[dance-tech] Re: March-April Discussion forum on dance/performance and participation

  • From: Alexandre Achour <a.achour@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Michele Danjoux <michele.l.danjoux@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:17:22 +0200

Thank you for sharing the materials. I am not familiar with the work of
Johannes no, I am discovering through the flow of conversations on this
Yes there is not much of Judson Church in your work, I think reading you I went
somewhere else in my imagination.

I thought to share these 2 paragraphs from Public Sphere by performance from
Bojana Cveijc and Ana Vujanovic. They offer a base to discuss about
choreography and expanded choreography, maybe it helps us in our conversation.

Choreography stresses the design of procedures that regulate a
process—chemical, physical, algorithmic, political, and diplomatic, in the
examples above. This observation resonates with choreographers’ and
performance-makers’ current theoretical, self-reflective obsession with
methods, procedures, formats, and scores.

The relation between choreography and proceduralism arises from two premises.
The first states that the expanded practice of choreography entails a shift
from the bias of the body and embodiment to procedures, or how processes are
structured and operated in time. The second holds that procedures aren’t just
instruments of governance; by and large, they define actions and attitudes in
general, which allows us to treat them as a logic, a thinking model, an
ideological apparatus. Unpacking the aforementioned registers of procedurality
may help us understand what choreography means when it is used outside the
strictly artistic and aesthetic realm of dance/performance.


Le 13 avr. 2015 à 14:40, Michele Danjoux <michele.l.danjoux@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> a
écrit :

Hello Alexandre,

Thank you for responding to my post.

There are some parallels I believe that can be drawn with the Judson Church
era but in a way, I believe my intention to be quite different and my
aesthetic (which can shift dependent on the theme) is entirely different. I
have worked with Johannes in DAP-Lab since 2005 on our shared explorations
into movement / choreography, wearables and interactivity. Perhaps you have
already seen some of my work if you are familiar with the work of Johannes.
Here is a link to our 2014 performance entitled for the time being. It was
based on the Russian Futurist opera Victory over the Sun and is a free
adaptation. You will see that the aesthetics relate to Russian Futurism,
Suprematism and Constructivism but that the characters we create deviate
somewhat from Malevich's originals.

here is the link:


The movements have all emerged in relation to the wearables, their palpable
presence and interactive and sounding potentials.

Best Regards,

On Mon, Apr 13, 2015 at 9:57 AM, Alexandre Achour <a.achour@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
<mailto:a.achour@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

Michelle would you have any links that you could share with us? It would be
interesting to see a video. What you say resonates very much with judson
church era : gesture and quotidian movements, I might be wrong reading you,
that’s why I would like to see more material. It seems like a 2010’s upgrade
of some of their ideas of choreography I find it interesting, therefore I
would be interested to find out more about it. I hope it’s ok that I ask you.

Le 12 avr. 2015 à 18:34, Michele Danjoux <michele.l.danjoux@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
<mailto:michele.l.danjoux@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>> a écrit :

On the subject of the "expanded" and "cooping" but less to do with
collaborative or participatory art at this stage, I wanted to share my own
work with wearables as movement initiators for performers. I do hope this is

Expanded choreography (expanded cinema, expanded sculpture), expanded
design… I come from a design background, co-creating with artists from other
disciplines (dance, performance, film, sound art, media arts etc.) within
contemporary dance and interactive performance contexts. In the work I do,
design co-opts to create a form of expanded choreography. I could also argue
that choreography and movement co-opt to create an expanded from of design
due to the reciprocal nature of things. When design strategies are applied
and “wearability” is involved i.e. wearable technology, wearable
scenographic design, costume etc., (where interactive potentials, touch and
palpable presence exert their influences on the body) and are present from
the outset of the performance-making process, movement can emerge as a
result of “wearing” and “wearable” stimulus, and as a result, wearing
becomes a method for performance-making. Weight, tactility, materiality,
form, aesthetics and so on act on the body sensorily– and through an
evolutionary process movement and/or gesture is enabled to flow in certain
ways through the things that touch, liberate or restrict the body in motion.

I also work with sounding garments and wearables where sound is activated
through movement and gesture thus appealing additionally to the aurality of
the performer-wearer. New sonic dimensions are brought into play here for
the dance/performance offering further movement stimulus.

This expanded approach offers movement and choreography new ways to emerge
through a relocation of emphasis to the body of the performer (away from
audience) concentrating first and foremost on this prior to any
participatory element for the audience. I do believe however that through
augmenting the performing body physically and experientially in a one-on-one
interrelationality of body and things/object a certain expansion of the
performer’s reach into the space is afforded which ultimately might touch
the audience members differently.

I am finding the discussion very stimulating, thank you.


On Sun, Apr 12, 2015 at 3:58 PM, Alexandre Achour <a.achour@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
<mailto:a.achour@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

Yes you are right the term "artificial hells" comes from André Breton, and
here is a short article on participation which is extremely interesting to
read, one of the most exciting texts that I read on participation actually,
it’s also from Claire Bishop, but she has more of an overview on
participation to ask the question where are we now? (which is actually the
title of the essay) : http://dieklaumichshow.org/pdfs/Bishop.pdf
Ana Vujanovic also has very interesting texts, not directly about
participation but about politics in art and art in politics : Vita


There is also a book by Ana Vujanovic and Bojana Cvejic , public sphere by
performance, which also talks a lot about the expanded field of choreography
and how to understand it nowadays in our scene.

