Category Archives: Politics

Curating Constellations

Screendance makers and scholars often lament the lack of exhibition possibilities outside the common dance film festival format, that is annual competitive screenings that rarely diverge from a discipline-based curatorial approach and focus exclusively on new works of screendance. What might an alternative model look like? Papers and events have continued to revisit the question with varying degrees of success, exploring the setting and duration of screenings, as well as thematic programming, among others. On a recent visit to Liverpool’s Tate Modern, I was inspired by the exhibition ‘Constellations’, a show that organizes works of art into nine different ‘star clusters’, distinct sections arranged conceptually around one influential work designated as the ‘trigger’ :

…the displays offer a fresh way of viewing and understanding artworks through correspondences rather than chronological narrative.

 Acting as the originating ‘trigger’ of each constellation is one artwork that has been chosen for its revolutionary effect on modern and contemporary art. Each of these trigger works is displayed among artworks that relate to it, and to each other, across time and location of origin. Chosen for their similarity to, apparent difference from or transformation of the trigger work, each grouping creates an accumulation of relationships and meaning that extends the themes and concerns of the originating work. (

Imagine the exciting possibilities of experiencing screendance ‘constellations’ that engage in dialogue with one another across diverse eras, styles and formats. What would your first cluster of ‘stars’ look like? The ‘Constellations’ exhibition has certainly inspired me to reflect on alternative curatorial approaches that might allow my own work in screendance programming to provide audiences with a deeper and alternative exploration of the medium and its rich ongoing histories. For anyone interested in brainstorming further on the relationship between screendance and curatorial practices, the electronic journal OnCurating is an interesting resource: 

–Marisa C. Hayes

Tagged ,

Late-capitalist, image-and information-based economies

The following quote from Brian Massumi’s essay The Autonomy of Affect succinctly describes a contemporary urban scenario and TV-driven image culture which is also seeping into and informing current screendance practices. While it may appear sexy and exciting to be cutting from one body part to another and from one body to another, could this mode of editing not  be critiqued as a replica of a late-capitalist indulgence? On the other hand, as Massumi argues, is there perhaps a quest for virtuality hidden within the fold of the media mayhem, and the edit, an emergence of possible bodies and potential movements? An emergence “not of the categorical, but of the unclassifiable, the unassimilable, the never-yet felt, the felt for less than half a second, again for the first time – the new.”(1) As Massumi writes “the mass media are massively potentializing”, and so are screendance practices…. (2), perhaps this is a “play multiplied to infinity.” (3)

What is of dire interest now, post-Reagan, is the extent to which he contracted into his person operations that might be argued to be endemic to late-capitalist, image-and information-based economies. Think of the image/expression events in which we bathe. Think interruption. Think of the fast cuts from TV programming to commercials. Think of the cuts across programming and commercials achievable through zapping. Think of the distractedness of television viewing, the constant cus from the screen to its immediate surroundings, to the viewing context where other actions are performed in fits and starts as attention flits. Think of the joyously incongruent juxtapositions of surfing on the internet. Think of our bombardment by commercial images off the screen, at every step in our daily rounds.Think of the imagistic operations of the consumer object, as turnover time increases as fast as styles can be recycled. Everywhere, the cut, suspense -incipience. Virtuality, perhaps?

(Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect, in Paul Patton Ed, Deleuze, A Critical Reader, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers 1996,234)

(1) Massumi, 227.

(2) Massumi, 236.

(3) Massumi, 226.

Claudia Kappenberg
Tagged , ,

Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy (1869)

In a new series of BBC Radio4 entitled The Value of Culture Melvyn Bragg explores the idea and evolution of culture.

The programmes reflect on Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy (1869), described as one of the most celebrated works of social criticism ever written. It forms the basis for a new discussion of what we understand as culture, and how we determine its value. It returns to the question wheather the arts ought to be valued for their own sake, for their lack of use or for whatever else they might do in the world.

For a commentary by Claudia Kappenberg read her blog post.

Tagged , ,

Rethinking Capitalism, through dance

In this talk for The Bruce Initiative for Rethinking Capitalism Randy Martin reads dance in terms of sovereignty, rule, governance and capacity, and he reads capitalism through dance. He concludes by saying: ” Dance is straddling between two major strategies of art: the utopian which we have now brought from the distant spectacle into a kind of tactile form, and the interventionist, which is about methods, techniques and the means through which we achieve what we would like to become.”

How does this translate to screendance? It could be argued that screendance is utopian, in that it is the sphere of the imaginary, of invented space-time and mobility. But the screen can also scrutinize, mirror and confront. So perhaps it can equally be interventionist in that it looks back at us and at the everyday?

Tagged , , , , , , ,