If I Can’t Dance presents Edition IV, with new projects in development by artists Jeremiah Day, Sung Hwan Kim, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Hito Steyerl and Emily Wardill, and the research programme Performance in Residence.
During the period of Edition IV (2010-2012), If Can’t Dance considers different approaches to theories of affect – a notion that not only concerns our emotional and emphatic relations with others, but also our ability to act and the possibilities for freedom or ‘manoeuvrability’. If I Can’t Dance would like to explore these aspects of affect in artistic practice and research. Our engagement with this theoretical concept emerges from our longstanding dedication to examine the fields of performativity and feminism(s). If I Can’t Dance started researching affect in its exhibition Art Sheffield (Life: a User’s Manual) in 2010. We have further explored the notion in our monthly Reading Group and in the workshops we conduct at the Dutch Art Institute/MFA ArtEZ.
If I Can’t Dance’s interest in affect can be understood as a field of research that illuminates and intensifies our projects, allowing for connections to be made where relevant. Within this context, each commissioned artist follows his or her own research path. Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s new project is the final in a triptych of works that looks at performativity and cultural production in terms of female agency, within the context of the current economical shift from industrial labour to affective labour. Sung Hwan Kim will be working on a new production that further explores aspects of sensuality and materiality, in collaboration with musician and singer David Michael DiGregorio during a working period at hetveem theater in Amsterdam this summer. Hito Steyerl continues her research into feeling in relation to power, in a work on epistolary affect and romance scams on the internet. Emily Wardill’s new film tells a story about a woman who constructs a house to accommodate the ghosts of people killed by the guns from her father’s firearm company. The work stands in the tradition of melodrama and is a collaborative effort that developed out of workshop situations with precarious groups in society. Jeremiah Day appropriates historical incidents to serve as allegories that might shed light upon broader philosophical and political questions, working between what Hannah Arendt called the “web of human relationships,” and takes ruins from the cold war as a departure point for his new project.
Parallel to these commissions, If I Can’t Dance has introduced a new programme titled Performance in Residence, which aims to connect archival research to practice. Performance in Residence ‘hosts’ a performance-related (body of) work for a substantial period of time, allowing a researcher to engage in an in-depth inquiry. If I Can’t Dance has so far initiated research trajectories with Guy de Cointet & Marie de Brugerolle; Isidoro Valcárcel Medina & Bulegoa z/b, Flávio de Carvalho & Inti Guerrero; and Matt Mullican & Vanessa Desclaux.
Marie de Brugerolle is working towards a collaborative restaging of Guy de Cointet’s play Five Sisters and in her research analyzes light as a producer of emotion. The Spanish collective Bulegoa z/b works closely together with Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, an artist who is known for establishing affective relations with his audience through his work. Their research revolves around a new work by Valcárcel Medina, and considers how his undocumented performances from the past entail an ‘act of belief’. Inti Guerrero’s research focuses on Flávio de Carvalho’s exploration of crowd psychology, individual subjectivity and the body in connection to the dancer Josephine Baker. Vanessa Desclaux investigates the hypnosis performances of Matt Mullican. In a dialogue with the artist, Desclaux concentrates her research on his interest in acts of empathy, personification, and the construction of characters in the field of theatre. Mullican himself is developing these interests in a new production. The introductions of these four researches have taken place the last months in different venues in Amsterdam; the outcomes will be presented publicly in winter 2011-2012 in the Netherlands and abroad.
The projects of the commissioned artists and researchers share an interest in the construction of subjectivity in relation to the people around us, and a sensibility towards the negotiation of intimate feeling in the public sphere. These projects are defined by long-term commitments and an enthusiasm to collaborate with others, expressing precisely If I Can’t Dance’s method of working from its inception in 2005.
The five commissions will be finalized and presented to the public in fall/winter 2011 in collaboration with our partner institutions M HKA in Antwerp, Serpentine Gallery in London, Site Gallery in Sheffield, Tate Modern in London, Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdansk, and hetveem theater in Amsterdam.
The commissioned works are developed over the course of 2010–2012, in collaboration with our current partner organisations M HKA in Antwerp, Site Gallery in Sheffield, Tate Modern in London, Straat van Sculpturen in Amsterdam, and Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdansk.
Each commission follows its individual trajectory and research path, which may diverge from If I Can’t Dance’s research field of affect. We believe this is a characteristic of the production of new work.