Fungal Knowledge

STRATEGIES OF SOLIDARITY – WHAT I’VE FIGURED OUT SO FAR (Re: Fungal Knowledge)

Strategies of Solidarity–what I’ve figured out so far is a series in which I share my (practical) strategies of inclusion in the professional dance context. These strategies are some of my most cherished tools of destruction, with which I destroy colonialist (capitalist, racist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, sexist, etc.) habitus, in order to then imagine and build different models. Alongside these strategies, I share my reflections as to where institutional as well as my own internalized systems of oppression are situated. The context I am referring to is the Central European independent dance and performance scene. Even if this isn’t what you are involved with, or where you are located, I hope that reading this series can support you in your own process.

Reflection

Perhaps the transfer of knowledge between two people can be understood and mapped like a mycelium: Two bundled nodes of knowledge start as hyphae, and once a conversation begins, it quickly and continuously branches into an exponential entangling, linking, disconnecting, bridging of thoughts, desires, interests, and memories.

What is the cascade of network linkages that form as a result of witnessing dance performance, and what is the transfer of knowledge that takes place there? Or, simply put, what do we learn from dance?

When I ask myself “What do we learn from dance?” I immediately wonder what practices in mainstream culture affirm the body as necessary, and not just a transport bag for the brain? I think of my common experience of doctors dismissing me when I articulate my knowledge about what is going on in my body. Body-based therapies, which are not covered by insurance, come to mind. I think of how 7% of our communication is verbal, and 55% is body language. I think of moments when I trip, and suddenly one foot darts forward and stops me from falling, seconds before I would have face-planted on the floor. I think of the body, and how it communicates: through pain, pleasure, goosebumps, discoloration, and much more. I think of black, gendered bodies as sellable cultural symbols of danger, sex, charity, being hip, and more.

Rather than considering the aforementioned question about the transfer of knowledge through dance, I invited 5 people, each of whom have witnessed at least one of my works, to come together, and have a conversation. This question, “What do we learn from dance?” was a starting point for my conversations with:

Elissa Ricci – cultural producer, activist, parent, dramaturg, and currently a PhD candidate at the Free University in Berlin;

Denise Van De Cruze – activist, parent, and owner of Villa Vida, a queer community cafe in Vienna;

Mariama Diagne – dance scholar, parent, and professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna in the field of Gender Studies;

Melody Howse – researcher, PhD candidate in Anthropology at Leipzig University, and parent; and

Paula Chaves Bonilla – community organizer, artist, and activist.

Branching Knowledges

The conversations with the 5 invited guests took place on Zoom and were transformed into a video artwork by Elliot Blue—of whom I am now a fan girl. Each video has audio descriptions in English, subtitles in English and German, as well as German Sign Language Translation. Together with Elliot, we experimented with inclusive aesthetics, conceiving the German Sign language translator as part of the visual whole instead of off to the side, from the very beginning, developing a visual, artistic concept from there.





This project was made possible through the #takepart program of the Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

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