Wednesday, August 19, 2009

at HMKV / synoptic

I am one of a group of artists at the project Synoptic: Twilight Zone (weblog) a project initiated by Hungarian art-manager & curator Hajnal Szolga in Dortmund, Germany, August 14th-22nd.

Media-designer & sound artist Bence Samu of the Hungarian duo binaura and I are working on a video-setup which visualizes the spatial patters of my movements. Bence maintains that a human presence is always infinitely more sensitive, I'd say it's a shared thing: the apparatus that is designed for a single function may be at times much more sensitive than what I can perceive at a moment, but it is my presence with the witnesses of the event that gives sense & meaning to evaluate what is happening.

While it is wonderful to be in a project where I function via German, English and at finally again also Hungarian, it is an inspiring environment. All the artists working here have a very quiet but vibrant energy, which I find very stimulating.

I am developing a dance score for the final showing August 22nd. For now I am thinking of several phase where I transform from daily movements (with the audience) over movements from the state of looking from the corner of my eye, into geometric figures and into internal movements. It seems that I am ready to work from a purely kinetically oriented dance (as happened in "Bivak Gloria" in Antwerp 2007) to adding a personal-social level. Also, the question of how to successfully move through the geometric figures is very exciting, without losing myself into stiff figures or imitations of what I once learned in the Rotterdam Dance Academy.

The exhibition in which we work centers on the phenomenon of people trying to communicate with beings from other dimensions, especially the dead, by means of electromagnetic devices. not an easy task for average-enlightened Western-Europeans, it is a scary topic, loss of control threatens, it is much safer to ridicule any such attempts, and forsake the holy aspect in it (and not lessen this word into quotation marks around it)

One of my aims is to lessen the fear of the unknown, which I find to be a key issue here in this process. How do we actually maintain whatever control we have, but are able to open ourselves for new experiences beyond what we already know. How does one manage to overcome indifference?

It terms of development, what I am working on means a move from available tension to sensitive energy. In order to achieve this I will have to satisfy the level of available tension, be able to play with tension more maturely than what I've been able to do so far, even more refined, more under my control, and more inclusive of the option of geometric spatial patterns and hard-edge moves.

Yesterday I saw a British video-documentary about Steve Reich and decided that after using music and visual arts and language as my main frame of reference for methodology, it could be very interesting to devise a frame of reference from kinesthesy & dance (again)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tariq Ramadan and the city of Rotterdam - a failed atempt at open-ended thinking?...

Recently there has been a considerable deal of controversy about thinker and writer Tariq Ramadan in the city of Rotterdam in The Netherlands where I have been a long-time resident since 1992. Ramadan was hired by the city-council to be a bridge-builder against the vastly multi-cultural population of this city. He has been accused of discriminatory tendencies against women and homosexuals when speaking internally to Muslim communities.

In January this year Joris Luyendijk conducted an interview with Ramadan for the Dutch tv-company VPRO, which in the Netherlands has a position of bringing very sophisticated and artistic contents (comparable for example to Arte in France and Germany or the flemish-Belgian Canvas)

Being gay myself I felt very concerned, but I also remembered this interview.
So I decided to review it and fortunately it is still available on the internet
I tried to be as alert to hidden character and meanings as possible and let come to me whatever would.

My first conclusion after having reviewed and listened to both speakers as openly as I could is a confirmation of a first thought that I had: with the effective refusal of Tariq Ramadan here in Rotterdam, a first attempt has been failed to more introduce open-ended thinking that could indeed have prepared the discussion for bridging by creating an open zone in which no single view or code is the only and all-powerful formula or rule.

I noticed how Mr. Ramadan was constantly being interrupted by intervieuwer Luyendijk in a fashion that from my experiences in Korea I recognize as nearly rude, even if unintentionally so. Second Mr. Luyendijk clearly seems to remain in the old Eurasian concept of functioning within a single, claimed homogenic, monoculture, which actually has troubles to understand or deal efficiently with the complexities of life in this dimension on this planet, as well as the in-congruities of its own contents, which after all are temporary results of insights and deep wisdoms that can help live and survive well, but in themselves of necessity are finite and will have to be adapted some time in the nearer or farther away future to be able to cope with the vast complexities and not-yet understood phenomena that are perceived as manifested as part of our universe (and which keep on expanding over time...)

