Departures and Arrivals


Rita Natálio

How to think about Art history in this context of tectonic transnacional production? 

How to deal with a reality where traditional cultural dominance is luckily fading away, but Darwinist world markets sadly replace it?  

How to surf the transnacional horizon but avoid what I have called “favelas of culture”, ilegitimate children of rhizomatic capitalism, poor and miserable machines of art production, “hungry” for life and poetics? (i.e. the new modern art museums in same Arab countries are good examples of this “favelization”, as well as new “creative industries” luxury events )

As we know, “cultural domination” - the power engine learned and practiced by European cultures since the first colonial manouveurs -  is a reality that has radically changed its field of influence. Even if we cannot say that Western sofistication and west-authority is over, we can say that the “others of culture” – the other Lygias Clarks, the other Walid Raads, Apichatpongs,  Isaac Juliens, Tokishi Okadas, -  are more and more visible and intriguing. Artist and arts from Brazil, Middle East, China, Japan, Tayland, are “enlarging” the art world and this movement is both geopolitical and geopoetical because it disseminates other perspectives on body, affection and thought -  in a way, there is a fat West eating and swallowing the seeds of Otherness. But, in other way, we are before a transformation of culture (real time culture) that extricates “western geographical heritage”.

 The dark side of this story is that in the world of Darwin’s entrepreneurs, art, artists and entire cultures can be objects of archive-mania, biennals, fetichized objects of trade and wonder. Even if the traditional “domination” – the colonial  Western purism on top of others – is more easily dismounted that before, the standard apolitical capitalism  still perpetuates good old values of submission, due to its lack of moral orientation.

In this sense, my idea is that not only that the West is not a pure and identifiable category anymore, but also the challenge of critical thought is much different from what it was before. We can’t not simply  ask how to do Art History in this scenario or what is the role of Europe in the process of globalization of practices and des-identification. We need to step further and radically ask: 1) how to make obsolete concepts of Art History, dominant culture, disappear, instead of reformulating them?  2) How to promote a “healing-reflexion-practice” in a society whose past was molded in pure relations of dominance, “Western-sculpturized”, but its memory is not holding back previous traditional forms of dominance?

The truth is that, most of the times, because everything is changing so fast, we still operate through mediunic dead ghosts. We still try to recover a certain sense of hierarchy and linearity to our perspectives in culture, based in the archetypes of traditional dominance.  But when I pose the question of how to deal with the globalized world (i.e. how to invent dances that deal with globalized transnacional culture?) I am thinking of a dance that abandon the idea of Art History, taken from other temporalities, and stops trying to replace it by new forms, simply because there are no other new forms to reinvent this “modus operandi” of dominance.

Following this reasoning, Dance archiving and transmission could be more poetically oriented than historically oriented.  It should be transnational, psychographic, political, economical, psychoanalytic. It should mix different temporalities and spaces, as Aby Warboug once tried do in his ATLAS of psycho-forms. It should be an artistic process just as any work of choreography.  Not a catalog of forms of time and space. But a psychology of forms - of time and space - resonating in the body. In this sense, to generate an archive in dance, just as in any work of dance programming, should be a  work of opening “history” and “validation” to the realm of Body and Affection. But this process can only be triggered if we tune body and thought, which was always a primary question of dance knowledge.

Of course, we will still be facing Darwin’s “heads or tails” mechanism. But here we can only use  the ESCsolution: ESCape from the market, ESCape from the glorious chaos of dispersed and undistinguished parts produced by marketing, ESCape from capitalistic experiments with other radical experimentations. Our task is to mix social dance studies, with conceptual dramaturgies from the 90’s, experimental cinema language, rituals from Brazil and contexts of Malaysian post-colonial dances. Our task is a “reverie”, but maybe we can find an answer while we look at the cultural chaos produced by economic free-market, paradoxically rejected by academic knowledge (academics are the real ANACRONS, they tend to purify the most impure texture of things)

The archive of the XXI century is affective. It is intimate and local, at the same time it is transnational and global. It is produced by people, cultural actors moved by their intimate causes. It is moved by affection and re-enchantment of memories. It is a cadavre-exquis but it is not a cadavre, only the moving tentacles of virtualities and multiplicities.  It is not moved by the ideology of preservation. It is moved by synchronism and imagery resonating in the body. It is profoundly engaged with nature and rhythm. It is not rational, It is not linear. It is not a archive. It is, like once Gregory Bateson told us, the pattern that connects. A toast to the new non-european archive.