n-t-e-e-s-eynaudi/
  6. ^ She will continue with this investigation within Austrian Science Fund (FWF) – PEEK Programme for Arts-based Research with her project Noa and Snow. https://www.alixeynaudi.com/projects/noa-snow-poem1/
  7. ^ Ian Blyth, Susan Sellers, Hélène Cixous: Live Theory, Continuum, London 2004, p. 68.
  8. ^ Han-Gyeol Lie, in the evening programme.
  9. ^ Graphic & Illustration: Miriam Trilety.
  10. ^ Coda rendition of the piano sonata in G major (D894) by Franz Schubert with music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Jane Birkin, John Cage, Georg Friedrich Händel, Gérard Pesson, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schönberg, Benedikt Alphart.
  11. ^ Mark Foster Cage (eds.), Aesthetics Equals Politics: New Discourses Across Art, Architecture, and Philosophy, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2019, p.8.