What's your favorite approach in sociology

Culture women

"If I Were A Dancer And I Had A Square", Kulturfrauenballett, part 2, a project by Tanja Brandmayr in cooperation with Kunstraum Goethestrasse xtd., 2016. Photos, videos,Dance practice, research and performative staging.
This text was created during the various project phases and, above all, in the subsequent reflection. It refers to the term quasi-art, particularly in its expanded understanding of materials and collective.

If I Were A Dancer And I Had A Square

8 mental movements about the cultural women's ballet, part 2. By Tanja Brandmayr.

1 What is the Kulturfrauenballet?

The Kulturfrauenballett is made up of women who work in different fields of art and culture - just not in dance. We have gathered many fields of activity, for example performer, cultural journalist, artist, district worker, curator. So there are no conventional actors in ballet other than myself. In the first part, which was presented in 2013, the title and topic were even: "If I Were A Dancer, Then ...". At that time, through the creation of an individual image as a dancer and then through the common dance practice, this subjunctive itself was placed at the center of the discussion. The “If I Were” was, if you will, a great playful and unknown form of possibility. This playful and unknown form of possibility was on the one hand itself a topic, on the other hand, exemplary specific questions opened up in this context: Which contemporary dance forms do I tend to? What pose would I take? What is it like when people actually dance according to the draft of this ideal, when I have to face the reality of the dance, the body and the action, so to speak - together with the others who are also confronted with something new?

That is perhaps even the larger setting of the cultural women's ballet: the dance floor as an exemplary “other”, as a possibility and transformation. The ballet body consists of professional actors in the field of art and culture, but not dancers. Therefore, a major concern is certainly the transformation itself in order to come to something else. The assertion is that the existing professional experts are transferred differently, not with direct expertise on something, but as strategically open; which is exemplarily carried over to the dance and at the same time to the larger common whole. Because it is also about this common whole of “ballet”, it also integrates the concept of cooperation. Rather, it addresses an interaction that is not defined in more detail per se. Because togetherjob rather puts the concrete plan and the concrete result at the center of action. This togetherAct does not build on direct implementation in the process, but on indefinite transformation and the open itself.

This is not an easy undertaking that works with contradictions. The biggest thing is that we are not dancers at the same time and that we still claim that: as a women's cultural ballet, which at least chooses the subjunctive in its titles. This is also shown by the title of this second part of the women's cultural ballet "If I Were A Dancer And I Had A Square". We are not "square" here, but we have, so to speak, appropriated a few squares. First we take space - as a floor and basis for the dance and its choreographic "writing in the room", which is what choreography means. But, and now the further contrast: After this first part mentioned above, which was more about the possibility of the dancer himself, the second part is also about this square area and the common space: the movement in the exemplary open square has the aspect of collectivity - because it is impossible to carry out a common choreography in a square without at the same time being extremely attentive to yourself and the others. We worked here without music, besides seeing we also took breath as a further quality of attention. The square stands here, so to speak, for a field of the individual as well as the collective. This theme of the common and the individual was brought to light in the dance practice itself in order to transform it back and forth between speaking and movement. Finally, several variants of relatively reduced movement patterns have emerged, which have been contextualized with special locations. The spatial allocation of these square areas later led to expanded public spaces and nature.

