Manual Exhausting Modernity: Grounds for a New Economy

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Are they a free gift from the state? On the contrary, they are equivalent to a tax on production and moreover a tax that reduces production without bringing any revenue to the public treasury. Knowledge is cumulative. As in other fields of knowledge, some old economic books we read only for their historical value, to understand how they constituted an imperfect step, but a step nonetheless, in the development of economic theory. Many old economics books are disappointing from the vantage point of what we have learned since. And the Treatise can help understand what has been built on these foundations.

The fourth French edition appeared in , and an English translation in The latter was revised by an American editor who apparently tried to incorporate elements of the fifth French edition. A further sixth French edition the last one done by Say himself was published in Consequently, the English edition shows some differences with the fifth and sixth French editions and with the seventh one, which was not materially different from the sixth.

Jean-Baptiste Say was a French economist and businessman. At the beginning of his career, he worked for an insurance company and then as a journalist and editor.

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He then moved to northern France where he opened a cotton spinning mill that ended up employing more than employees. In , he became the first professor of political economy in France. He published many books, among which the Treatise on Political Economy stands as his major work. He was an admirer but also a critic of Adam Smith He was, during his lifetime, famous in France, Europe, and America.

There are good reasons for this. It still remains too narrow, too closely tied to merchant adventurers on 18 th or 19 th century oceans. Although Say must be viewed, like Adam Smith, as part of the classical school of economics, and although he was attacked as such by John Maynard Keynes, he made discoveries that predated by several decades the birth, at the end of the 19 th century, of the neo-classical and Austrian schools of economics.

Say well understood simple economic notions, for example, that producing more of something implies producing less of something else. But if a tax hits an immobile factor such as land, it will only reduce the value of the land falling only on the landowner and change nothing in its production except if it justifies abandoning the land.

All that is in Say. And there is much more. The value of capital and land, he argues, is also incorporated in the value of products. Moreover, it is utility and demand that ultimately give value to things. All economic activities, in agriculture, manufacturing, or commerce, add utility to things and thus create wealth. Otherwise, at least one of them would have abstained. Say was among the earliest economists to understand the concept of opportunity cost.

Take the example of war. War costs a nation more than its actual expense; it costs besides all that would have been gained, but for its occurrence. To give another example of the pearls that we find the Treatise , Say anticipated the concept of human capital that was to be developed only in the second part of the 20 th century. Another crucial economic notion that the reader will discover, or rediscover, in the Treatise is that all prices are relative prices. I remember when, as a graduate economics student at the University of Toronto, I said something in class about the price of a good, and a professor — it must have been H.

The price of apples in terms of oranges is the inverse of the price of oranges in terms of apples. If this be all that is meant by the term, measure of value, I admit that money is such a measure; but so, it should be observed, is every other divisible commodity, though not employed in the character of money. The ratio of the one house to the other will be equally intelligible, if one be said to be worth , and the other only , quarters of wheat.

When one thinks in terms of relative prices, it becomes easy to understand how the price of money can change, for it is only saying that the price of goods in terms of money is changing. The price of money is the goods that money can buy. If the general level of prices rises, it means nothing but that the price the value of money has decreased; and mutatis mutandis in the case of deflation.

Again, Say expresses the idea clearly:. There is, in fact, no such thing as a measure of value, because there is nothing possessed of the indispensable requisite, invariability of value. The author of the Treatise has more to say about money. His analysis is very close to the theory developed by Carl Menger seven decades later. Money is a medium of exchange that spontaneously appears because it is useful.

The usefulness of money comes from the difficulty of obtaining from barter what one wants for what one has produced. Say argues that the rate of interest is not the price of money, but the price of borrowing and lending. He also understands that the velocity of money is just another word for the inverse of the demand for money.

One must peek behind the veil of money as we would say today and look at real phenomena, at things in real terms. For example, Say shows that a capitalist who pays taxes in money is in fact paying them with the goods produced by the capital he has lent to an entrepreneur. Say explains how there cannot be overproduction because everything that is produced is produced for the very purpose of consuming, today or tomorrow, an equivalent value. All revenues come from production, and they are thus sufficient to buy all production. Under the veil of money, products are exchanged against products.

One implication is that, contrary to what mercantilism claimed, the balance of trade between countries does not matter. And foreign trade is beneficial because it is irrational to produce domestically what can be purchased cheaper from foreign lands. If he eliminates the world he eliminates himself. Hintikka concludes, one can say that the reason why Wittgenstein claimed that solipsism is essentially correct is diametrically opposed to the reason usually given for solipsism.

Solipsism becomes a critical and choreographic countermethodology, a mode to intensify critically and physically the hegemonic conditions of subjectivization and to explode them in improbable directions. Inclusions that show how the choreographic precisely because it is a technology of subjectivization that morphs writing with movement with body with absence with presence may also offer escape routes from its dubious project of senseless mobilization — and thus show how solipsism, when understood as a philosophical methodology that implicates the poetic force of language right at the core of the world, may become a means for transcending the self-contained, socially severed, self- propelled modern being-toward-movement.

It is at this point, which is the point where Wittgenstein, in the Tractatus, drops the notion of the subject, that an incredible solo by Xavier Le Roy, produced under the conditions of this expanded notion of methodological solipsism that disrupts notions of absolute seclusion, must be invoked. In Self Unfinished , Le Roy also drops the notion of the subject — and consequently modes of arresting being within fixed categories: masculinity and femininity, human and animal, object and subject, passive and active, mechanical and organic, absence and presence, all the oppositions that psycho-philosophically have framed modern subjectivity within fixed binomial options.

