On Dance and Postfordism: Between Movement, Labor, and Leisure

How is the disappearance of the dividing line between labor and leisure time related to contemporary dance and conceptualization of movement? The lecture will start to reflect the appearance of contemporary dance forms in the 20th century, especially on the ways how their aesthetical and political potential is being continuously formed in the complicated relation to the existing production modes. Some intersections between the organization of labor production and the conceptualization of movement in the history of contemporary dance are presented. Here, dance is not close to the questions of work because it can function as a mere representation of work, an image of a working process, but because it is work in the sense of its material rhythms, efforts, in the ways how movement inhabits space and time. The political potentiality of dance then has not to be searched in an abstract or democratic idea of freedom, but in the ways how dance is deeply intertwined with the power and exhaustion of work, with its energy and dispersion, virtuosity and failure, dependence and autonomy. Maybe movement is emancipatory because it opened the way for a new expression, it opens itself for an unlimited flow of desire, which was not anymore related to its dirty materiality, but to the abstracted idea of flexible freedom. However, with abstraction in the core of the work, dance could also confront such abstraction with its own dirty work, its own exhaustion, its own material practice. Movement has namely the possibility to unwork its own work, and to disclose new alternatives to the cognitive and communicative side of contemporary labor.

Bojana Kunst is Professor and Director of the Institute for Applied Theater Studies (ATW), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany, where she also leads the International MA in “Choreography and Performance”. In 2002, she finished her doctoral thesis in Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana and worked as a researcher there as well as at University of Antwerp (till 2009), and later as a guest professor at the University of Hamburg (2009-2012). She lectured and organized seminars, workshops and laboratories in many European academic institutions, theaters, artistic organizations, and worked continuously with independent artistic initiatives, artists and groups. She is a member of the editorial board of Maska Magazine, Amfiteater and Performance Research. Her last book is: Artist at Work. Proximity of Arts and Capitalism (2015).