The Dance Community Picture Series

By way of advertisements in various magazines, media, dance venues, etc. we reach out to anyone who feels part of the 'dance community' to turn up on a particular hour, day, place, for a photo shoot. Maybe 5 people turn up, maybe 500, it all depends, and all is fine: whoever turns up is part of an ‘official’ group portrait picture that claims to represent the Dance Community on that very day in that very city. It may be a blunt or bold gesture, but what else can one expect when one deals with issues of ‘self’ representation of a community, a multitude, a plenitude, on the edge of impossibility, phantasm, and pragmatism. How do we picture 'communities' and how do we see our own sense of belonging in that?


Dance Community Picture Cairo 12 December 2006
Dance Community Picture Berlin 17 December 2006
Dance Community Picture New York, 23 September 2007

What is a community picture ?

Who would come to a photo shoot announced in such a manner - outgoing and oblique at the same time ? Who would feel adressed ? Was there such a thing as a dance community in the first place, and if there were one, was it representable at all ? For sure, a collective photo shoot would portray a crowd of people, but would it also pass as the representation of a community ? Whereas in the tradtion of photography the group portrait is a well-established genre, the ‘community picture’ is not an existing genre. It may be because in contrast to any finite group of people, the ‘community’ is always already a category that is infused with the phantasmagorical. One can capture people in one’s lense, but the strands of ideology that make people adhere to certain formations and make those into ‘communities’ are much harder to seize.

What makes a community ? With Jean-Luc Nancy one could say : « communauté inavouable parce que trop nombreuse mais aussi parce qu’elle ne se connaît pas elle-même, et n’a pas à se connaître. » It is precisely these paradoxes at the verge of impossibility that the project Community Picture seeks to embrace. After a concept of dramaturge, curator and writer Myriam Van Imschoot it seeks to investigate how the notion of ‘community’ operates and manifests itself in a specific context by way of people’s response to an open invitation. It does not celebrate the community nor does it affirm it uncritically ; rather it offers a frame to see what identifications and disidentifications operate in and around such a notion. Driven by curiosity and wonder, within the tradition of frivolous science and research methods, it boldy seeks to represent an ‘unrepresentable’.

For the first series of the Community Pictures the focus is on ‘dance communities’, with photo shoots of ‘dance communities’ in Cairo (12 December 2006), Berlin (17 December 2006) and New York (23 September 2007), perhaps also in Vienna (date to be determined). Especially in cities like Berlin and Vienna the notion of dance community has gained a strong operational force as the segment of independent artistis has been expanding significantly over the course of the 1990s. New institutional politics came to the fore, employing the notion of community in a different way than happened one decade before ; also, from the point of view of the artists strategies of survival were needed to deal with the new situation. The dance community pictures serves as a just one instrument to look for what is symptomatic and emblematic in these fields.

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