Le Roy replaces those categories with a series of pure becomings, in the strict sense Deleuze and Guattari gave to it: A becoming is not a correspondence between relations. But neither is it a resemblance, an imitation, or, at the limit, an identification. A power, a plane of consistency or composition of desire, a body without organs Deleuze and Guattari Deleuze and Guattari — Significantly, figments of each minoritarian position are constantly appearing and disappearing in Self Unfinished.

So, ongoing experimentation, ontologically unfinishable. In this example of methodological choreographic solipsism, we find the idiot leaving its plane of self-containment and becoming generatively and intelligently silly in his ongoing becoming machinic and organic, human and objectal, subjective and indeterminate, man and woman, animal and sculptural, black and white, active and passive, joyous and sad, solitary and multiple — by constantly disorganizing and reorganizing that fundamental question profoundly binding philosophy and dance: what can a body do?

As we enter the performance space, we find Le Roy at his desk, dressed in black pants and shirt, receiving his audience, acknowledging our entrance. For the following hour, he will engage in three series of acts: first, fully dressed with simple black pants and a shirt, he will move as a humorous rendition of a robotic being, voicing machinic sounds. Then, he will remove his shoes and pants and unfurl his shirt to reveal it as a long tube that stretches all the way down his legs as a dress.

This becoming woman is quickly dissolved when he bends his body in an inverted V shape, and starts to move as a headless quadruped. On all fours, Le Roy goes to the back wall, stands on his hands for a while. Then, propped on his shoulders, facing the wall, he proceeds to take his clothes off.

Le Roy spends a great amount of time like this: naked, on his shoulders, head hidden between his legs, buttocks up, moving pathetically inefficiently, becoming formless. Of all the works analyzed so far, this is the first time that representation totally, radically, and consistently subverts the hegemonic isomorphism between presence, masculinity, verticality, figure, proper name, frontality, faciality, and efficient motility.

But the presence of hauntological inclusions in Self Unfinished is already their demise: halfway through the piece, naked, upside down, on his shoulders, head hidden, a formless mass of impossible description, already mutating at every passing moment, Le Roy slides under the desk and violently kicks it apart. Self Unfinished Photo: Katrin Schoof. Masculinity, solipsism, choreography 43 fleshy host for a subject, but a dynamic power, an ongoing experiment ready to achieve unforeseeable planes of immanence and consistency. In his radical use of choreographic solipsism Le Roy exhausts the being-toward-movement.

For what matters in Self Unfinished is never the spectacle of kineticism, but the pack of affects and precepts unleashed by the many stillnesses, repetitions, reiterations, humorous images, and unnamable forms that Le Roy presents us with. We are no longer before a notion of the self as proper home of the individuated subject, as presumed condition for a disciplined body to be inhabited by the choreographic. But very often I ask myself, why should our bodies end at the skin or include at best other beings, organisms or objects encapsulated by the skin? X6: Yes. As you say, body images are capable of accommodating and incorporating an extremely wide range of objects and discourses.

Anything that comes into contact with surfaces of the body and remains there long enough will be incorporated into the body image [. And that there are all kinds of non-human influences woven into us. X7: Exactly. So it [sic] must exist another alternative to the body image than the anatomical one. X8: For example: I think about that the body could be perceived as space and time for trade, traffic and exchange. In other terms, there would be only composed individuals. An individual would be a notion completely devoid of sense.

Without individuation, there is no possibility of assigning subjectivity within the economies of law, naming, and signification. Bel is fully aware of these esthetic, theoretical, and political experimentations. Dramaturgically, compositionally, choreographically, Bel answers these questions by drastically distilling choreography to its most basic elements. Historically, these elements of choreography I would like to insist on the particularities invoked by this word have been: a closed room with a flat and smooth floor; at least one body, properly disciplined; a willingness of this body to subject to commands to move; a coming into visibility under the conditions of the theatrical perspective, distance, illusion ; and the belief in a stable unity between the visibility of the body, its presence, and its subjectivity.

In his piece The Last Performance , the question of presence, visibility, representation, and subjectivity are brought to the fore, and then examined, probed, exhausted. What Bel does in The Last Performance is to show how this question, when uttered under the sign of choreography on that particularly hyperbolic representational space that is the stage, has the potential to reveal a whole series of reified associations between presence and visibility, absence and invisibility. I will return to The Last Performance later in this chapter.

The Last Performance Photo: Herman Sorgeloos. For this project to be carried out fully, a simultaneous interpellation of the historical, the ontological, and the spatial contexts where choreography appears is crucial. They stand for a while under their names, next to their numerical information, as if their bodies subtitle the writing on the wall. The other two dancers write and stand under names that are not their own, names they represent, names that will be represented by what the dancers do.

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And what representation endlessly reproduces is itself — representation reproduces its power for perpetually mirroring its self-embrace. And he reminds us how each of these names are also packs formed by other bodies, other collectivities. The subjectivity and the body Bel proposes are clearly not monads or self-mirroring singularities, but packs, open collectives, continuous processes of unfolding, multiplicities.

If the dancing subject is no longer considered a singular entity, if the visible body dancing on stage does not fully reveal its presence, how can dance studies give an account of what it is disciplinarily supposed to be accountable for: the moving presence of bodies in the confined space of the stage? If the body is a pack, a rhizome, a body-image, if it is semantic as much as it is somatic, if it extends across time and space, then in which ways can critical writing assess choreographic work built upon this splayed-out model of the body and of subjectivity?

One answer for critical dance studies would be for it to consider a radical questioning of the presumed stability that has always been secured by representation between the appearance of a moving body on stage its presence , and the spectacle of its subjectivity that representation always casts as the spectacle of an identity.

But if one does engage in this critical operation, one will soon find out that it is not only the status of the body of the dancer on stage that requires critical revision. The assumed singularity of the author-choreographer must also be revised. The question then is: without dance, music, and dancers, could there still be something of the choreographic in this piece? In this piece, silence should not be defined negatively as a lack of sound, but positively as an activator, a force, a critical operation.