Schneefeld, exhibition detail, photo: Reinhard Winkler

2 The concept of professionalism.

This term is relevant because the cultural women's ballet does not consist of professional dancers and deliberately works with a shift in terms of “professionalism”. “Professional” is at least sometimes an unwound recipe for the production of certain surfaces. This must be scrutinized critically, especially in art, because unreflected production according to scheme X does not want an artistically designed process as such. On the other hand, however, many people active in the cultural field feel strong regulations, disciplines or “practical constraints”, also and in spite of their professionalism. This open-ended transformation of the concept of profession is therefore very central. The Kulturfrauenballett says yes to “professionalism”, but also no at the same time. So much for a construction of framework conditions that poses other questions; or to a different setting, which in a certain way is supposed to bring out different material from under the surfaces. Without introducing this material into specific statements. In principle, this ballet is first a completely empty area in order to collect very different things, diverse material, and then to thematize the will and the intention in an accumulation of methodical approaches: Because at its very core, the cultural women's ballet is thematized. With its "immaterial Material ”that every single one brings with them as a matter of course as a knowledge and experience environment. Our material is therefore also the knowledge and experience of individuals and groups. Questions develop from this. Or these questions were already there and worked out parallel to the movement, so to speak. In this second part we have often talked about this relationship between the individual and the collective and tried out where and how communication about it happens. What do we as a group and individuals want within these methodical tools and keywords - where are our free spaces, where is our personal square in which we can move? Where is our dance floor? The dance floor and the square were meant directly, but also in a figurative sense.

Each of us also consists, so to speak, of an accumulation of an infinitely large number of images, references, influences, people, things, objects, thoughts, etc. At the beginning, for example, I consider myself as a collective tries to understand: Of the people and things that are important to me; these, let's say ten important things and contexts that mean something specific to me. In considering myself first of all as my own collective, I made my own inner collective with books in a practical implementation. That would of course also work with other things, with people, the picture of an animal, an object of art, with food or a potted plant, with anything in general and with more than ten things. But, in general: Imagine that you first see yourself as an inner collective. And with this own inner collective you then come into contact with other people who also expand their own inner collective around them. With this idea it becomes as complicated as it is interesting to be able to see yourself as part of a collective with other people in the first place and maybe at some point. At one point of my personal reflections on ballet and its basically completely open definition, it was actually a central point to proceed with exactly this approach, so to speak, which also affects the question of material. Not only to see myself and the participating people as dancers "material", but to understand each participant first as her own inner collective, so to speak, and to understand this immaterial as material. An approach that is just good enough for women from the contemporary cultural field. And some older and more recent references from art, philosophy, sociology and cultural theory could certainly be found for this assertion. In any case, the assertion for the extended question of material: Many things first live inside a single person. And these things also come into contact with one another. For example, in me, as in most of the others, in addition to the many things, objects, people, thought structures, emotional contexts I have mentioned, there are also different professional contexts that are drifting apart. That is the case with many people, with almost all protagonists of independent cultural creation: many professional and also private fields of work and activity have to be agreed. That is why it was perhaps not difficult for the participating cultural women to add one more thing: Well, we are now also dancers. We'll see. It is also an attempt, as I said above, to work together and not to work together. That makes the whole thing more open and carefree.

To be seen as photos and video during the presentation. Photo: Reinhard Winkler

3 The concrete method and implementation.

In dance practice, common fields were specifically and clearly defined - in the form of several marked squares on the floor. Within these two-meter-long squares, we then worked out movement and a choreography and sounded out common impulses that examined the common momentum on a non-linguistic level. This resulted in a highly concentrated work, each with one to four people in a square, so to speak as work "with me and the others", which was carried out in several variants in the field of dance practice - in an incredibly beautiful variability and with such a fascinating mixture of lightness and seriousness that it is a real shame that there is no record of it from this whole dance practice part. Which in turn was an agreement - in order not to produce certain things from the outset. In any case, the topic of the square has provided further topics of conversation within our dance practice. In this respect, the cultural women's ballet in the staged implementation some time later opened various individual squares in expanded public spaces and subjected the claims regarding the individual and collective, choreographic planning and personal interpretation to a review, a review that remained without concrete result. In any case, this part of a staged implementation or a selected setting was documented on film and photography - and just flowed into a presentation.

Walking the square in the sea, photos / video. Photo: Reinhard Winkler

4 approaches with regard to an indefinite dance aesthetic or tradition.

