The choreographic writings of performance and political theorist Randy Martin are rooted in an understanding of dance as an analytic with which to approach socio-political mobilizations. In â€œA Precarious Dance, a Derivative Socialityâ€ he writes, â€œFor dance to move the political beyond arrested development, its knowledge of how bodies are assembled, of how space and time are configured, of how interconnections are valued must be made legible beyond the ends of choreographic endeavor. Foregrounding the analytics of movement so redolent in dance can make for a richer evaluation of what is generated through political mobilization.â€ The usefulness of dance then is as an analytic, a mode of theorization. What is particularly compelling to me about this approach are the ways in which it would seem to expand the notion of dance and call for an application beyond the already expanded definition of dance as a kind of “social inventiveness” or mobilization.
Martinâ€™s most recent work uses dance to think through risk, precarity, and the influence of financial judgment and calculations across our day to day experience. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Martin about this work and dig into the logic of social derivatives together. For those unfamiliar, derivatives, within the realm of finance, â€œare the variable attributes of some underlying commodity such as interest rates on loans, expected rates of default on mortgages, or rates of exchanges between two different currencies.â€ Martin continues, â€œWhen taken as a broader social logic, and not just as an activity that takes place within one sector or domain called the economy, the dynamics of the derivative can be seen across all manner of human activity in ways that engender mutual indebtedness, interdependencies across different times and places, and a swelling socialization of what people take to be and expect from life, history, and their future.â€
AR: It would seem that generative risk-based practices, like those that you’ve written and talked about, are a way of negotiating or reclaiming a climate of risk for those that might be described as “at-risk”. There seems to be here a relationship between self-guidance and agency. Would you describe this reclamation as a way of accruing agency through a self-guidance that appropriates risk in order to revalue it as a reward unto itself? I am also thinking of remarks you have made concerning the legacy of self-management and governance at the Brooklyn Commune.
RM: Regarding risk, self-guidance and agency. The bailout left the general impression that finance had cornered the market on risk. Taking the longer view of decolonization in which the current financial regime emerged, we see that it is but one currency of risk and that the relation between danger and self-appreciation, which collaborative dance practices set in motion and make legible other principles of mutual indebtedness than those that cleave a few beneficiaries from the circulating populations that live through the efforts of one another without needing to move in unison. Specifically, these movement practices share a decentered social kinesthetic which reverberates globally and engenders capacities for self-production (the repurposing and revaluation of urban space); self-representation (the capacity to value, make sense from and assess the work being done); and self-dissemination (the use of capture technologies to spread the words, feelings and movements beyond locally inscribed sites of practice). Hopefully this is a more generative agenda for life opportunity and mutual engagement than a pursuit of perfectible techniques for managing, ranking, and accounting for oneself.
AR: It strikes me that dance and other kinds of ensemble based practices offer a way to simultaneously imagine and enact living alternatives. Something that I think is at the heart of your recent work. Could you talk a little bit more about the problem of aspiration and imagination under the logics of derivatives? Do you see either (imagination or aspiration) as being co-opted or consumed by these logics?
RM: To think finance as but one potent but partial manifestation of the social logic of derivatives means that it is not at the center of all social processes gobbling up each instance of risk initiative. Derivatives are assemblages of attributes that produce by circulating; make the far near, and the future actionable in the present and move us from externalizing difference and change to finding ways that volatilities generate modes of abundance rather than scarcity. This is the promise of the derivative logic and the countervailing tendency of turning security to precarity and austerity.
AR: Are derivative logics totalizing? Your recent work would seem to suggest a non-conscious acceptance and internalization of these logics.
RM: Derivative logics are pervasive but are also decolonizing ruptures of some prior enclosure and risk forms that emerge from some condition of ruins. In my movement examples these are the ruins of industrialization which provide postmodern dance with its Soho “ghost town”; the ruin of social housing and engineering that cannot contain the moving images that will become hip hop; and the ruins of suburban bliss that provide the landscape from which boarding culture emerges. Derivatives are by definition bits and pieces of whole entities and therefore always leave something behind–an underlier, volatility, gaps and spreads, contingent claims. In some ways they emerge from the failures to totalize even as they augur an ever-expanding horizon of new forms of wealth that we must learn to claim as our own if we are to move beyond the imposed austerity that is our current lot.
AR: I hope you will forgive me if this question seems to veer us away from the topics at hand. Reading over the article you sent (A Precarious Dance, a Derivative Sociality), I am struck by two things which appear to be interrelated. One is a question of speed and perhaps by extension duration. Certainly there is an element of speed to some of the practices you mentioned: postmodern dance in Soho, the emergence of hip hop, boarding culture. Speed is a preoccupation of the skateboarder and tagger alike, as it is speed that will give them the opportunity to hold their territory for the greatest length of time and speed that will enable them to flee from authority. The other is this sentence: “Utopia as an end we touch through our own means of intervention.” I can begin to see these two things working in tandem. The speed through which those “at-risk” intervene into the discarded landscape, the means by which they begin to simultaneously imagine and enact living alternatives and the production of a utopia whose manifestation is produced by or through this sense of urgency. Do you have any thoughts on either of these of these two observations? Can you elaborate on the utopian implications of these practices?