Silence operates as an intensifier of attention; it gives density to the objects. Lest we forget, Western dance achieved its representational autonomy and therefore its claim for an ontology by literally becoming dumb. By initiating his choreographic career with a piece that explicitly explores the question of naming in the space of muteness, Bel went to the bedrock of the choreographic to identify its paradoxical core. Choreography is not only an intriguing hypermimetic art form born out of early modernity. The stage is theological for as long as its structure, following the entirety of tradition, comports the following elements: an author-creator who, absent and from afar, is armed with a text and keeps watch over, assembles, regulates the time or the meaning of representation, letting this latter represent him as concerns what is called the content of his thoughts, his intentions, his ideas.

Here, Bel sets up the conditions for creating another kind of power relations in the viewing of his work. For, even if the piece retains the spatial division between stage and audience, the persistent and quiet reiteration of forms and objects, their familiarity and their defamiliarization in improbable pairings, gradually start to dissolve the passivity of the audience.

To just watch this piece is to certainly miss it. Rather, it is crucial to accept its invitation to engage in its playfulness, to move from a passive optical scrutiny to an active, multisensorial, polysemic receptivity. The piece reveals not the silence of things, but the rustling of the signifier resonating on the crust of every object, the rustling of language running along the surface of every body, like salt poured on the pages of a French disctionary.

Bel opened up his choreographic career by cracking the question of authorial intent, and of authorial unity, within the field of representation: names are given by the author, the title tells us. But who is giving what to whom? Can we identify an author in its intentional singularity? The answer Bel gives us is clearly no: the author becomes an author-function, a multiplicity spreading across a broken fourth wall, thanks to the collective rustling of quiet naming. In Shirtologie , body and language fuse one into the other to display modes of subjectivization. A male dancer stands still throughout most of its duration, as he peels off layers upon layers of T-shirts and sweatshirts with words, brand names, imprints.

Bel shows us how the linguistic entangles the body within a representational layering that entraps subjectivity. Each time, he wears dozens of shirts one on top of the other, layer upon layer, which he proceeds very simply, quietly, eyes cast down, to remove until he reaches the last. The next shirt displays a woman in attitude, which Seguette emulates. Shirtologie reveals how the culture of representation, when allied to late-capitalist subjectivity, thrives in a ceaseless reproduction of a poetics of commodities, logos, and trademarks — all permeating our bodies, our language, our perception, forming subjectivities and informing identities.

Shirtologie reveals how representation meets that other totalitarian mode of self-enclosure — capitalism. In , Bel created a collective version of Shirtologie for a group of nontrained young people; with this version, a liberating humor was inserted into the dramaturgy.

Thus, there is the possibility of reenergizing language, reenergizing the forces of capital aligned with the representational and recode the speech act. What happens when we are placed in direct confrontation with language? Are we all hopelessly submitted to its force, to its commanding, illocutionary and perlocutionary force, even to its violence? I described how language hovers in this piece, creating its conditions of visibility and overdetermining the presence of the dancers. But something extraordinary happens at the intersection between body and language in this beautiful piece, something fluid that suspends the house arrest of the body by language, by laws of signification and of signature.

Quietly, the visceral body acts, displaying an interiority that representation does not account for nor does it totally control. For many, this is a scandalous act, despite its tranquil rendition. It will be used to indicate how the body is the primary agent for the transformation of language. When the two dancers are done, they scoop up their urine with their hands, and start erasing the letters and numbers on the wall.

Erasing, rewriting, renaming, recalling, all operations that happen after the force of names that structured the whole piece is undone by the inassimilable excess the body produces. Bel proposes a very specific notion of language, one that is as malleable, as playful, and as dynamic as the body. He also proposes how the body, in its most visceral activation, is not only a surface of inscription, as Foucault noted, but an instrument of writing, an inassimilable agent that constantly rewrites history back.

Just as Bel deploys singularity to propose how subjectivity is always a multiplicity, I would argue that he deploys stillness and slowness to propose how movement is not only a question of kinetics, but also one of intensities, of generating an intensive field of microperceptions. Just as silence is not used by Bel as the negation of sound, so the still is not used as the negation of movement.

Given that no living system is energetically autonomous, the very idea of an autonomously kinetic subjectivity, of a self-contained and self-mobilizing subjectivity, emerges as the manifestation of a deep ideological blindness. The hubris of the modern subject finds this notion unpalatable; this subject clings to the notion that humans are energetically separate; that they are born this way, within a kind of shell that protects and separates them from this world.

In fact they have acquired this shell, which is also called the ego. By constantly representing itself as a kinetic spectacle and disavowing its energetic lack of autonomy, modern subjectivity establishes its colonizing relation in regard to all sorts of energetic sources — whether those are natural, physiological resources, or affective ones: desires, affects, becomings. Choreography is a necessary technology for an agitated subjectivity that can only find its ontological grounding as a perpetual being-toward-movement.

It is no wonder, then, that dance must be slowed down — as a way of decelerating the blind and totalitarian impetus of the kinetic-representational machine. Figure 3. At this point, I would like to return to The Last Performance, in order to propose a reading of its particular deployment of that intriguing rhetorical figure, paronomasia.

I described earlier how The Last Performance unfolds by insisting on a constant destabilization of the proprietary relationships between body, self, identity, body- image, and name. I would like to underline the indefinite article before the proper name; or rather, the couplet indefinite article—proper name. Thus a Hamlet walking into The Last Performance means: a singular event in the highest degree is walking in. What is the power this singularity brings? What is the event this entrance announces? The power is that of the fundamental question, the power of the ontological. After four years and three pieces, finally.

