Anthology Unfolding the Critical - bis


On April 23, 2006, Sarma curates a small colloquium during the Dance Congress Germany, which is organised by the Federal Cultural Foundation (Germany) in the House of World Cultures in Berlin.

The issue of art criticism triggers the question of what the 'critical' element of this criticism actually implies. Does art criticism hold this 'critical' aspect on a lease, or does it share this capacity (and the task) with the creation of art and the curatorial compilation of a programme? How is the 'critical' implemented in these practices? How to disentangle this cluster of concerns and criteria? And above all, in what way can criticality be applied in the artistic field at the present time?

Sarma’s objective is to stimulate dance and performance criticism and this by means of both online and offline activities. It wants to enhance reflection on the particular genre by widening up its scope to art criticism in general and to critique in a broader sense of the word, including philosophical, ethical, political, cultural etc. aspects. When reflecting upon criticism, many authors are prone to address poetical matters of description and interpretation, even contextual matters. Still, the question of what the critical component consists of remains often open. What does ‘being critical’ actually hinge upon?

In Sarma’s first colloquium Unfolding the critical (March 2003), central questions revolved around the critical as the blind spot of criticism and other artistic practices. Why is criticism critical? Why do many artists nowadays claim to produce critical work? The proliferation of disciplines and the changing embodiment of the professional roles of artist, critic, curator, dramaturge and theoretician entail a kind of role hopping: what happens in the spill-over? What perspective does it produce upon the critical in these different practices?

One observation must be made three years later: ‘criticality’ has become much more of a central paradigm in both theory and the arts. We are ourselves part of the cultural practices we observe, describe, discuss and criticise, we can’t hold on to the convenient outsider’s position that has stimulated criticism and critique since the Enlightenment. And yet it is not clear to what extent an understanding of this notion of ‘criticality’ is shared amongst a larger group of theoreticians, critics, artists and curators, although they’re all eager to claim their practice as ‘critical’.

Doesn’t the ‘critical’ risk to become a fetish of discourse and artistic practice? Isn’t the ‘critical’ soaked with a melancholic yearning for a stable position? Or has the ‘critical’ become a totalising concept that rather sets standards for reflection than deconstruct them? If a traditional paradigm of critique has come to an end in our world – global and explosive, overflowing with media and images as it is – which strategies of distancing do take its place? Which constructive approaches and modes of cultural expression do we develop within the arts to reflect upon society?

Text collection

On the occasion of Unfolding the Critical, Sarma published a collection of texts on criticism, criticality and some related issues. Also the participants in the colloquium contributed texts by way of introducing their ideas and positions.

In December 2004, on the occasion of the Tanznacht Berlin, Jeroen Peeters published an essay on the state of criticism in Berlin, which has caused a lot of debate. Sarma tracked down the discussion and collected next to the unabridged German and English versions of Peeters' analysis two preparatory interviews with the critic Franz Anton Cramer and the Scholar Pirkko Husemann, a column by theatre critic Peter Laudenbach in the city magazine Tip, letters by Ulrike Melzwig in response, as well as another personal contribution on 'responsibility' by Franz Anton Cramer in Tanzjournal. Around the same time Franz Anton Cramer and Constanze Klementz published elsewhere on dance criticism, while Martin Nachbar tried to enter into a debate with FAZ's dance critic Wiebke Hüster.

Over the past years discussions on dance criticism have often been intertwined with quarrels over the state of the arts. Especially the so-called "conceptual dance" has provoked many reactions, reaching from disapproving reviews to attempts to (re)define the term. Earlier Sarma collected debates in Belgium, France and the Netherlands on this (see Klapstuk #11 BIS), now we made a start to collect also German texts on the issue.

In March 2003 Sarma published a first Anthology Unfolding the Critical.

Programme of the colloquium

April 23, 10.00 a.m. Introduction by Jeroen Peeters Sarma editor and curator Jeroen Peeters introduces the mini-colloquium

April 23, 10.45 a.m. On the mode of the critical by Irit Rogoff, keynote lecture Within a relatively short span of time, the definition of critique has changed: from the criticism of something, to critical treatises on something, to criticality as something. The understanding of critique as experience and process bridges the gap between allegedly ignorant art recipients and knowledgeable art critics. Criticality lies in the experience of a shared and consciously taken risk, from which one can longer critically distance oneself.

Prof. dr. Irit Rogoff holds a University Chair in Art History and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Rogoff writes extensively on the conjunctions of contemporary art with critical theory with particular reference to issues of colonialism, cultural difference, and Performativity. She is author of Terra Infirma: Geography's Visual Culture (2000), editor of The Divided Heritage: Themes and Problems in German Modernism (1991), and co-editor, with Daniel Sherman, of Museum Culture: Histories, Theories, Spectacles (1994). Rogoff is director of an international AHRB research project Cross Cultural Contemporary Arts, housed at Goldsmiths College.

April 23, 11.30 a.m. The standpoint of critique: Critical introspection by Dorothea Von Hantelmann, lecture A function of today's art and culture is considered to be the critical description of society. What relationship does such a concept of critique as critical description have with another model of "pure critique", which aims at construction, action and therefore also at change? Wherein lie the positions of the critical? And what does it mean to be beyond critique?

