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Gabriele Klein: The (Micro)Politics of Social Choreography
The (Micro)Politics of Social Choreography
(p. 193 – 208)

The Politics and aesthetics of participation

Gabriele Klein

The (Micro)Politics of Social Choreography
Aesthetic and Political Strategies of Protest and Participation

Translated by Elena Polzer

PDF, 16 pages

The cover of the December 2011 issue of the US magazine Time1 featured a face veiled by a golden cloth. Underneath the title: The Protester. The magazine had declared this persona, the anonymous protester, to be their personality of the year. In doing so, Time magazine wished to honor those, who have committed themselves to the protest movements and claimed the streets as a new site of a democratic culture of participation: from the protests taking place in the Arabic world, to the demonstrations against the budget cutbacks of European governments, against nuclear energy, right up to the Occupy Movement in New York. “There is this contagion of protest”, says Times’ editor-in-chief Richard Stengel. “These people who risked their lives … I think it is changing the world for the better.”2

In these protest movements a new globalized political culture of participation is emerging and operating on a local level in urban spaces. The protesters are demanding a more democratic culture or – in the already established democracies, which I will concentrate on in this text – new forms of participation and involvement3 that go beyond the processes of authorization and legitimization already inherent to representative democracy.

Taking place almost parallel to the emergence of these new public manifestations of a political culture of participation, performers and choreographers, but also established institutions of culture and education, as well as local politicians have (again) been developing a growing interest in participatory performance and choreographic projects in the public sphere since the 1990’s. Artistic distrust of the established institutions of art, such as museums, operas or theaters, has drawn these projects to the public sphere and here in particular to the “non-places4, such as train stations or airports, the now theatricalized urban spaces of consumer culture, where these projects transform pedestrians into audience. Or these projects take place in marginalized urban areas or municipal institutions, where artists, in most cases, work with the local population or the specific clientele of that institution, which has commissioned the project from them.

This text seeks to demonstrate the interrelationship of these two movements in art and politics existing parallel to each other in time, but otherwise seemingly independent from one another. The main questions that I will look at here are:

How is the term participation defined in these different...

  • politics
  • social movements
  • performativity
  • body
  • protest
  • community
  • choreography
  • Post-Fordism
  • participatory culture
  • protest movements

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Gabriele Klein

has been Professor for Sociology of Movement, Sports and Dance at the Dept. for human movement at the University of Hamburg (UHH) since 2002. She is Director of Performance Studies Hamburg, Co-Director of the Research Center for Media and Communication at the University of Hamburg. Her main research areas include Performance Studies, Dance Studies, Dance in popular culture and urban environments, transnationalisation of dance cultures. She was a Guest Professor at the Department for Performance Studies, University of California in Los Angeles, USA, the University in Bern, Switzerland, the »Mozarteum« in Salzburg, Austria, the Smith College, USA, and at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Other texts by Gabriele Klein for DIAPHANES
Stefan Hölscher (ed.), Gerald Siegmund (ed.): Dance, Politics & Co-Immunity

Stefan Hölscher (ed.), Gerald Siegmund (ed.)

Dance, Politics & Co-Immunity

Softcover, 288 pages

Out of Stock

PDF, 288 pages

This volume is dedicated to the question of how dance, both in its historical and in its contemporary manifestations, is intricately linked to conceptualisations of the political. Whereas in this context the term "policy" means the reproduction of hegemonic power relations within already existing institutional structures, politics refers to those practices which question the space of policy as such by inscribing that into its surface which has had no place before. The art of choreography consists in distributing bodies and their relations in space. It is a distribution of parts that within the field of the visible and the sayable allocates positions to specific bodies. Yet in the confrontation between bodies and their relations, a deframing and dislocating of positions may take place. The essays included in this book are aimed at the multiple connections between politics, community, dance, and globalisation from the perspective of e.g. Dance and Theatre Studies, History, Philosophy, and Sociology.