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What spoke to me as one of the central points of departure as to how the readings for this week conversed with each other is the complex way that artists of dance access this ‘art form’ and in the process, developed articulations that situated artists either in conformance, refusal or going against the breadth of neoliberalism. Kunst argued that art no longer needs to reaffirm itself as a socially relevant and valuable movement because the economy, in particular, locked it within ingrained capitalist and populist fabrication of value. What she asserted was that art has to rediscover its material basis and move into reclaiming its power to strongly associate the abilities of the abstract (thinking) with the actual abstractions (value, capital, time, money, etc. ). Her work mapped the evolution in the organization of labor, where she showed how the modernist claim that “the work of art and the work of life should be inseparable” has established itself in the core of the capitalist society. To strengthen her claim, Kunst searched for ways to reclaim ‘work’ and to unshackle artistic work from its neoliberal counterpart.
For me, her insightful analysis on how artist delve into work and her discussion on the pathways to rebel against the project of neoliberalism demanded the temporality of work as duration that has been particularly helpful in encouraging her readers to stop seeing art as something that may be measured in economic terms/standards and to stop treating art or any creative production for that matter as if one’s engagement into art fits comfortably in the usual conventions of work. She endeavored to break down the phenomena of intertwining the principles of the neoliberal economy and the organization of work in the world of art and she also emphasized the paradoxes in the art world just like how museums of contemporary nature, considered as active spaces of experimentation and discovery, can be placed side by side to the way that democratic authoritarian structures and other corporations functioned and communicated in contemporary times.
For her, seeing contemporary dance and performance art should encourage a fluid based orientation and engagement as opposed to a complete whole for it to be a practice that will push an individual to advocate for flexibility rather than ‘static-ness’ — turning the artist as an active participant and producer of dynamism in the social structure. Lepecki’s work furthered the inherent agency of dance by teasing out experimental dance as a mode of critical thinking to problematize neocolonial capitalist management over the projections of corporeality and subjectivity. The author laid out five directions in which ‘revolutionary’ choreography can gather or imagine a new community that projects singularities and express freedom beyond liberal individualism through the discussion of thingness, darkness, animality, persistence, and solidity. It showed how singularity inhabited events in which human and non-human bodies, affects, and temporalities “gather momentarily and peripherally, risking their recognizable identities for generating forms of coexistence. ” Lepecki proposed that choreographic experimentation has become a site as well as a method for the unfolding of singularities and through this, the entire social field is generated and sustained by experimental choreographic practices.
More so, the author showed how dance held the potential for transformative performances of selfhood and relationality. To render a microcosm through the lens of the historical development of somatics, Doran George traced how dancers used the idea of nature to tackle and confront changing social circumstances. Their work showed how dancers turned to nature in search of personal authenticity as a source of freedom. By engaging in the practice, dancers across the network believed that they have reclaimed an inherent right to individual creative freedom by displacing modern and classical aesthetics with dance based on the natural functioning of anatomical structures that decentered the rhetoric about nature and ended its supposed to be primary role as to how somatics came to be when artists became entrepreneurs in line with the economic culture that encouraged individualism in the 1980’s. This development of a somatic pedagogy has then introduced a new approach to acquiring facility at dancing that relies on the intensive study of anatomy and promotes an economy of motion in executing any action. More importantly, it showed how internal transnational connections that were formed in the realms of somatic practice supported the movement of U. S. expansionism on one hand and global capitalist values on the other.
One of the many instances that these connections of labor and the ease/unease involved between art and dance that I can relate with was when macho dancing in the Philippines became prevalent in the 1980’s as a performance that involved young men engaging in a stage performance inside nightclubs for a variety of audience. It has become an economically motivated language of seduction, rendering of gaze, and a complex positioning of the dynamics of body aesthetics, labor, and art using the notions of masculinity as a body capital. This specific Philippine phenomenon during that time seemingly generated a gender loop in which both the performer and the audience were entangled—reenacting social mobility and the desire for performance despite the reality of mobility as slippery, constrained and momentary in those spaces of performance.
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