Hamlet announces the invention of the modern monadic subject, a subject centered on a self, contained by the limits of the body, isomorphic to that body perceived as private property, bearer of a biography, housing private secrets and unique ghosts, responsible before the state, strictly binomial in terms of gender, and tamed in the channeling of desire Barker 10— Thus, the entrance of a Hamlet-event in The Last Performance starts to resonate ontohistorically and politically: a Hamlet enters so that the very advent of a choreographed dance may be possible.

The audience had been close to riotous. When the short dance ends, and Haenni-Linke leaves the stage, familiarity is soon slapped on the face. In a public lecture on The Last Performance that Bel has presented a few times in the past couple of years throughout Europe, he mentions how he conceived this dance scene around two main questions: the formal question of how to quote a dance piece, as a rapper samples a song from another musician, and the perceptual question of how repetition unleashes series of differences. In that book, Deleuze asks does not the paradox of repetition [lie] in the fact that one can speak of repetition only by virtue of the change or difference that it introduces in the mind which contemplates it?

By virtue of a difference the mind draws from repetition? Repetition creates a form of standing still that has nothing of the immobile. How does one perform this kind of paronomastic motion? But how does one dance the paronomastic movement? Dancing Wandlung over and over again, we see how the different bodies are less claiming to be Suzanne Linke, but experimenting on what happens when one decides to move alongside a name to engage in a literal paronomasia.

This particular form of moving repetition not only brings humor to the scene, but reveals how dancing alongside and beyond a name is also to stay with it, to reveal its undersides, to unfold it, to unleash its lines of force, to break open the illusion of fixity a name is supposed to bring to its referent. What is being created in this intriguing moment where repetition confuses perception thanks to paronomasia?

What is being proposed in the rigorous display of the choreographic machine? It reveals choreography as a haunting machine, a body snatcher. Under the paronomastic display of choreography, dance emerges as a disembodied power ready to be occupied by any body. All repetition is a kind of falling; the falling into a trap called temporality. The falling into time that the still-act initiates is also the activation of a proposition for an ethics of being that is always an active entanglement with time. Sloterdijk explains how Heidegger purposefully chooses a word to characterize this falling into temporality that distances itself from any metaphysical or Christian notions of the Fall: Verfallen.

This sort of mobility that stays put, this movement that does not get anywhere while going everywhere thanks to the still, is that of paronomasia. How does one literally go beyond while staying put? And what can be gained with such a step? Paronomasia proposes to subjectivity alternative modalities of being in time. Paronomasia, through its insistence on reiterating what is forever not quite the same, through its slow yet uncertain, teetering pirouetting, triggers the possibility for the secretion of a temporality which allows the body to appear under a different regime of attention and stand on a different, less firm ontological ground.

Here, movement belongs more to intensities and less to kinetics; and the appearing body must be seen less as solid form and rather as sliding along lines of intensities. The paronomastic operation, which is a choreographic one, qualitatively transforms the ontological question of dance. It transforms it through a shift in velocities, through an attending that carefully uncovers otherwise unsuspected zones and flows of intensities. This temporal carving and expansion is performed through this most misunderstood act for dance: remaining still.

In the series of gestures, speech acts, characters, scenarios, and fantasies upon which Western theatrical dance has historically grounded itself up, dance was coopted by an exhausting program for subjectivity, an idiotic energetic economy, an impossible body, and a melancholic complaint regarding a very narrow understanding of time and temporality. Cunningham 66 Mid-March Mid-March These two temporally coincidental events — where dance happened in the space of, and in dialogue with, visual arts — were created by two women choreographers separated by nationality, style, geography, and generation.

In the case of La Ribot, to sculpture and installation art. That is to say: both choreographers, in different manners, addressed with their work a plane with a particularly problematic relation to gender politics in twentieth- century visual art: the horizontal. Perhaps because his actions on the horizontal canvas were about marking virgin territory, Pollock was never able to commit to the border-crossing that his toppling of the representational plane suggested. He was never able to re-place painting outside the proper space of the canvas, to have painting follow the splatter of paint as it fell outside his territorialized domain.

But his actions on the toppled canvas, his walking on it, his spilling of paint on it, clearly suggested that there was a potential for trespassing that could be taken by whoever would be willing to venture out of the pictorial frame. All other possibilities become as if relegated to a footnote. Why bring up the figure of the dead father?

In her essay, Schneider provides an answer to these objections. It is also what they must escape at all costs in their distinct and particular uses of the horizontal — a plane whose immediate association with the Pollockian toppling erupts as a curse. In that sense, as opposed to Pollock, these two performances indeed topple the plane of representation.

What does it mean for women choreographers to make for themselves a space of pure potentiality when working on horizontality in their dialogue with visual arts? Perspectiveless horizontality: dancing drawing falling Trisha Brown has had a long relationship with drawing. Her simultaneous dancing-drawing crushes all those concepts Bois describes as securing in place the smooth ideological reproduction of the economy of the representational.

If the formless crushes meaning and figure, it also crushes the possibility of fixing representation within any grammatical or visual legibility. This transportation of the body into the ideal-visual realm is the necessary brutality at the core of the disembodiment that secures scopic and spatial hegemonies. Third layer: the perspectival framing and its inevitable disembodiment of vision.

Fourth layer, particularly relevant for dance studies, and brought by the specificity of the white space: the abstract space Brown walks in echoes historically with one particular foundational abstraction that initiated modern choreography. Such overlapping confuses the ground of drawing and the ground of dancing. If she draws on the horizontal, she seems very unconcerned about enclosing in the transversal a symbolic, or a signifying marking.

