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(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.
Ana Vujanović (2009)
If the death of art is its inability to attain the concrete dimension of the work,
the crisis of art in our time is, in reality, a crisis of poetry, of ποίησις.
Ποίηις [… is] the very name of man’s doing, of that productive action
of which artistic doing is only a privileged example,
and which appears, today, to be unfolding its power on a planetary scale
in the operation of technology and industrial production.
(Giorgio Agamben, The Man Without Content)
This essay is conceived as a critical overview of the concepts supporting the principles and procedures of work in art, and their numerous and non-linear transformations throughout the history of Western culture. It is, accordingly, established as a kind of introductory assessment of the ways of work and cooperation in contemporary performing arts, without dwelling on their particularities and elaboration of the resulting collaborative modes. Indeed, my intention is not to come up with a universal ‘glossary’, but to critically focus on the concepts much too often taken for granted in the contemporary performing arts world. The central problem is, consequently, outlined from a macro-social perspective: I start from the economic/political contexts, since the 18th century’s Industrial Revolution to the current frameworks of post-Fordism and cognitive capitalism. Against this backdrop I am looking at a number of artistic paradigms which have considerably contributed to the changes in perception of artistic work throughout the 20th century: Benjamin’s concept of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (photography and film); Duchamp’s ready-made; Warhol’s pop art; digital art and (Bourriaud’s) post-production. The anticipated result from thus conceived piece of writing is sharpening of concepts frequently employed within the contemporary art scene – like immaterial work, creativity, practice, cooperation, process, reproduction, intervention etc. – in reference to their origins in Western philosophy, political theory and, particularly, material social circumstances.