A Late Night Theory of Post-Dance (a selfinterview)

(Ana Vujanović, 2017)

It was around 10 P.M. when I arrived. I found her in one of her temporary apartments. A spacious living and dinning room, almost empty, with wooden floors and big windows, curtains wide open. It was in a small, three story building facing Westerpark, in Amsterdam. She made tea and at first looked willing to talk, but when she sat at the table she briefly glanced at the computer screen and then turned her head and looked towards the glass door of the balcony… I saw her withdrawing into herself like a candle in the dark… She sucked the whole energy of the room. Soon after that thought— or was it a feeling? — had arisen, I saw it leave me, and before it was immersed in the energy flow, the feeling-thought turned back, grabbed me by the hand and took me outside of myself. Now externalized, I was observing that wild woman with clear thoughts, who has been ready to abandon them whenever she was asked the right question. I hovered between her and myself. The screen lightened her profile. It didn’t say much. She was perfectly calm and only her eyes were moving rapidly as if she were reading or dreaming. I was under the impression she had forgotten that I was there, and it was not easy to break the silence in which she apparently felt comfortable. But I promised Mårten Spångberg that I would write 15 pages about post-dance and I knew I couldn’t do it without her. So… well, fuck it.

AV: It’s very late for an interview but I was told you wouldn’t mind.

AV: In fact, I prefer it this way. Now I’m a little tired after the whole day of teaching, and it’s similar to being drunk or drugged: borders dissolve.

Continue reading

On Precarity and the Freedom f-r-o-m Security

Ana Vujanović (2016)

A review of the book State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious by Isabell Lorey, published by Verso in 2015.

 

The political theorist Isabell Lorey is one of the most striking European voices in the recent debate on precarity and precarization – terms that describe the systematic inequalities wrought by neoliberalism in the name of financial crisis and austerity, and which lead to such recent phenomena as militarized violence and xenophobia. For reference, Lorey draws from political and biopolitical theory, feminism, gender and postcolonial studies, as well as the interventions made by social and political movements, such as Euromayday, Occupy, and 15-M. This invigorating intersectionalism has created a potent critical platform for analyzing the present moment.

State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious is Aileen Derieg’s translation of Lorey’s book Die Regierung der Prekären (2012). It is her first book to appear in English, though she is the author of numerous works of cultural and political theory in German. Here Lorey is particularly concerned with the neoliberal “state of insecurity” and how it relates to the process of precarization. Lorey’s long-term research on precarity leads her to the question of neoliberal government, of government through and by insecurity. The first line of the book makes this clear: “If we fail to understand precarization, then we understand neither the politics nor the economy of the present” (1).

Continue reading

(Cultural) Workers Gone Political

Ana Vujanović (2014/15)

This article presents a brief discussion on contemporary artists citizens. It will examine the public life, and the political activity in particular (vita activa), of the critical cultural worker in neoliberal capitalist society. Here, a critical cultural worker—theoretician, artist, curator, journal editor, cultural producer, etc.—means the one who wants and tries to be political,[1] hence the cultural worker gone political. The purpose of the article is to unpack, through discussing dubious politicality of the critical cultural worker, a tension between the work and the politics in today’s society, and to propose a few thoughts on what the politics today could be and how it could look like once we recognize its classical definition as socially and historically inadequate.

Continue reading

Social Choreography: The “Black Wave” in the Yugoslav Slet

Ana Vujanović (2013)

Slets were a form of mass events that were staged in socialist Yugoslavia on a variety of occasions. The most famous and spectacular slets were staged on the Day of Youth, every May 25th, at the Yugoslav People’s Army Stadium in Belgrade. The slet was the central and final event of every Day of Youth, preceded by the Relay of Youth. The Relay was a form of ceremonial mass run organised every year beginning in 1945 and involving thousands of youths, who would run for dozens of miles across Yugoslavia, carrying a baton with a birthday card for Josip Broz Tito, the president of Yugoslavia.[1] In 1957, upon Tito’s suggestion, his birthday was made the Day of Youth and Tito’s Relay was renamed the Relay of Youth. Still, for the rest of his life, until 1980, he remained the “birthday boy” of the Day of Youth – every year, he received the baton, along with the card, and occupied the place of honour at the stadium.[2] This direct association of Tito’s birthday with celebrating youth seems odd, given that at the time, he wasn’t young anymore, not even at the beginning of the tradition – in 1957, he was already 65 – so could not really symbolise youth. Of course, the association was made for other reasons, which take us directly into the history of the slet and its social functions. First of all, it is well known that Tito seriously counted on Yugoslavia’s “youth” and tried to forge a direct link between them and himself, and that he used his speeches to interpellate them as those who would eventually take over and continue down the same path, where their elders – Tito’s own generation – were obliged to stop. But that couldn’t happen just like that. To continue down the path of revolution, which included labour as well as defensive warfare, Yugoslavia’s youth had to be healthy, strong, and physically and spiritually cultivated and robust. And the spectacular self-performance of a slet was the best way to show just how strong, cultivated, and robust they were.

Continue reading

Second-hand Knowledge

Ana Vujanović (2009-13)

It is commonplace or even commonsense that the bulk of knowledge that reaches the periphery is second-hand knowledge. And the periphery—that is us, Serbia, Southeast Europe, Yugoslavia, the Balkans. There is no irony here, for these regions are peripheral, provincial, and marginal with respect to the centres of the First World, Europe, the European Union, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or the Ottoman Empire. For instance, let us briefly consider some prominent examples from Serbian twentieth-century art.[1] Dadaism reached us through Dragan Aleksić, his studies in Prague and connections with the Dadaists circles there. Eurhythmics and Laban’s method arrived here by way of the gymnastic dance workout and dance practice of Maga Magazinović, who studied with Max Reinhardt and Rudolf Steiner. Early conceptual art arrived mostly with Hungarian magazines, thanks to the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, Serbia’s northern province. Still later, Tanztheater reached us through the modern ballet of Sonja Vukićević and theatre anthropology of the 1990s through a few local figures who studied with Eugenio Barba at Odin Teatret. And today, we also have our own versions of new British drama and contemporary—especially so-called conceptual—dance as the predominant practices on the contemporary performing arts scene…[2]

Continue reading