MUSING: But-ism and Writing about Dance
My last post argued that everyone, regardless of knowledge or interest, deserves a place on the dance floor. While this is great and all, save for the occasionally appreciable and approachable genres, dance is hard: to do, to watch, and to discuss.
Sometimes, dance practitioners make entering their world harder than it needs to be. Dance writing, in particular, can be confusing or even hostile to the very discipline it purports to cover. Big words, insider vocabulary, gossipy undertones: sometimes, I — a dancer and a dance writer — can’t get through it, much less be enriched by it.
I myself try to avoid most of these qualities in my writing. I have used the abstruse words like liminal (a favorite of academics) from time to time (my dance-writing mentor, Deborah Jowitt, provides the supporting quote on Merriam Webster). I also am guilty of employing what I’ve dubbed but-ism (The piece is this, BUT it is also that). Yet I try to make my writing vivid AND intelligible.
As the fall season swings into high gear, I take this moment to assert what my dance writing will not be: It will not create barriers between an in-group and an out-group.
In a tongue-in-cheek celebration of all that I dislike in arts writing, I present my artist statement as generated by 500 Letters. I have no idea what most of this means, but I do like the idea that my works radiate “a cold and latent violence.” You can get your pretentious and impenetrable artist statement here.
Erin Bomboy (Richmond, Virginia, United States) creates performances and media art. By emphasising aesthetics, Bomboy makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.
Her performances are presented with the aim not to provide an idealistic view but to identify where light and the environment are important. The energy of a place and its emotional and spiritual vibrations are always important. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, she wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.
Her works sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, she tries to focus on the activity of presenting. The character, shape or content of the presented artwork is secondary. The essential things are the momentary and the intention of presenting.
Her works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in performance. By replaying the work for each exhibition and pushing the evocative power of the work a little further, she seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.
Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. Erin Bomboy currently lives and works in New York City.