Movement is important first, which is not otherwise the focus of the activity. This cautious formulation is intended to express that we have no illusions about our dancers, but want to allow ourselves to create at least pleasurable friction surfaces with contemporary-technical basic vocabulary and other specifications from the reference field of dance. However, this preoccupation with movement is transformed differently than it has to be beautiful and right. What now relates purely to the execution of movement, a certain insight from a movement access, a method of a low-defined movement-economical effort, fits in with this. This is, so to speak, one of my personal favorite approaches to movement, in my opinion highly topical: the tired movement economy. Create an impulse for results with as little effort as possible. This is extremely interesting in hyperactive times: the tiredness and the idea of ​​doing things when tired. And with it the investigation of where the necessary impulse, the impulses come from - that becomes much clearer in a shutdown economy of movement. And then you can build on that. And it allows non-linguistic communication about these impulses. Incidentally, this examination makes dancing non-professionals highly concentrated and very convincing. In general, the spectrum of movement in contemporary dance moves, but since it is more on the loose border between the everyday and the artificial, how much can you integrate that it is no longer everyday movement, but also not really dance. You can tell it's more than everyday life. But before it can be classified as a dance, for example, the ballet body then quickly says: “No, I'm not dance” and just turns the curve into something else. The question would then logically be: But to which other? This other, which is kept open, is then perhaps exactly the void that needs to be kept open. In general, the interest here is a freer one, hence perhaps the paradoxical recourse to the concept of ballet. Because to take the concept of ballet seriously with a bunch of non-masters of ballet, including myself, would be downright absurd. Instead: working with as reduced a dance as possible, and still having a highly serious personal review. Perhaps one could say that these are all vanishing points of a well-designed, drifting construction: I and the art form, I and the art branches, I and the others. Me and the tiredness. Me and etcetc.

Breath choreographic elements in an environment with sewing machines. Photos / video. Photo: Reinhard Winkler

5 Other discourse and art contexts.

The concept of collective as such was often discussed in the various group constellations. I think there is no consensus on this. But we as a group have dealt with collective aspects in thought and practice. One can say that we have transformed reflections on collectivity into motion. We certainly don't see ourselves as a collective in the true sense of the word. And we don't have to: because we're a ballet. Which in turn we are not either.

The concept of performance is perhaps also helpful, as an experimental, process-like, fragmentary and physical act of the subjects. As far as I know, the performance is also characterized as a definitional transformation of the “metaphysical” into the physical: screaming, acting, naked bodies, etc, ... versus the metaphysical ideas before. The images and clichés are well-known: "The other" can be physically experienced here through direct action and effect, so to speak, and of course this was often initially perceived by the respective contemporaries with astonishment. The cultural women's ballet works differently here, but it definitely has a core interest in the process and of course also in the physical. On the other hand, it is almost touchingly ignorant and incidentally classic compared to the above-mentioned performance definition of the acted-out physical. The other and the strange reappear, I think, precisely with the open question of what this ballet actually is - and perhaps because of this gesture of bringing in an undefined immaterial. This does not happen as a proclaimed turn to a “new artistic form” or a spectacular rejection of an “outdated form”, but as a well-constructed, enigmatic unspectacular paradox in a contrasting setting: as a pure abstraction of the empty space, which is nonetheless a dance floor, as an abstraction of one Reintegration, a metaphor about an empty space of ability. Because the inability to be a professional dancer has to be compensated for by trial and error and other professional knowledge. Such a gesture of reintegration of a stranger, of an "other", is a personal strategy or approach that inevitably has to be made if something like a ballet is to be done, but the ballet itself is a void and does not seek the professionalism of the respective branch because it simply doesn't exist. Seen in this way, the underlying materiality of each individual can be brought into the meeting as hope, so to speak. Each individual brings things with them that we do not know exactly how they flow into. A very abstract setting on the one hand. On the other hand, it has brought us many astonished, practical and also funny experiences - in dance practice lessons, which, if that sounds like that, have less agitated the inside of us, or even somehow meant theoretical effort, than they have a big, amused question mark at the Always kept dancing above their heads and bodies. Apart from this curious desire to move, we got along very well in the specific movement aspect of fatigue mentioned earlier.And of course there were numerous other aspects. The pleasure also came from a long exhalation before inhaling again.