Additionally, she will often dance lying flat along the horizontal plane, refusing the association of figure and verticality that Benjamin identifies with the representational function of the vertical. By stepping out of the strict Benjaminian division of planes according to their semiotic functionality, Brown steps out of conventional axiomatics of signification and representation. Outside of writing, outside of the transversal cut of the symbolic, outside of longitudinal representational, what does she do then?

Brown enters the empty white room, about 6 by 6 meters, and walks around the historically resonant stage-page. In a concentrated and calm manner, almost hesitantly, she distributes charcoal and pastel sticks around the edges of the large sheet of paper 9 by10 feet. Holding the charcoal, Brown paces about, staying close to the periphery of the paper, not stepping into it right away.

Moving closer to the drawing surface, she immediately suspends any possibility of associating her dancing-drawing with simply a tracing of steps or a recording of movement patterns. What Brown does as soon as she approaches the paper is first to ponder — to take her time pensively, concentrate, not to move — and then, to fall. In a controlled manner, Brown falls outside the limits of the paper, defying its surface as boundary for her actions.

From the start, a trespassing: she deterritorializes the horizontal, by performing a first move of her dancing- drawing outside the proper limits of the paper. She withdraws just enough tension from joints and muscle, so that her body may gently break away from the vertical alignment of the walking posture and surrender itself to gravity.

She will not be a standing figure on the blank, white page terrain. Rather, she will approach the horizontal by lying on it, by being with it, by rubbing and sliding against it. On the ground, Trisha Brown becomes not a grapheme, not a sign, not a symbol, not a figure, but as formless as paint hitting floor.


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Her falling is a becoming formless. On the ground, she will keep moving, she will not stay put. And just as her fall and splatter is a becoming formless, so her doodling with charcoal will succumb neither to figuration, nor to signification, nor to representation. Her body, charcoal, and pastel move between the intentional and the accidental, between forethought and spontaneity, between marking and erasing, between almost drawing and almost writing but never quite. This is the self-referentiality of the splatter, inexorably tied to the fallen.

As she draws-dances, Brown creates nothing that proposes a theme, that foregrounds a full figure, that advances a well-rounded metaphor, that initiates meaning. The charcoal and pastel lines Brown traces while lying on the floor — lines traced with hands as well as with feet — vaporize in dust, twitch in hesitation, break under her attack, initiate flow, reflect precision, and fall into error.

Occasionally, we see her tracing around a body part arm, foot, knee. When viewing the drawings later, the most we get are possibilities for recognizing that a body might have been there on the canvas, that she might have opted to fully draw it — yet, the final result resists representing complete bodies or properly formed morphologies, just as they do not register steps that can be decoded, rehearsed, and danced again. They are operations, performances. And yet. Rather, Brown generates an inordinate amount of movements, gestures, small steps, microdances that are not at all aimed at the paper, that will not at all imprint or leave their mark on the paper.

Others will remain unmarked as she dances with her focus away from the horizontal, as charcoal misses the page, or as pressure on the pastel is too weak to leave a mark. Missing the mark: a traceless expenditure that is already a deterritorialization of art. It may well be so. Charcoal and pastel on paper. Courtesy Trisha Brown. Should it look at the paper to follow the making of the drawing? Should it look at lines, or at gestures? To keep track of both one has to look up and down and sideways simultaneously. In this dance of the gaze and of attention produced within an excessively parergonic space — frames within frames within frames: the still frame of the video screen, the still frame of the camera lens, the still frame of the gallery walls, the still frame of the paper on the floor — the audience must attend simultaneously to the vertical plane of representation of movement and to the horizontal plane of inscription of traces.

Brown operates simultaneously in both, generating conglomerates of vanishing points in the bidimensional space feed live to the audience as hyperbolically perspectival. Thus, she creates a ceaseless dispersing where no act dancing, drawing or artistic genre dancing, drawing is privileged in relation to the other. Instead, there is a dizzying simultaneity of genres and acts. This dizziness is already a dismantling of the striated order of the perspectival.

Perspective is the effect created by a specific organization of lines on a representational surface usually vertical that secures a geometrically coherent figuration of spatial depth. Thus, perspective always operates by reduction. And what is reduced in perspective is not only the tridimensionality of space, but the embodied nature of perception as the corporeal grounding of sensation surrenders itself to algorithms of visibility.

What is lost then is the embodiment of vision by the means of an operation that subtracts from perception our stereoscopic, decentered, constantly moving eyes and replaces them with an artificially monocular and monomaniacally fixed point of view. What Brown accomplishes in her dancing-drawing is the transformation of the reductive operation of the camera as perspectival machine into a multiplying operation of vision. Distributing, creating, and destroying a multiplicity of vanishing points, Brown makes a space in a closed room that will not place her under the economy of the perspectival, that mode of gazing that historically consigned women to their house arrest.

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After the completion of each drawing, a process that takes somewhere between 10 and 12 minutes, Brown leaves the white room and two museum workers walk in pushing a scaffold. They carefully pick up the inscribed sheet of paper from the floor and hang it on one of the walls. After completing their task of lifting up the drawing from its horizontal-choreographic plane of the floor and fixing it to its new vertical plane,12 the two assistants leave the space, and soon the choreographer returns, starting the process all over again.

The entrance of the assistants marks the entrance of those visual-architectural-economic demands that characterize the museum as a territorializing machine. Thus the formless must be lifted from its horizontal plane of kinetic production for the sake of its relocation on the vertical as object for contemplation.

This rising is a recoiling from the radical motions Brown had performed before us. No longer dancing-drawing: the end product must surrender itself to the destiny of art objects on the vertical-phallic space of representation. The oblique: sculpting dancing wasting Mid-March Glued to the wall, as audiences of live art tend to be when not so sure about where the proscenium is, feeling the warmth of the cardboard, sensing its indefinable smell-color, we are all waiting for Panoramix, the durational performance where La Ribot presents, for just over 3 hours, all of her thirty-four Piezas Distinguidas Distinguished Pieces, — Thus the title Panoramix suggests a summation, a panoramic overview of ten years of its creation.

At first, these pieces were performed in theatrical spaces: small stages or black boxes. This was the case with Piezas Distinguidas —4 and with Mas Distinguidas This relocation brought obvious changes in terms of their presentation: light design would no longer be possible, thus radically changing the formal impact of the carefully constructed images that awed audiences of Piezas Distinguidas; frontal viewing would no longer be guaranteed, given the dismantling of the proscenium; sound sources would become localized and have less acoustic quality.

Also, La Ribot appears in the gallery space naked. She only dresses up according to the requirements of each pieza. Once she finishes each pieza, she returns to nakedness, leaving her clothes scattered around, as detritus, or sculptural lumps on the horizontal.

Thus, relocation did not only change the pieces esthetically, it changed them in kind. As La Ribot wrote, now the space belongs to the spectator and to me without hierarchies. My objects, their bags or coats; their commentaries and my sound; sometimes my stillness and their movement, other times my movement and their stillness. Everything and everyone is scattered around the floor, in an infinite surface, in which we are moving quietly, without any precise direction, without any definite order.

By privileging aimlessness, meandering, drifting even as one stays put , by privileging the creation of indefinite points of view no fixed place for the audience and attention spans the audience may come and go as they please , La Ribot deterritorializes the striated, orthogonal space of the institutional gallery and turns it into a dimension both indeterminate and precarious. Moreover, as her body and our body and her objects and our objects gather on the cardboard floor, there is an unavoidable emphasis on the pervasive effect produced on the art-works and on the audience alike by that unacknowledged transcendental force: the downward pull of gravity.

Panoramix levels us all as already falling. Now, her body deploys a positive relation to gravity that is ontologically crucial. For Heidegger and for La Ribot, gravity appears as that given transcendental force and law to which we all submit without necessarily having to be submissive to it. Thus, one of the ethical tasks of Da-sein the being who knows to be already in throwness and that must strive to master this condition is of understanding how being-in-the-world is conditioned by that earthly imperative Heidegger Moreover, for Heidegger, the coming into being of the work of art is precisely the expression of this permanent tension between the earthly downward pull and the wordly antigravitational operations.

Even before La Ribot walks into the gallery space at Tate Modern, the invisible work of that persistent menace to the well-built called gravity already makes the space perform. The yellow-brown smooth surface of cardboard covering the horizontal plane is littered here and there with a couple of folded wooden chairs, one large piece of white cloth, some undistinguishable small stuff: matter and color and form lumping about just like our bodies squatting, our coats piling, our bags spilling out.

On the four walls around us, hovering some 7 feet high, dozens of objects are held by brown tape. It seems as if any of our own stuff could be taped up there as well. Still Distinguished. Distinguished piece: Candida Iluminaris. Distinguished proprietor: Victor Ramos [Paris]. Photo: Mario Del Curto. Courtesy La Ribot. In Panoramix, the threat of this double falling generates one very specific result: La Ribot creates space that operates as an architectural disturbance. This system of petrification as guarantor of the monological stability of form is predicated on an unwavering signification, the minimum requirement for representational success.

In other words: architecture is an economy of legibility, a double structure of citationality and command legislated by the stability of the upright form. In Panoramix, the operation of architectural disturbance is achieved linguistically by the imminent threat of a falling into asignification of the object-nouns precariously fixed on the walls; it is achieved infralinguistically by the pervasive smell of the cardboard, by the pervasive yielding to the gravitational pull.

The intrusion of asignifying objects, formless forces, and subtle sensations messes up the architectural as hardened orthogonality. Smell blurred straight lines and folded flat planes; it vaporized the rigid striation of the grid. It is the production of such an impalpable and yet materially impacting oblique dimension in contradistinction to the striated legibility of orthogonal space that traverses Panoramix. Hence, the second micromovement: the replacement of spatiality by dimensionality. La Ribot makes for her pieces not a space but a dimension.

Both the distorted and the dysfunctional reveal the inadequacy of orthogonal spatiality before the impalpable dimensionality La Ribot creates for the presentation of her body. In Candida Iluminaris Distinguished Piece 30, , property of Victor Ramos, Paris , La Ribot switches on a pocket flashlight, places it on the floor aiming it at the farthest wall, and within the cone of light shed on the floor, proceeds to line up a series of objects, starting at the vertex with a minuscule piece of jewelry and going all the way up to one of the dismantled chairs on the floor, to finally end the sequence with her naked body lying on the floor, belly up, eyes closed, humming with mouth shut for some 2 or 3 minutes.

Here, the forcing of perspective within a field of light leads from a sequence of odd objects to a vibrating, sonorous body, horizontally dancing its active stillness. La Ribot wrote about the function of the still at the time she moved her pieces from the theatre building to the gallery space. In her text, she mentions how stillness is a choreographic strategy, one that allows dance to step out of representation and into a different economy of presence. The question is this: where did all that cardboard covering the huge area of the gallery come from?

But, if after the laughter we stay with the literal question for one more second, we find out it is not at all an unreasonable one. Actually, Panoramix quickly seems to provide an answer — one weaving a nonteleological, nonchronometric time with the generative instability of badly built space. Early on in the unfolding of the thirty-four piezas, La Ribot grabs from the wall a small square piece of cardboard maybe 30 inches wide and proceeds to walk back and forth across the gallery carrying it always parallel to the vertical plane of her body.

Right from the start of the Piezas Distinguidas series La Ribot takes as a privileged object a vertical plane of cardboard. Could it be that this small cardboard square, which emerged apparently out of nowhere right at the very start of Piezas Distinguidas, ten years before Panoramix was conceived, is the origin of it all — a portable miniature, a perpendicular teasing, an anachronic announcement of the massive cardboard floor in Panoramix?

Distinguished piece: Another Bloody Mary.

The Modern Revolution: Crash Course Big History #8

Distinguished proprietor: Lois Keidan and Franko B. How did it expand itself massively across the floor to the very limits of the gallery space? Again, the question is that of architecture as structure of legibility. In the context of a proscenium theater, for which Fatelo Con Me was first conceived, the piece of cardboard had a specific visual-dramaturgical function: as La Ribot paced across the stage, she kept the cardboard always between her body and the audience, thus covering her breasts, buttocks, and sex. This choreography of humorous modesty was only possible due to the frontal position of the audience in relation to the perspectival proscenium.

But, in the space of the gallery, such architectural legibility collapses: there is no front, no back, no proper placing of audience, no proper placing for the body to become image. During the rendition of Fatelo Con Me in Panoramix, two museum workers stood on opposite walls of the gallery and kept the audience behind an imaginary line running between them.


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  • As stand-ins for an absent architectural construct, the museum workers prevented the audience from crossing over the boundary they defined. They were the embodiment of the architectural imperative of the representational. This is a moment that once again reveals the relationship between verticality, architecture, representation, and the gaze. As Jacques Lacan has shown, if there is something of the body that precedes its structuring while nevertheless determining its building, if there is something in perception that participates of the signifying-representational premises of the well built, that something is the gaze.

    Paul Virilio discusses the parallels between gravity, representation, architecture, the vertical figure, legibility, and the weight of the gaze: Weight and gravity are key elements in the organization of perception. The Quattrocento perspective cannot be separated from the orientation effect of the field of vision caused by gravity, and also by the frontal dimension of the canvas which is never at a slant. Both painting and research on perspective have always been conducted on a frontal dimension. And that is why the stupid question about the cardboard is so crucial.

    For, if a piece of cardboard appears to function for and with frontal viewing, the fact that years later it ends up extended on the floor of the gallery implies that the presentation La Ribot is so interested in must be one constantly oscillating between the vertical plane of the representational and the horizontal plane of the choreographic — the choreographic understood here as the inscription on a page of a symbolic of movement.

    This constant oscillation, these translational movements, imply the insertion of many obliques, of the slant Virilio sees as neglected in Western representation and architecture. The slant refers not only to oblique angles, those mediating the vertical and the horizontal, but to the force of oblique looks, sliding glances with eyes at an angle. In the case of Panoramix this fundamental oscillation between vertical and horizontal that introduces the oblique — a plane on which everything is already sliding, falling, hard to hold — is performed via three antiarchitectural the architectural being understood here as the well- building of form and signification operations: the dilution of the orthogonal, the dilution of objecthood in the very objects used in piezas, and the dilution of a presence and a subjectivity subservient to the representational.

    What this ontohistorical ground generates as its privileged model is a body that had to be able to simultaneously operate on the vertical plane of objectal and formal representation and the horizontal plane of writing and drawing. This is a body whose integration and congruence happens by and in the split between the two Benjaminian planes. On the vertical plane, dance demands perception fall within the parameters of frontal representation and linear perspective as already required by Georges Noverre in his famous Letters on Dancing and Ballet ;17 on the horizontal plane, dance demands perception to follow traces of steps, so as to guarantee the possibility of reading the choreographic design as with Feuillet, for instance.

    In both cases, it is visibility as legibility that is privileged. It is the orthogonal fixity between the two planes that is required. La Ribot initiates a different relation, through her critique of the orthogonal, by requiring an attending to the oblique nature of the dancing body — one implying an impending falling off of visibility, legibility, verticality, the well-built, and teleology. So far, I have discussed the generative spatial instability of Panoramix related to the slanted motions of the badly built. What of its temporality? Could there be a temporal slanting taking place?

    Rather than accumulative, an operation predicated on repetition and sequentiality, Panoramix jumbles up the chronological sequence of production of its series. So, instead of repetition, it emphasizes a temporal effect that is contractile. In Panoramix, there is spatial obliqueness as much as there is temporal contraction, which is, as Deleuze and Guattari pointed out, already an introduction of oblique lines within temporality. Contraction is a term drawn from the philosophy of Henri Bergson — it implies an understanding of the present as simultaneously and permanently splitting open towards the past in dilation and towards what-will-come in contraction.

    For contraction implies not only the body opening itself up towards what-will-come, but also to all the potencies of the temporally subjected body, in what Gilles Deleuze called contraction-subjectivity Deleuze Here, the past emerges as contemporaneous to the present that has been and extends itself as matter- memory. And what is that being that constantly performs this weaving of contemporaneity into pastness and back from the future if not the body — moving its presence not in a spatial grid, but in the multifolded dimensionality of its unstable, slanted, oblique throwness into time?

    Panoramix acts in the present tense while pushing the past against the future of memory. But Panoramix proposes that contraction, which is a temporal operation through which matter and memory mingle ontologically, can happen only after the toppling of the archiframing of the vertical plane of representation and only after the angling of the horizontal plane of inscription.

    Like the image of La Ribot lying as dying mermaid on the cardboard, spasming next to our bodies huddled on the floor, receiving the weight of our gaze, expanding her presence across the glow-hum scent of the floor, becoming weight, becoming floor, pulsating on the floor, pulsating the floor, pulsing time, making space in the unstable obliqueness of the unconstructed. Fanon Why frame a discussion on William Pope. In the only essay authored by Pope. L published in the first comprehensive catalogue of his work, he writes: I am of African ancestry, but I do not speak to the gods.

    I speak to the MCI [telephone company] representative. I speak to my mother. Bessire 72 Pope. L creates his art — and, more specifically, where he performs his crawls.

    Left Behind: 1. At the End of Time

    While considering how Pope. L kinetically performs not only a profound critique of whiteness and blackness, of verticality and of horizontality, but also a general critique of ontol- ogy, a general critique of the kinetic dimension of our contemporaneity, and a general critique of abject processes of subjectivization and embodiment under the racist-colonialist machine — all by proposing a particular form of moving after the Fanonian stumble.

    Thus, by siding Fanon, Heidegger and Pope. L we discover an ontopolitical ground that is not stable or flat, but ceaselessly quivering and grooving. Under the seismological effect, being, body and figure all endure a radical blurring. I will propose that Pope.

    This chapter aims at identifying some of those assumptions, particularly those that link movement, colonialism, and racism to the questions of presence, visibility, and the ground of dance. And what seems to make ontology out of grasp is the fact of colonization and its racisms. What was this project? What about Heidegger? Thus, one year after the publication of the first edition of Black Skin, White Masks, Heidegger is retelling us, when he finally publishes his lectures on metaphysics, that it is no longer enough for being to simply emerge in the field of presence, nor to just make itself appear in the field of light, nor to announce itself as that which fully occupies the present with its full presence.

    Rather, for Heidegger what is, the essent, enters into the realm of being the moment it is infused with a minimum amount of movement. Heidegger is choreographically specific when describing the infusion of movement into ontology. The essent oscillates — between absence and presence, concealing and revealing, visibility and invisibility, unity and multiplicity. Only these particular movement-qualities guarantee the full emerging of being as presence: wavering, oscillation, vibration. It is both present and absent. For these notions are essential for understanding how William Pope.

    Since the mids, William Pope. L has worked in many genres, from painting to sculpture, from installation art to performance art, from video art to poetry. His prolific work can be seen as an esthetic and a political statement about the impossibility for contemporary art to sustain the very notion of artistic genre. It is not even that his work is interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary. Rather, the question of discipline is dropped altogether from the equation, to be replaced by an emphasis on the ethics of the artist as laborer. A student of Allan Kaprow, Pope.

    Fluxus influences can be found also in Pope. Importantly, the zones of discomfort Pope. L creates for and with his audience are zones neither of open confrontation, nor full-out antagonism. Discomfort zones are carefully constructed by Pope. L always on foundations that allow for the possibility of their transformation into generative zones for dialoguing and relationality. In order to achieve this, he relies on dramaturgies that allow him to create, at least temporarily, a very real possibility of full-blown confrontation only to immediately dispel this threat through a disarming, often humorous, call for dialogue.

    Figure 5. Photo: James Pruznick. Courtesy William Pope. These exclusions, by the way, may happen in the friendliest of environments; for instance, in welcoming and enthusiastic critical appraisals of his work. In the text I already mentioned that Pope. Bessire and Ms. Crawford to find my work intriguing so I go along with the idea that there is, in fact, a link between my work and that of bocio [west African vodun artifacts] artist-activators.

    But in the same breath I also say to myself: Why is it not enough that I am a black American artist? Apparently, I need to get blacker. More authentic. I must become the black American artist with dark, mysterious, atavistic roots in some primitive Otherness. Who is speaking here? Who is telling me this? In his White Drawings pen and marker on notebook paper, —1 , a series of forty-eight small framed drawings each containing a short phrase written in block letters in either red or yellow, Pope. L creates series of short sentences as so many minimal syntagmatic elements that both reveal and deploy a counternarrative to well-meaning systems of exclusion.

    Because they so clearly embrace horizontality, Pope. But Pope. L tackles the question of presence by positing as its condition of possibility the stumble of being and being never fully belonging to itself. It is in relation to these fantasies where both desire and violence intertwine and are then ambiguously aimed at the black male, that William Pope.

    The black male body a. BAM , being male, attempts to preserve and promote its presence at the cost of its lack. Because in our society, masculinity is measured in presence. However, no matter how much presence the BAM contrives, it will continue to be marked as lack. This is the dilemma for the BAM. In his street performance Member a. L walks in the streets of Harlem with a six feet long plastic tube attached to his groin and propped on wheels. For his excessive phallic display is filled with ambivalences. Earlier, I stated that for Fanon this being-in-lack of the black body is a matter of historical circumstances.

    And, from the quote above, it seems that Pope. L agrees with Fanon. But I would like to note how Pope. L also complicates Fanon. According to art critic C. Carr, Pope. L complicates the Lacanian model by affirming that the lack black men are assigned to have by the symbolic is a thing worth having. But remember also that for Pope. The empty seats next to the black man on the train are not fully empty, nor fully full.

    This is a repression of amplification, of sound and most specifically of abounding [. The hole speaks of lack, division, incompleteness; the whole speaks of an extremity, an incommensurability of excess, the going past the signifier. Moten Going past the signifier by the means of the abundant lack — a movement that maps the complicated positionality of what Pope. If the black male body signifies a raced masculinity that is paradoxically both affirmed and negated by the symbolic, then its odd acronym BAM aligns the question of being a black male body to an acoustics of conflict, to the ballistics of language in the field of racism: BAM!

    BAM zooms past the signifier only to reorient ontology by insisting in the fundamental paradoxicality affirming a black mode of being while standing on the ontohistorical ground of racism. It was with a particularly powerful interruptive acoustic-image that Pope. L performed an intervention at Tate Modern in March of Invited to deliver a talk at the event Live, Pope.

    L arrived for his slotted time, walked to the podium and proceeded to read a minute-long text of pure glossolalia. He then left the stage and disappeared from the event. According to some people I met who were part of the organization of the event, throughout his stay in London Pope.