(I've argued earlier that one of the tasks of an artist to a certain extent is always to help to some degree the further understanding of these phenomena, by dealing with sensory thinking and communication, be that in any cultural setting, or combination and balance of phyiscal senses)

Mr. Ramadan seemed to be able to maintain his balance (or "keep his face") rather well and focus on what would create a certain consensus, enough to keep on exchanging, and maintaining his stance and causes (also representing himself in the Dutch media). His emphasis on what he said was expressed in what he said was his favorite verse from the Quran, one in which the stars and the desert (and arguably all natural phenomena) are accepted as teaching elements, as well as his learning of silence in the desert, and therefore a better understanding of when is a good moment to speak, seemed very congrous with the more general quest of re-balancing our cultural patterns from our sensory thinking processes, something which for myself are key-features in the project of modernism / post-modernism / the holistic phase after post-modernism. Ramadan further demanded that respect would have to be based on letting the other act despite disagreeing. And that respect (or tolerance for that matter) does not have to mean that one fully accepts (or emphasitally agrees with) or understands why somebody else is doing something very different, nor necessarily agreeing with the decision why, but to maintain the basic right of the other to exist.

To continue this thought by myself, to accept that no matter how repulsive somebody else might be, there is something that connects us and that I, if I manage to, can gain an advantage from dealing with openly, without upholding a single view of how things should be done, is a positive thing. To not cut off dialogue too soon, to remain in connection.

While such a stance places an enormous strain on ethics (just thinking of so many actions by multinational corporations, governments, companies and individuals that maximize personal profit at enormous and tragic long-term general costs) this demand rather fits into the openness of re-balancing cultural values and creates an open space where all of this happens. In the ongoing process there is a chance to consequently draw conclusions which may differ from previously drawn conclusions.

(The tasks of educations would be to offer and explain these previous conclusions to a new generation so that they can continue the myriad of experiments about living and survival strategies.)

When dealing with people who firmly remain in closed, mono-cultural settings and maintain them, it can become very difficult to maintain one's own knowledge or develope it further, as the abilities of the partner are then decisively limited to those particular cultural settings, which can make the tolerance of a very different kind of cultural settings extremely difficult and thus severly limit the possible moves that can be made together, also in the perspective of power, how much a NO can be used to cut down the power / existence / express of somebody else.
(especially when that partner will not allow any digression or move away or beyond the reasch of such cultural settings)

If this is indeed a great misunderstanding, fed by Dutch inability and refusal to face the rest of the world from an insular focus on one's own life being difficult enough and 'the other' being merely interesting as a potential object for personal gain and survival, be that through trade or colonialism - then it was indeed a great move forward, but then I am also ashamed as an European Easterner that I am part of a society where the beginning of opening up more dialogues on a long-term basis is immediatly cut off from a single viewpoint, no matter how sophisticated it may think itself to be. Moreover I feel ashamed in the face of a cosmopolitan such as Mr. Ramadan who if this assumption of mine is correct (and that remains to be seen...) has been brought into a rather un-sophisticated and backwaterish, provincial atmosphere of local Dutch politics and qualities.

My subjective estimate of Mr. Ramadan was that in many ways he may share the anti-gay and traditional gender ideas. But I would have chosen to emphasize what could connect us in a win-win situation longer, his quest for understanding in complexity, his feeding of this ability to complexity by maintaining for himself a very set range of values to retreat into from time to time and to affirm his own existence, only to be able to come out again when in dialogue with a stranger, and being able to be open to learn something substantial or minor from that encounter, which always is there, but up to us to realize, whether this realisation is immediate or takes many decennia of slow accumulation and finally a resulting move. And to be reminded again that none of us has the one-fits-all solution (again we all as a Universy might just be the solution already, that's why it's so hard for a single person, to create and maintain a livalble balance within it)

Addition May 1st: Even then it could have been interesting to give him one or two more years and observing him, to find out what is happening, be very alert ... and perhaps bother to learn Egyptian Arabic, rather than choosing to remain on an intangible hegemonic stance of Dutch as the dominant language to which the others in this country must adapt.

And so we keep moving on and yes it is a struggle between all these differences, intelligences, traditions, patterns. A basic understanding for people who like Mr. Ramadan and myself have moved between different cultures can be that there is something to be gained in everything and that this is a pity to underestimate, and up to personal discipline of again and again trying to understand anew, opening up closed patterns from a deeper trust and allowing alien information to enter, being trained in dealing with it and working with it over a period of time until another temporary conclusion might appear. potentially being a more effective one than its preceding conclusion - trusting that others do the same and do this in directions different from one's own, which is precisely an enrichment, because that way nobody has to find out everything by her or himself exclusively but we all together are working out some really exciting, but also important questions, whether they are conscious or unconscious.

