A movement forward and backward:

(from history to/through the body) the body’s will to archive: the body’s capacity to activate a still un-exhausted creative fields of possibility in a past work, historical event, or ritualized performance, (what else would fall under this category?). this creative act tapping into a very concrete and very real virtuality (must revisit this concept in its original form in Massumi) “which remains fully contemporary in its demands for actualization” (Body as A 45).

(from body to archive/static form) archival “fever” or impetus, from which technologies and fields of capture emerge: photography, choreography, cinema.

The Body as Archive: Will to Re-Enact and the Afterlives of Dances

In this piece Lepecki examines contemporary choreographic stagings of past works (re-enactments) under an anti-Orpheus (under which the dancer has no “right to turn back” on their past, ie no right to historicity) premise from which generative claims about the historicity of the dancer can be made. This against Hal Foster’s arguments that the “paranoic” impulse of contemporary performance arts comes from a failure in/of cultural memory.

Foucault’s postulations (Archeology of Knowledge) on what relating to the past means and generates resonate through Lepecki’s analysis. While Foster ascribes a “paranoia” to the impulse to archive, Foucault allows us to see that archiving can be a way of transforming, on the whole, “the economy of the temporal” by re-enacting a past work in ways that transform past, present, and future, rather than melancholically seeking to go back to a “misplaced time.”

Lepecki’s “specifically choreographic will-to-archive,” which he proposes instead of the psychoanalytically induced term of archival impulse, is the ability to identify in a past work still non-exhausted fields of impalpable possibilities. These fields that “involve the possible” (Massumi) are what re-enactments activate.

There is always something imminent in a work of art—a creative field of impalpable possibilities that a re-enactment can tap into for a process of invention: a work fully itself but whose condition of possibility was the still un-exhausted life of a past work. It is “invention in all its powers” that drives Lepecki to draw this paradigmatic distinction between psychoanalytic models of “impulse” or “drive” as qualifiers for the work done in choreographing past works.

difference not= failure

Where Hall sees re-enactment work as taking the “inevitable” failure of replicating an original as crrative point of departure, Lepecki leans into that “full inventive” capacity of the re-enactment to assert that the artist’s re-turn is their very power—that is, power to create difference. Difference becomes the political imperative of the dancer: to re-turn as an act of creativity within repetition where the “after lives” of past works, of history, are made to “attain its latest, continually renewed, and most complete unfolding” (Benjamin 1996, qtd. in Lepecki).

Choreopolice and Choreopolitics. Or, the Task of the Dancer

Hannah Arendt’s “not yet” as point of departure: we do not yet know how to move politically. Given Arendt’s conception of the political, Lepecki suggests that an equivalent to that statement is that we do not yet know how to move freely.

In the museum work Tatlin’s Whisper #5, Bruguera has a crowd control police officer mounted on horseback. People react to this in the same way they would on the street. Lepecki suggests that this phenomenon captures the predicament of freedom in our times: the predicament not of policing but of self-policing. There needs not be police in order for policing to take effect—the “introjection of control” prophesized by Deleuze: “control not only tracks, but also […] preconditions freedom from within by providing subtle pathways for circulation that are introjected as the only ones imaginable” (Lepecki commenting on Deleuze 15).

Again: there needs to be no police in order for policing to take effect, for policing, unfreedom, is a “generalized [disembodied, ubiquitous] function of power (19).

The choreo of the police

The choreographic function of power symbolized by the police has to do with the introjection of control that implements self-policing mechanisms into bodies in the polity. The police is a “political-theoretical” concept, that which is “pregiven in the circulatory organization” of society with its imposed pathways and routes outside of which movement is forbidden, punished: “in that sense, [the police] does not hail. Instead, it choreographs” (19). The “pre” element, the temporal sequence, seems key here. Like an algorithm, the effect of control takes place—predetermines, by making any other possibility obsolete—before the action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *