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Dance as cultural heritage

News: May 28, 2013

Hello Astrid von Rosen, former dancer and Assistant Professor and Researcher in Art History and Visual Studies at Gothenburg University, who presents the research project Dance as Critical Heritage at a seminar at the Department of Cultural Sciences May 30.

(Read original in Swedish here)

What is the project about?

-The project wants to create dance historical research on the 1980s non-institutional, or "free" dance in Gothenburg. A very exciting breakthrough took place in the mid-1980s, when dancers in yellow raincoats occupied the city. The choreographers and dancers Eva Ingemarsson, Gun Lund and Gunilla Witt led the dance group Rubicon. It was a strong artistic movement, with an interesting critical potential. There was openness to other art forms, while dance itself was emphasised in a new way. The events should not be thought of, as "yet some postmodern elements outside the city’s own dance." The events are locally specific and must be understood in context, but also as linked to international movements.

The project is part of the area of strength Critical Heritage Studies, focusing on heritage and archives. In what way?

- The project is situated within one of Critical Heritage Studies’ clusters, called Staging the Archives. It's about making the ”archive” active in different ways. Through the activation, a "performative criticism" can be done, which means to take on a material in a co-creative, decisive and reavaluative way. It is a question of creating mobility and allowing various materials and statements in a multifaceted dialogue instead of letting one omnipotent voice deliver something established. What we want to do circulates around translation, creativity and asking critical questions in the present, with the direction of the future.

- Assuming dance as cultural heritage, it is often said to be "ephemeral", ie volatile. A show is certainly over when it is over, but volatility itself should not lead to neglecting research on dance. Based on the performance scholar Diana Taylor's ideas, one could ask what is at risk on a political level, if it stands unquestioned that dance and bodily knowledge is something that ”disappears". Whose memories and whose heritage will be lost if only traditional text-based knowledge is immortalised? In archival research about dance, these issues become crucial, especially in relation to visual material.

How is the project implemented?

- In 2013 trans-disciplinary activity is set up where academics and practitioners from various fields can interact. Two visiting researchers have already been linked to the project and the cluster Staging the Archives. They will do different kinds of experimental work at the intersection of artistic research and the humanities that can be further built on. I am also in contact with several practitioners, like dancers and choreographers working outside the university.

- During the seminar on May 30, we will discuss how to create an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge with a focus on dance history research. There will also be a small, focused symposium October 28-29 for those who want to be involved in the project. Anyone interested in participating or who has questions should feel free to contact me. When the fall’s work is completed, the project will move into a second phase, focused on applying for funding for a more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary work.

What can the project contribute with?

- I think of several things. Firstly, it would be significant for a city like Gothenburg to start writing its dance history - today dance tends to become a kind of unconscious history. The project can help not only with ideas and inspiration, but also with substance and concrete research. It is not about History, but about many different stories. The project takes as its point of departure the "free" dance of the 1980s, but there is much more to do.

- Secondly, there is huge potential in creating critical tools based in research about dance and physicality - provided that you take art seriously. That dance has a critical potential has been known for a long time, but that realization can be made far more concrete here in Gothenburg. Today we speak of ”the affective turn” in the humanities and social sciences: a scientific approach that not only affirms the body, emotions and materiality, but also wants to work for social change. Turning to dance can increase the precision and creativity in this.

- A third thing I hope the project can contribute with is research that actually takes place in the intersection of dance practice, more traditional academic fields and artistic research. A fourth component involves the creation of connections across disciplinary borders as well as national ones.

What made you interested in this research?

- That could be a long answer, because different kinds of dance have been so important in my own life. Briefly, it is a knowledge project that started a long time ago, and that now has started to take form in an academic structure. Dance often ask questions that I find absolutely essential to human life, or the difficulties of life. How can we understand corporealities and silences in relation to the limits of language and the language's power? I'm not trying to translate dance expression to text in any simple way - it is impossible. What interests me is to work on the critical aspects of creation. By doing a project in which practitioners and academics have a conversation, I imagine different such aspects can be activated.

Choreographer Eva Ingemarsson and Monica Sand, artist and researcher, will also participate at the seminar. What will they talk about?

- Eva Ingemarsson was one of the pioneers in the 1980s, and she is still active as a choreographer here in Gothenburg. She will show material that is not in the official archive, and talk about some aspect of the 1980s dance, such as the impulses that led to Rubicon performing in the city. The issue of working inwardly with documentation material that today is rather outgoing will be discussed. Besides Eva, choreographer and dancer Marika Hedemyr will participate. She belongs to a more recent generation and is well versed in how the political structures affect local dance.

- Monica Sand is linked to the project as a visiting reseracher. She works with city interventions, departing from the concept of resonance. When the human body moves in a space it influences and is influenced by how different systems "reason". By this way of working, the project can start experimenting in the space of the city, for example by walking. Walking, which is so common and mundane, becomes a place for thinking and knowledge production.

- I will also present what the other visiting researcher, Marsha Meskimmon - Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History and Theory at Loughborough University in England - will be working with, which is a joint writing project where issues concerning dance research are executed. So far we have had time to go through - and it was really about "going"! – a placelessness that characterizes dance research in Gothenburg. The next step, well it will probably be about what is left out, excluded, in terms of dance history. If one perceives this exclusion as an image, it suddenly becomes a kind of scene. And it is on that scene that the archive can be staged.

For more information:
Astrid von Rosen, Phone: 031-786 2784, e-mail: astrid.von.rosen@arthist.gu.se

 

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Page Manager: Jenny Högström Berntson|Last update: 2/26/2018
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