To believe in movement could be to affirm this quest - not caring whether / inhowfar it makes sense against what is already there (The Universe is its own answer, its movement the fuel that brings asking questions)

As my teacher Ciel Werts used to say ,movement is contagious (affirmed by thermodynamics, I'd guess)

It is my hope that whatever movements were created by the activities of Tariq Ramadan, that eventually they should help further the understanding of unconceivable complexity and nurture this maturity and sophisticated discpline further. As he'd leave Rotterdam, it will be to others to continue, with all faults, and errors, hopefully with not too catastrophic consequences.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Again, deeper sensitivity

Last weekend I could attend and perform at the evening "Atat de Frageda..." [So tender] in memory of extraordinary Romanian producer and key-figure for the development of contemporary art and dance Gabriela Tudor, who I was informed was an instrumental figure to establish many organisations in Romania and abroad and to foster artistic development and creativity, partly also with her husband, choreographer and executive director Cosmin Manolescu, a.o. The Cultural Foundation "Proiect DCM". Manolescu and fellow-choreographers Florin Fieroiou and Andreea Capitanescu also presented works, together with music performances by Harry Tavitian & Jürg Solothurnmann, as well as music-duo AIEVEA.

What struck me about the evening, but especially the presented dances, was a very special blend of crisp rational clarity with deeply embodied sensitivity manifested in the dancers as well as the choreographies. Whether it would be Fieroiou's dreamlike atmosphere, presented with excellent clarity by dancer Carmen Cotofana to a haunting soundscape by Vlaicu Golcea, or the almost quotidian movement/dance poetry of Andreea Capitanescu, who performed her piece herself. Even with Manolescu's more theatrical and pop-culture oriented work, there was this undercurrent of sensitive understanding, which got its moments to appear and be manifested in the moment of performance. His dancers, Madalina Dan, Paul Cimpoeira, Eduard Gabia, and Mircea Chinea showed clarity as well as kinesthetic centeredness and multiplicity that could go many ways, from playing tennis to articulating diverse levels of tension and dramatically aware presentation and interaction with the audience (both Dan and Gabia also choreograph works of their own as well)

I really wish I'd see dance like this more often, also here in my home in the Netherlands, but was also told that this was a very select group of people, due to the relation of the evening being a memorial for Gabriela Tudor and her amazing pioneering work for the arts. I thought at some point that this sensorial centeredness and rational clarity could be something envisioned and prepared by the original members of the Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s. In fact seeing the two solos I was reminded of the film-registration I'd seen of Yvonne Rainer performing the phrase from Trio A, which I find to be very vulnerable and poetic, even if I'd suspect that Rainer herself would strongly disagree with such a reading.

It seems to me like such a positive move to more sensitivity, less hard-edge is a sign of growing maturity, especially against the backdrop of ever more commercialised, non-vulnerable, or just appearing-vulnerable art, which fails to meet the demands ("Use it [well] or loose it") and creates ever more poverty and stress that exacerbate the conditions even more, a waste-land, socially, ecologically, emotionally. (But maybe for a happier society that is finally matured to be more anarchistic on the outside, due to more sophisticated discipline by each of its members on the inside, as hinted at in Ursual K. LeGuinn's "The Disposessed") Then, somewhere in the middle of that, somewhere a beginning of a flower - but without water...

I find it is a rare quality to meet artists who dare to say yes to their very unique kind of sensitivity and work it successfully into performances. This experience has encouraged me to take my own moves into this direction more seriously and create more personally related work. I believe that in order to reach at a successful embodiment of such sensitivity, it is necessary to no just say yes to being vulnerable, less hard-edge and 'representative' but also strength and work to give the specific situation and conditions what is needed to bring the moment and energy across for witnessing audiences.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Killer Star

a song by David Bowie from 2003, for the vibes of a New New-Deal ...

See the great white scar
Over Battery Park
Then a flare glides over
But I won't look at that scar

Oh, my nuclear baby (One who spotted a star)
Oh, my idiot trance
All my idiot questions (Like the stars in your eyes)
Let's face the music and dance

Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I never said I'm better, I'm better, I'm better
Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I never said I'm better, I'm better, I'm better, I'm better than you

All the corners of the buildings
Who but we remember these?
The sidewalks and trees
I'm thinking now

I got a better way - I discovered a star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - A new killer star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go

I got a better way - The stars in your eyes
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - I discovered a star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go

See my life in a comic
Like the way they did the Bible
With the bubbles and action
The little details in colour

First a horseback bomber (Who discovered a star)
Just a small thin chance
Like seeing Jesus on Dateline (Like the stars in your eyes)
Let's face the music and dance

You'll never say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I never said I'm better, I'm better, I'm better
Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I never said I'm better, I'm better, I'm better, I'm better than you

All the corners of the buildings
Who but we remember these?
The sidewalks and trees
I'm thinking now

I got a better way - I discovered a star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - A new killer star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go

I got a better way - The stars in your eyes
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - I discovered a star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Story of Stuff

A very actual example for problems that come up when a thought-system is incomplete but has very real consequences for the real world:
The Story of Stuff 20 minute video performed by Annie Leonard.