RM: Speed and duration are indeed material entailments of what I am terming a social kinesthetic. The difference between the modernist kinestheme and the decentered and distributed lateral kinestheme that derivatives circulate in is that space and time are linear and directional and expressed socially as the values of progress, growth and development. Just as portfolios are constructed to make money whether the market goes up or down; decentered movement practices take pleasure from staying in the flow, flying low or transitioning from one orientation to another. This is a nondirectional agility in which staying in the zone, the spread, the liquid suggest different values of participation and co-presence. By placing together interventionist and utopian political temperaments, we undo the reform/revolution opposition and find ways to combine moving into a space in order to repurpose and reopen it and taking the future in the present as allowing us to act upon the contingent without awaiting a total break into a new moment or world. The derivative logic begins to give us access to how we might value and appraise these differences that are already in our midst.
Youtube & The Guggenheim have released their short list for the “Play” Biennial and there is a God since my favorite art video not only is back from the dead but has a new work out. Strindberg and Helium at the Beach tell the tale of a fatalistic Swedish playwright and his best friend a bubble gum pink ballon named Helium. Even though Bad at Sports didn’t make the short list if “Play” does nothing more then vault artist Eun-Ha Park and Strindberg & Helium back into production I call it a roaring success.
- What is this you say? The Art world has aÂ habitÂ of beingÂ delinquentÂ on payments (even more so since October of 2008) and that can have larger ramifications throughout the entire ecosystem? Balderdash I say, pure poppycock; where did I put myÂ monocle. Read more here
- A new Art Fair called of all things “VIP” that has no physical location and is 100% virtual on the net, marketing is not discussed nor noticable yet, there is no meet and greet which is the cornerstone of art, you will be expected to buy without ever seeing the work in the flesh & they want to charge $20,000 a booth and be held 22-30 January. If this didn’t have Gagosian, Sadie Coles, Emman uel Perrotin and David Zwirner involved I would be rolling on the floor laughing, oh wait I still am. Laugh more here
- Auction house Christie’s has hired, from outside, a former publishing, record company and Disney executive as its new CEO. Read more here
- Chuck Close does a public interview at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he discusses his life, art, and the creative process. Watch more here
- The Art Institute of Chicago Sues the Engineering Firm that built it’s Modern Wing citing cracks in concrete floors, condensation clouding the main vestibule glass and an air-conditioning system that can’t maintain a safe climate for artwork. The estimated cost of repairs is $10Â million. Read more here
- Stuart E. Hample, Humorist and Cartoonist, Dies at 84. Read more here Also Howard Brodie, Combat and Courtroom Artist, Dies at 94 Read more here
- Deep in us we all love science and have had great joy in the data coming from the Large Hadron Collider and even more in the sillyness surrounding it but it’s interesting to watch scientists fall all over themselves trying to address what would happen if the beam hit anything organic. Watch more here
One more video from the “Play” Biennial, this is fun lol.
I wish Annie Leibovitz well and hope she gets her financial situation back on track and doesn’t suffer the pain shared by The Beatles and Stones which is the never ending chase to put the genie (rights to your own work) back in the bottle once you have sold it. Aside from that I can’t bring myself to shed a tear or show any shock over her situation.
If you haven’t had a chance to read up on this, on July 29th Ms. Leibovitz was sued by Art Capital Group in the NY State Supreme Court for failure to pay towards a loan of $24 million that she took. The collateral for this was properties in Greenwich Village and in Rhinebeck, N.Y., her negatives and the rights to her photographs.
Essentially the bulk of her assets.
Now after failure to make the basic payments Art Capital Group has successfully pursued payment in the courts and is gaining access to the collateral with the goal of liquefying the assets to regain the funds. Ms. Leibovitz has not commented on the actions and I don’t see any advantage to commenting but sadly it is reported that this is not the first time she has had problems making proper financial payments to clients or the state for taxes.
The point is this is not a rare case in the Art World, many many artists and creative professionals regularly take upon themselves financial responsibilities that they are ill prepared to handle or worse ignore all together. Only to learn that ignorance isn’t a defense in the court and a lifetimes worth of work and struggle can be lost in the balance of a few or single bad financial decisions.
I know it feels like it is hard to find people to trust, or you don’t want to have some “parental” figure limiting your decisions or options but the business side of art is as important in the long term if not in many ways more important in enabling great work to be produced and shared with the world.
Please take this opportunity to take a good hard look at your current situation if this current economy hasn’t made you already and ask yourself are you properly taking care of your long term finances and are adequately planing for trouble and can personally handle that responsibility yourself. If the answer is no, find someone skilled who you can partner with to make sure you don’t sign contracts or do expenditures you will live the rest of your life regretting.
Life in Art is hard enough, don’t be your own worst enemy.
Ald. Ed Burke (14th) chairman of the Finance Committee, today increased the pressure on the Art Institute of Chicago say it isn’t affordable for many city residents.
The fee increase, which takes effect May 23, will increase general admission to $18 from $12, and student and senior admission to $12 from $7. But the museum notes that, unlike now, the new fees will include the costs of exhibitions.
“If they want to be a private institution and do whatever they want, that’s fine,” Burke said. “Once they accept taxpayer dollars, it’s a different story.”
Read more at the Chicago Tribune report.
With the financial market squeezing donors, collectors and the backers of the art market, the word recession has been a new mantra that has plagued the New York art scene. This week Amanda Browder (host of the Amanda Browder Show) and Tom Sanford (BAS reporter and artiste) talk with Craig Houser (curator), Les Rogers (artist) and John Lee (dealer/gallery owner) about the current financial recession in New York and how it compares to the most recent recession in the 80’s. Watch out Elizabeth Peyton, your neck is first.
Next: Mike Benedetto (jackass, BAS film critic) reviews The Watchmen.
IMPORTANT: be sure to stick around after the credits for a very special and heart rending public service announcement from Mike, that, much to his surprise, I actually did run in the show. Read more