ZEITGENOSS*IN SEIN BEING CONTEMPORARY
It's amazing: We all come together at the same time. Because we are all here...and you're all here... and so we are all here together. (Forced Entertainment)
What is it that creates, maintains or separates our (dance) worlds and our relationship to time? Whom do we address with our movements, words and actions? What does it mean to face one's times in a contemporary – or entirely 'untimely' – and very open way? And what is it that makes us contemporaries in the first place?
Zeitgenossenschaft, the German word for contemporaneity – aptly described by the Swiss literary scholar Sandro Zanetti in his 2011 essay 'Poetische Zeitgenossenschaft' (Poetic Contemporaneity) as a camouflage word that obscures what it seeks to explicate – links two essentially constitutive elements of the Dance Congress: Zeit (time) and Genossenschaft (co-operative). For us, time, our time – meaning the present – with its special features, characteristics, demands and excesses forms the basis and the very precondition of the artistic, theoretical, practical and scientific events of the Dance Congress 2016. In a Call for Proposals, we asked the dance world: 'In which time are we living?' and 'How does dance reflect our time?', and received the most various answers.
Connected with this call for participation is the question of perspective: Who thinks and formulates from which point of view? Is everyone only speaking for themselves? Or is there something that unites and to which the various positions refer? Drawing on the motif of community, which is based on common grounds and the sense of being part of a group, the concept of Genossenschaft is taken a step further and strives for a collective goal and shared interests for the sake of which different individuals temporarily join together and organise themselves. Hence, the concept of contemporaneity not only describes the fact that we are living in the same time as contemporary individuals, but also raises the question of what else connects or separates us – and in which way. In philosophy, theology and pedagogy, a 'shaping common history', the 'challenge of contemporary events' or also the 'responsibility to face the times' are described as constitutive of contemporaneity. Dance, insofar as it is grasped as contemporary, is also an art form in which a large number of contemporaries confront both their own times and the responsibility for these times.
For this year's edition, the concept of contemporaneity serves as a source of friction to critically deal with our aesthetic, cultural and production-specific frames of reference and paradigms. This defining of one's own times and determining one's position in it, for which the Dance Congress has been conceived, encompasses a broad range of thematic fields: Questions arise as to the various modes of community building, forms of collective action and sharing within artistic work structures, as well as political, social and aesthetic fields of conflict. Discussions are concerned with the values and norms that are fundamental to contemporary dance training and the hierarchical structures in which different cultural and aesthetic attitudes and descents are integrated. Light is shed on the importance of a stronger orientation towards holistic and somatic practices and on the way in which breaks, gaps and overwriting of Western and non-Western dance historiography are treated.
The main focus is on the physical, political, social and not least artistic desire to relate to our environment with all of our senses and actions and to grasp the moving body as a seismograph of our times. From this perspective the thematic focus 'Border Effects' was also developed. Questions are raised in view of current processes of change and reordering as to whose contemporaneity it actually is that we are negotiating, and how we can relate to immaterial and material, everyday and overall bordering processes, and position ourselves within them.
The thematic focuses of the Congress programme are deliberately not structured in clearly separated fields, but organised like a network and interwoven by cross-references. The knowledge that is to be generated and shared in the events cannot be ordered in a linear or hierarchical manner, but is meant to proliferate rhizomatically in all directions.
The practical realisation of such a dynamic culture of knowledge in the structure of the programme manifests a prerequisite of contemporaneity that can only emerge through the participation of diverse voices and different perspectives on one's own time. The fact that in this diversity of voices, points of view necessarily shift, overlap, disappear, are magnified or reduced, etc., reveals the essential feature of contemporaneity as a state of highest topicality: its unconditional dependency on a certain time and its historicity.