Square Objects. Photos / video. Photo: Tanja Brandmayr, collage: Beate Rathmayr

6 references from art.

In general, it is difficult to give references. It's more about well-designed and widely divergent opposites. There is always a simultaneous saying yes and no in this ballet. Nothing at all was implemented directly in the conventional sense. From the outset, we didn't want to make any classical implementations of anything, for example a performative dance piece, nor any visualization of ourselves as individual individuals. Instead, all of these are and were, so to speak, only permanent approaches. Also of circumstances in which we live and which we know only too well. This visualization of us as women of culture and art, for example ... there was first a loose reference to the American artist Carolee Schneemann, who noticed that, in contrast to the great male artist stars, she was her female colleagues in the 1960s knew, but never knew what they actually did as artists. Carolee Schneemann noticed this a few years ago in an interview, she spoke about a colleague, in a sense: “I knew her. But I Never Knew, What She Did As An Artist ". There's something bitter about that. At the beginning of the cultural women's ballet, it was often discussed in a certain phase. I varied the saying. To a paraphrase that, on the one hand, took up this need for discussion and recognition, but on the other hand soon went on to say: "I never knew, what she did as a dancer". That was a completely free association, because the cultural women's ballet probably has very little to do with Carolee Schneemann. But the paraphrase was important because it brought us a topic as a group that added one more thing to this paradoxical setting: in so far as in our setting of non-dancers it would first have to be in relation to itself: "I never knew what I did as a dancer". And to be honest, maybe even: I don't even know what I'm doing. Not even just as a dancer. Perhaps the examination of this topic has taken up other emancipatory moments, at least that is the claim and the hypothesis: that things are transforming. Perhaps in the above sense of dealing with large internal accumulations. When people meet, there is often so much inner “material” that you no longer know how to talk to each other. Where do you even begin. You then often talk about placeholder topics in art, about cultural politics or about your own revision. Naturally, essential questions arise within these contexts. On the other hand, paradoxically, we started somewhere else, where nobody is allowed to feel safe and professional at first: with our empty space on the dance floor. There, too, people talk about cultural policy and their own revision, among other things. But also about other things and references that simply came to mind, so to speak, during exercise. Overall, however, it was not about self-expression or self-realization. That is why, I believe, an actual visualization of female artists or the existence of cultural women as an individual topic was not pursued. I think that in the end, as a specific topic that was worked out, nobody was interested in that. Rather, it was perhaps more about a common motivation, again in both senses of the word. It can be found inside, of course, but also materially it was opened symbolically, so to speak: square in different places. And there was a new movement, in the literal physical sense, even if we only got to know it together. In general, this whole dancer thing brought in the already mentioned paradoxical moment: Of course we never knew what we had done as dancers if we were never any. Of course, the transformation of the levels, the discussions came into play, many transformations, even this complete symbolism of "dancing" as a life metaphor could not be completely avoided - but that can be okay in moments, why not. And by the way, referring to the square again: Other artistic reference points also came into play when we were dealing with this square ... Bruce Nauman or Samuel Beckett. But this is another story. And Malevich, that would be something too.