Dorothea von Hantelmann was research project assistant at the Berliner special research department "Kulturen des Performativen" and wrote her doctorate on the meaning of the performative in the fine arts. She has also curated and co-curated various projects, among them "Wahlverwandtschaften" for the Wiener Festwochen 1999, "I like Theater & Theater likes me" for the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg (2001) and "I promise it's political" for the Museum Ludwig 2002 in Cologne. Among her publications are essays on performativity and criticism as well as articles on artist such as James Coleman, Daniel Buren, Jeff Koons and Pierre Huyghe.

April 23, 12.30 a.m. Unfolding the critical: round robin, dialogue Following the theoretical lectures on the critical, there will be an excursion into practice with a dialogical question and answer round of dance critics, a choreographer and a curator, all discussing the following question: What is the critical component in your practice?

Eva-Elisabeth Fischer was originally a scholar of English and German literature and has been associated with the S|ddeutsche Zeitung for 27 years now, since 1985 as an editor in the departments Feuilleton and Travel. Her areas of interest are dance, Judaism, Travel-Feuilletons. She also writes for the magazine ballett-tanz as well as for radio and TV culture magazine programs, a.o. 45-minute film-portraits of Pina Bausch and William Forsythe. In addition, she has published widely in magazines and books.

Constanze Klementz (1976) lives in Berlin and writes since 1997 as a freelance author on dance for magazines and daily newspapers, among them Theater der Zeit, zitty and the Berliner Morgenpost. She took ballet training for ten years at the Berliner Tanzakademie (Tatjana Gsovsky) until 1990 and graduated in 2002 in theater studies, philosophy and German literature at the Free University Berlin with a thesis on Friedrich Nietzsche in the discourse of German dance theory after 1900. Constanze Klementz is a Sarma-critic, you can find her personal page and poetics here

Martin Nachbar (1971) lives in Berlin, is dancer and choreographer and writes occasionally for various European dance and theater magazines. He received his training at the School for New Dance Development (Amsterdam), in New York and at P.A.R.T.S. (Brussels). He was a co-founder of the collective B.D.C./Plischke, for whom he a.o. reconstructed the dance series Affectos Humanos by Dore Hoyer. As a dancer Nachbar has worked with Les Ballets C. de la B., Vera Mantero, Thomas Lehmen a.o. 2004 collaboration with the composer Benjamin Schweitzer. In 2005, he organized the meeting on dance education 2005 together with Ulrike Melzwig and the fabrik Potsdam and collaborated with Jochen Roller on the project mnemonic nonstop. Own pieces are the solos Ausflug and Verdeckte Ermittlung and the duet ja, ja, der dritte mann.

Dr. Johannes Odenthal is curator and journalist. Artistic director at the House of World Cultures in the department, music, dance and theater. He is the artistic director of the annual festival IN TRANSIT as well as numerous programs on the subjects of migration, cultural identity, the Near East, India and China. Recent publications:, Zeitgenvssischer Tanz in Deutschland (Berlin 2005), Kvrper Tanz Politik, Essays zwischen 1990 und 2005 (Berlin 2005). From 1986 to 1997, publisher and editor-in-chief of the magazine tanz aktuell and ballet tanz.

Gabriele Wittmann (1961, Stuttgart) studied American literature, Romance languages and musicology in Paris and at the University Hamburg. Since 1993, freelance dance critic for cultural magazine programs in the ARD - for Deutschlandfunk, the Norddeutscher and the S|dwest-Rundfunk, for MDR, SR, BR and Radio Bremen. Writes for the cultural magazine program "Foyer" at ZDF/3sat and the "Tele-Tanzjournal". Contributed to numerous books and specialist publications on dance in magazines such as ballettanz and Tanzjournal. Since 2003, lecturer for dance criticism in the theater, music theater and dance criticism department as part of the Hessische Theaterakademie at the Hochschule f|r Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt/Main.

All the talks and discussions are documented on Sarma (added soon).

Results 1-20 of 30, page 1 of 2

Author Title Publication Year
Martin Nachbar How to become a trespasser or how to produce a crack in the map Etcetera 2005
Jeroen Peeters Introduction Unfolding the critical Sarma 2006
Jeroen Peeters Dance critic: profession, role, personage, performance? Stationen 2004
Franz Anton Cramer Aus Mangel für Verantwortung TanzJournal 2005
Jeroen Peeters Brainstorming... (Dt.) Tanz made in Berlin 2004
Jeroen Peeters Brainstorming… (Eng.) Tanz made in Berlin 2004
Eva-Elisabeth Fischer Criticism Sarma 2006
Franz Anton Cramer Dance criticism in Berlin Sarma 2004
Pirkko Husemann Dance criticism in Berlin Sarma 2004
André Lepecki Dance without distance Ballettanz 2001
Gabriele Wittmann Der Fachkritiker als boulevardesker Allrounder Sarma 2006
Martin Nachbar Der Zahnschmerz des Anderen Ballettanz 2004
Martin Nachbar Ist der zeitgenössische Tanz noch zu retten? Tanznetz 2005
Wiebke Hüster Ist der zeitgenössische Tanz noch zu retten? Deutschlandradio Berlin 2005
Eva-Elisabeth Fischer Kritik Sarma 2006
Martin Nachbar Mnemonic Nonstop ausgraben Ballettanz 2005
Irit Rogoff On the mode of the critical Sarma 2006
Constanze Klementz Perpetuum mobile. Tanz made in Berlin 2004
Constanze Klementz Personal Basics (English) Sarma 2006
Constanze Klementz Personal Basics (German) Sarma 2006

Results 1-20 of 30, page 1 of 2