Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pina Bausch's Emancipated Spectator

By the way I gave a paper at the Irish Society for Theatre Research's annual conference the weekend before last, in Trinity. It was good to update my work on Pina Bausch (RIP) ,and in particular my 2002 book, published by Peter Lang, "Orientalism, Orientation, and the Nomadic Work of Pina Bausch". I'd love to present it again, with visuals, and extracts from the scripts this time (Didn't have enough time for all that in the 20 minutes allocated). Here's the abstract of the paper:

Who's Afraid of Pina Bausch?
Pina Bausch's Emancipated Spectator and ensuing Documentation Challenges.


In this paper I will explore whether the dynamic Pina Bausch set up with the spectator may have anticipated Jacques Ranciere’s notion of “The Emancipated Spectator”, and what motivated Pina Bausch to abandon the “nation-narration” in her original, script-free theatrical idiom. Using my own original scripts of Bausch’s “City pieces”, “Viktor” (1986); “Palermo Palermo” (1989); “Tanzabend 2, 1991”, and “Ein Trauerspiel” (1994), published in my PhD thesis “Orientalism, Orientation, and the Nomadic Work of Pina Bausch” (Frankfurt: Peter Lang GmbH, 2002), I propose to investigate the unique dynamic Bausch set up with her spectator. Using my original scripts, I will consider the new artistic form Bausch invented in historical context, and ask whether her new idiom was born in direct reaction to the psychology of fascism. Did Bausch’s new theatrical idiom relate to what philosopher Eric Fromm describes in The Fear of Freedom, as Fascism’s annihilation of the individual self and its utter submission to a higher power?

Might Bausch have set out to dismantle what psychologist Karl Gustav Jung described as “the herd instinct” through her new idiom? “It is only single persons…” she asserted. “There is no such thing as communal response. Each person in the public is part of a piece, and has their own relationship to it”. Bausch, whose oeuvre provided her audience with space for self-exploration, and the opportunity to initiate awareness of many ways of seeing, compared experiencing her work to the sensation of being the first to open the door on a fresh snowfall: “You feel it. It cannot be shared. And this is very important”.