Performance, photos, video. Photo: Reinhard Winkler, collage Beate Rathmayr

7 Saying yes and no at the same time.

As already mentioned, a point of reference for me was the wild exploration of terms such as collectives or quasi-objects. In principle, I like the fact that within a project one creates contradictions that drift far apart. Which may no longer be able to be lead into a synthesis. Perhaps this is even about a different dialectic. Because we have different material. It struck me how full of thought this ballet is - how this simple, square, dance-like act, even in the extended public space, is overwhelmed with reflections. On the other hand, this accumulation is a reality in every relationship. This own and individual position of the many things and connections, the references and all the physical, emotional and cognitive points of reference and experiences that we bring with us, and which in turn are embedded in larger systems. Also the level of wishes and ideas. In the sense of "If I Were A Dancer" mentioned above and then in extension: I am first my own collective context, we meet in complexity, also in the sense of a personal collection of material that we have with us from home. And we do something together. The exact circumstances and assertions do not have to be answered in their correctness for the time being ... that can remain as an assertion and also as a contradiction ... as a non-rational underground or unprocessed layering of rationality, irrationality, internal or external things or whatever always - there are different material structures or connections. You could also say that we even say yes and no to art at the same time, between all these systems and terms, and after all we are not dancers either, and now we are some. In any case, we formed a new common ground together, which the individuals should not swallow, but should give them space. One could also say that here, in this cultural women's ballet, we are also dealing with a collective to reinforce the individual. At least that's what happened once. But you can probably say yes and no to that too. And it is certainly not a shared experience. Then, defined in such an openness, is it still art at all? All of this, this complexity of contradictions that actually exist, can perhaps only be grasped with a simultaneous “yes” and “no”. And that results in a special relationship: So you could also say that what is being done is art and at the same time not art. As it is a ballet and it is not. And just as I could understand myself, as the only professional, so to speak, as a choreographer, and because of the many other things I do, again not. In any case, it is also about realities and, within a clearly opened set of professional terminology, about a desire for an art that is supposed to open up space.

If I Were A Dancer And I Had A Square. Photo: Tanja Brandmayr

8 A dance project. A quasi-ballet.

Ballet is a term for strategic openness, an empty space, empty space. An ironic return to history, of course. An outdated term often allows more openness precisely because of its ridiculous context. In any case, the prefix “quasi” in this context of the quasiballet creates a lot of fruitful blurring. The quasi-dance project, if you want to call it that, doesn't want to be anything specific in a world that is definitely no longer there. Unless it is brutally simplified, which unfortunately is also done. It makes the mismatch a fundamental principle.

There is a conflicting relationship with theoretical reference points. Despite the knowledge about it, and even more about the knowledge of a theoretical poaching, it is still about a serious examination of things that are relevant. Things that for us have the potential for freedom, emancipation, theory and also personal experience. And here in particular there is a special approach in the assertion “I am my own collective” - not because it is about ego and self-expression, but on the contrary, that people encounter each other with all levels of experience and knowledge. That there is possibly another type of communication going on here, that in addition to the usual talk, the intellectual, essential and tangible assemblies communicate with one another and work together in an essential way. The good thing is: In addition to all this thinking about, there was a really tangible practical part, that is, the dance; and an independently transforming implementation level of the recorded squares - as a well-designed countermovement to these claims and to all sorts of things. The good thing is that you sometimes deal intensively with something, and then it practically brings different results than expected, which in turn can then be checked and fed in differently - that is a theoretical hypothesis in the good sense. And also an exciting project that has transformed itself and repeatedly.


Text by Tanja Brandmayr, written between autumn 2015 and summer 2016.

Kulturfrauenballett, Part 2 - A project by Tanja Brandmayr and Kunstraum Goethestrasse xtd.

Photographic and film support: Reinhard Winkler and Julian Pöschl / dorfTV
Photo collages: Beate Rathmayr

All participants of the cultural women's ballet, part 2, dance practice and square staging: Suna Arslan, Renate Billlensteiner, Susanne Blaimschein, Katharina Brandl, Claudia Czimek, Claudia Dworschak, Sabine Funk, Wiltrud Hackl, Sonja Meller, Beate Rathmayr, Heidemarie Sauer, Getraud Sobotka Betty Wimmer.


Before - Part I of the Kulturfrauenballett:

Cultural Women's Ballet, Part I "If I Were A Dancer, Then ...", Kunstraum Goethestrasse xtd. Dance practice, research, Photos, video, installation,2013.

Part I of the Kulturfrauenballett, text: http://brandjung.servus.at/content/kulturfrauenballett-teil-1


Short version of the exhibition video (exhibition video not online):

Camera: Claudia Dworschak, Beate Rathmayr
Video editing: Claudia Dworschak (with Tanja Brandmayr)

More about quasi art on this intro page and in the context of the Stadtwerkstatt.