Body compositions in the post-medium condition

Afterwords: Saskia Hölbling and Dans.kias, other feature / 29 Jul 2002English

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Contextual note
This text is part of the project Afterwords, curated by Jeroen Peeters for the festival ImPulsTanz Vienna in summer 2002. Every night, three critics in residence shared their impressions and thoughts on the performances immediately after having seen them, in an act of instantaneous writing. During the process of writing, these comments were projected in the theatre lobby and later that night made available on the websites and
A selection of the texts by Jeroen Peeters is available on Sarma, in a slightly edited version, sometimes with a postscript. Two essays elucidate the project Afterwords and reflect on its poetical and political implications. To retrieve the material, search under: ‘Afterwords’.

The invention of photography in the 19th century was an important incentive to the development of painting. In a similar way one could say that video 'liberated' dance in several respects. With the introduction of new reproduction methods, choreography removed from the traditional structure score-execution. Also, with video as a main tool utilised during the creation process, dance isn't any longer a 'pure' discipline or medium, that is, not any longer to be regarded as 'autonomous'. In ‘Other Feature’ this is one of the questions that pop up.

Bodies in a strong counter-light, with a pronounced clair-obscur musculature… as if they were sculptures.
A body folding itself into a vertical surface, the carnation of a back appearing in heightened coloration through the lighting… as if it were painting.
Could one still speak about dance perhaps?

Here, a peculiar confusion on the level of the media emerges: the bodies are presented in a undoubtedly visual way, thus as images, or better as compositions – but these hyperconstructions omit the visibility of their prerequisite, their medium. These are body images in the 'post-medium condition'.

One could expect/suspect to be watching theatre, since ‘Other Feature’ is frontally composed, opposed to an auditorium. The curtains are left out though, opening up the stage to a bare space. An intervention that takes away at once this other possible confusion (which could be experienced as violent): what to think about deformed body images denying their visual origin? Here, the naked everyday bodies in the off-stage area act as a point of reference. And besides, there are some statues of nude torsos around, holding the ceiling of the Kasino – an ultimate hold of visual culture?