I am glad that you found the concept of our performance interesting, I think
that our performance creates conditions in which audience have no choice but
to imagine the stories, in this way it is quite intrusive, but I also think
that any kind of performance participatory or not will always think of the
experience of its audience. Some would then talk about manipulation, but
then we might arrive to a dead end with this thought, concluding that all
performances are manipulative, when in fact it just is the nature of
performing arts to do work to be experienced live, and therefore to set the
best conditions for this experience. I don’t know how you discussed in your
previous conversations "democratic modes of participation" and in relation
to which works or contexts, but in the example that I studied in the
research, when dealing with democracy it always is addressing a very
specific aspect, I am thinking for example :

Democracy in America by Annie Dorsen, where she had people buying elements
of the performance before hand online, as a way to address capital in
seemingly democratic procedures.
On trial together by Sasa Asentic and Ana Vujanovic, where they wanted to
create conditions for direct democracy, I explain it in a very simple way,
but this performance is great : I recommend to watch the link :
City Council Meeting by Aaron Landsman, where he reproduced a city council
meeting based on real scripts from real city council meetings, and audience
would choose the role they want to play, and read / improvise the scripts.

I understand that when you say « democratic modes of participation », you
don’t talk about a performance, which content wise addresses democracy, but
it has to do with the social and political frame that the performance
creates for its audience, regardless of the content. I would be interested
Johannes to read more of your thoughts about this and what works do you have
in mind when you say this?


Le 10 avr. 2015 à 16:05, Johannes Birringer
<Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>>
a écrit :

Alexandre's most stimulating post raises a number of pertinent issues we
could discuss here, and I invite everyone warmly to respond, even if only

- First, yes, thank you for mentioning Claire Bishop's book on
"Artificial Hells" - any thoughts by those you have looked at current
theores of "relational art" or participatory performance? delegated
performance, "outsourced authenticity? "Bürgertheater"?
I think the book's width & depth, historically and conceptually, is
rich; I liked reading about Russian proletarian mass performances
(Proletkult), factory agit-prop, and so on, compared to dada, shock and
insult tactics; happenings, or thinkings wth the body ((c.f Simone Forti
-- body-object improvisations, shown recently at a great exhibit in
Salzburg), etc. and the various western avant-gardes you also mention
(well, Soviet apt-art is another matter, back in the 1980s, clandestine
participation deserves more debate of course, as it implies a more rigid
state controlled/dictatorial "art" system or culture system
requiring/twisting other horizons of expectation, unlike the neoliberal
affluent first world capitalist art market where now museums can play at
performativities and invite the Tino Sehgals to hire, persuade and delegate
their "interpreters" to participate with us)..... But I looked and looked,
and did not find an explanation for what these "artifical hells" are?
Then I noted a citation from André Breton, where the term is from, where
Breton speaks of going beyond dada trying to scandalize the audience.
"Scandal," he says, " for all its force...would be insufficient to elicit
the delight that one might expect from an artificial hell" [p. 70] ??

-- your piece about the "ghost" of participation -- ghost stories --
seems a brilliant idea, and of course I thought of Nilüfer's commentaries
here, about Jeannette's working through her memory of apartheid (and her
first dancefilm amnd her nudity getting forbidden), about the asymmetries
mentioned here earlier, in the ostensibly "democratic" mode of
audience-participatory engagement, community activism, Schlingensief-like
provocations (the enlisting, in the so-called citizen theatre, of real
workers, refugees, illegal immigrants, rape victims, social

-- you then speak of: >>Choreography is understood both in our performance
and in the performances that inspired the stories in terms of body images,
behaviour of the audience, and relations between human beings as social
subjects. In the stories inevitably comes forth the illusory, utopian and
destructive character of participation.>>

yes, this was one of my fearful doubts, about the 'democratic' principle of
participation, namely that the " illusory, utopian and destructive
character of participation" breaks through; and then what do we make of our
efforts to prepare this or that immersive and engaging and multisensorial
and cognitively challenging atmosphere (here I want to come back later to
the way in my lab group's work we are exploring architectural and wearable
ideas of what we call "kimosphere"- asking whether a space can be shared,
an environment listened to without the anthropocenic tendency to make it
succumb to be con-sumed)? when does participation become a genre, or
affirmative, or indeed destructive? when is design coopting? what/who is
being aligned?

-- and what are newly evolving understandings of "choreography" --- I
believe both Jeannette and Alexandre, but also others here -- Sandra please
tell us more about your dramaturgies -- have already made strides
towards a very expanded field of choreography, would you agree? (and
please remember expanded cinema, and expanded sculpture].

Johannes Birringer

[Alexandre Achour schreibt]

There are many different topics in your last email that are for me
interesting to discuss, you asked me about examples of participatory
practices that were radical and subversive, I can for sure talk to you
about the examples that we used for our own performance « Speaking about
the ghost », but I’m also working on a documentation of the research that
we made in order to share it, so I will make sure to share it on this
platform as soon as I am done. In any cases, my recommendation is the book
« Artificial hell » by Claire Bishop.

The other question that I also find interesting to discuss is how to
understand those terms « radical » and « subversive ».

And lastly the notion of actualization also came up in your email Johannes,
which was also part of our own research process, can those past
participatory performances be still subversive nowadays? Do they still have
the same potential to move people?

Other related posts: