Choreographer Matthias Sperling, curator and host of the Nottdance Debates series, offers a summary of the content from the event, which took place on Thursday 9 March. Time signatures indicate their approximate location in the footage for navigation
Introductions of the speakers begin and Matthias introduces the provocation:
How do we orient ourselves as artists to the current political situation? Post-referendum, it has often been said that our society is more sharply divided than ever and new kinds of listening are needed: can we do anything about that through our work as artists, and do we want to?
02:58 – 08:40 Choreographer and scholar Efrosini Protopapa shares ‘three confessions and an afterthought’, including reflections on how we recognise the perspectives from which we are speaking, whether or not she sees her work as political, and what naming this event a ‘debate’ might suggest.
08:41 – 15:43 Art Historian Lucy Bradnock poses the questions: ‘How can we listen to our collective past? What can we learn from the past?’, bringing in perspectives on how artists in other times and places have responded to questions of political engagement, and how the the past can become practical to us today.
15:59 – 19:50 Artist/dancer Jamila Johnson-Small changes the experiential environment, reading in the dark from a poetic text that she wrote, evoking walking through “my metropolis”, describing a recurring dream of buried rubbish pushing up through cracks in pavements and roads, getting “a daily trampling good and proper”, and sharing tactics for how not to drown in “the sensory overload’”of “my daily existence inside the binary”.
20:19 – 32:23 Choreographer Jonathan Burrows reflects on the implicit politics of dance. Gathering references to the thinking and practices of artists including Deborah Hay and Chrysa Parkinson, he unfolds a perspective on how dance “seems to involve a politics that, unlike the overt declarations of visual art, must by necessity do but not necessarily declare.”
32:40 – end In the collective discussion that follows, some of the many questions addressed include:
- How does redefining success support a redirection of the political engagement of artistic practices?
- If dance has a hidden politics, who is it hidden from and when?
- Who does (and doesn’t) our work make contact with, and what are the dynamics determining that?
- How accurate are our ‘maps’ of understanding of the societies or nations that we live in?
- How do those maps get formed and how do they inform the work that we make as artists?