Aesthetic Boredom: Investigating the Experience of Slow Dance in a Society of Haste
Wielen-Honinckx, A.E.T. Van der
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This thesis contributes at theorizing a recent tendency in contemporary dance, coined ‘slow dance’ by Hana Lee Erdman and Louise Dahl, while investigating it in the context of today’s society of haste. Building on social, philosophical and cultural diagnoses by Hartmut Rosa, Byung-Chul Han and Jonathan Crary, I portray today’s time-regime as accelerated, atomized and hyperactive; I identify competition and disenchantment as two driving-wheels of haste; and I put forward alienation, excessive self-centeredness and hyperactive standstill as three main problems it leads to. Drawing on publications by André Lepecki, Bojana Cvejic, Bojana Kunst and Ana Vujanović, I explore how contemporary choreography answers to this context. In a first case study, S l o w D a n c e by Erdman and Dahl, I show how a slow pace invites a shift away from personhood, towards the more detailed realm of ‘molecular thingness’. In a second one, I rely on the concept of ‘atmosphere’, as described by Gernot Böhme, to approach slowness beyond easily identifiable compositional choices, and I describe how a slow atmosphere in The Senders by Stav Yeini facilitates ‘deep perception’, in allusion to Pauline Oliveros’ ‘deep listening’. With Alva Noë, I develop the concept of ‘aesthetic boredom’ as a specific kind of aesthetic experience that one accesses when binding sensorially with a piece of slow dance beyond the boredom, distraction or impatience that its slow atmosphere might trigger. Where boredom makes a general state of alienation sensible, aesthetic boredom potentially enables what Rosa calls “experiences of resonance”. Building on Rosa’s ‘resonance’ and Vujanović’s ‘landscape dramaturgies’, I propose the term ‘atmospheres of resonance’ to indicate the distinctive way in which slow dances organize collective spaces of spectatorship, namely spaces that, by calling attention to a realm that ontologically precedes all kind of individuation, bypass individualistic as well as anthropocentric modes of engaging.