There are several versions with subtitles in different languages available here:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. >>> SENT BY JULI GABOR working on her new kinds of dance in Denmark...

What it has to do with (new) dance?
i think it's quite simple:
dance too has its (thought) patterns and ideologies that are given from the older generation to the younger generation. And here, too, those thought patterns can create very real problems when they get put to practice, but don't really match too well with the actual situation: for example, the number of professional dancers in classical ballet and its modern derivates, who continue to work with serious injuries and a high level of pain, even when they are still in their education, is staggeringly high according to much research. So much for one kind of thinking ruining natural resources (kinesthetically driven imagination being one of them...)
Q.E.D. ...

another is the expectation-pattern of the mainstream that the energies of life would have to be canned into specifiable and recognizable dance and dramaturgy / drama / scenography patterns, presumably with very finitely rehearsed, often pre-fab derived dance vocabulary.
a lot of life-energy is put into these mechanisms - what's left for the moment of performance? how lively is such a piece in performance? how much individuality or orginality can be revealed, at the risk of being non-understandable?

how come that dance forms where individualism is not seen as important except for a few stars (e.g. in showdance) fare so well economically by comparison? (not necessarily when it comes to the wages of the dancers who participate in these circles, again unless they get to be a shining individual)?

and what about the laboratories where alternative kinds of dance are being developed and promoted? how much can they work towards a different future, how much are they bound by current mind-patterns and needs that are often those very left-overs from the past?...

* addition Feb. 10th:
all this said, I believe all the in-between choreographers who partly conform to standardized expectations, but manage to bring in their own liveliness, can be of extraordinary value in this situation. how much effect does their input have and what will be short-term and long-term effects. how long will it be sustainable for them and at what price?

collaborativeness, again, seems to be the winning strategy over merely just separation and seclusion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

per aspera ,,, ad astra :-)

long talk with Elaine Summers, for her show "Making Rainbows" at Anthology Film Archives, New York, March 28th starting 7pm

I realised that through my work as a human being, but also as a profesional in my field, I want to support those directions that help use our resources better, and I especially focus on the human bodymind, through Kinetic Awareness® and Open Form Composition.

With both I strive to express the delicacy of the human soul / spirit / mind at its most advanced and most refined, intelligent, lucky, intuitive.
To this means I improvise, as to catch the most ephemeral nuances and details, and let them live in the performance as much as possible. Open Form Composition helps me to approach this state by determining how much should be set to create a greater security in which this delicacy can be invited to happen and manifest itself in our present.

Kinetic Awareness® teaches me to re-search this delicacy in the million details of my body-mind sensations that happen when I move. By listening on and on, with hopefully ever more insight and understanding, and by moving from this listening with greater and greater sophistication, I hope to be able to become an embodiment of such delicacy and details, as well as energetic power, be it in the presence of it or openness for it.

This ability of using one's resources at the utmost, with great care, in a way that makes sense, given the current demands of our state as well, I believe we can get ready to approach to integrate the cosmic state of our universe better and better, through the most minute of details we can be capable of handling, noticing, sensing, dealing with, moving from and with....

Make it to the stars by noticing that one dimensional fold that will get us there in an easier way, being able to deal with being in space and left to our own resources more independent of the ecosystem of the planet on which we have developed.

The ethical side of it, as Mary O'Donnell-Fulkerson expresses in her coinage "ETHICAL REFORMATION" for this time, is just as important to me: to more and more incorporate the multidirectional vastness of the Universe into our own dimensions of living here, together, on this planet.

In that sense I believe that God or GOOD is the accumulation of what we learn from evolution that will get us further along that path of surviving in our existence well. (with ever the more abilities to realize our bodymind and its working ever more detailedly and fully)
And I believe that as we evolve also culturally, this is a changing understanding, actually a project-in-progress, of ever ongoing discovery, rather than a fixed entity or merely a projection as used by the less-mature self.

LOVE is another such project, we discover and refine it over the centuries, try out new possibilities and gather experience-data: does it work? does something else work better? in which circumstance? for which character? what about our biological heritage, how much does it count? when does it work well, when would we like to try an alternative? and how does that work out, short-term and long-term? etc. and so on and so on....