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O MELANCHOLY! : EVALUATION OF CRITICAL ENDEAVOUR

didn't unpack my luggage yet
physically back in ghent, belgium, but my thoughts still stick to vienna
(the sound of tiny sad violins)
in vienna i saw vienna
through the eyes of IMPULSTANZ
from the inside you get the impression that the festival SWALLOWS the city
it felt good to be part of this MOLOCH for a while
a real machine
highly efficient
making things possible
encounters, new perspectives, movements, improvement, disagreement
CRITICAL ENDEAVOUR meant a lot to me
for three intensive weeks i was thrown in a swimming pool of reflection and discussion
sometimes it felt as if i had to learn to swim all over again
many questions
some of them i was familiar with
but never saw them from so many different angles
some of them were completely new to me
a grasp of concrete things -questions, quotes- i took home:

-it's impossible to be a critic and member of a jury at the same time (tiago)

-don't hide yourself behind adjectives (tiago)

-what is the responsibility of the critic? (tiago)

-the responsibility of the critic is to write a good text (pieter)

-good critical writing begins with a good description (pieter)

-postpone all judgement while watching a piece (pieter)

-dance doesn't 'speak out of itself', criticism is a way to make dance 'speak' (pieter)

-the dance disappears, the article remains (hooman)

-there's smart people and stupid people everywhere (hooman)

-there's some people without information (gia)

-you're right, there's people without information, i'm being undemocratic here (hooman)

-oh well, there's also stupid people with a lot of information! (gia)

-a piece is not a closed object: as a viewer and a writer, what is your performativity in the piece? (gérard)

-criticism is not only about 'revealing', but also about 'completing' a work of art (gérard)

-what you like in the piece is connected to what you like in the world (gérard)

all of these GUEST EXPERTS broadened my view on dance and on writing about it
especially pieter t'jonck and gérard mayen who dug deeply into the art of writing
both stressed that a text could never replace a dance piece
but that it could be a work of art in itself, next to the piece
maybe there were too many guests, too much input
but i'm not sure
it's a choice
between a vertical or a horizontal approach:
or you elaborate a few issues very very deeply
or you get a wider range of viewpoints, problems, theories, thoughts
i think this distribution (and questioning) of information, experience, discourse
is a major function of CRITICAL ENDEAVOUR
talking about the guests, i nearly forget to talk about the HOST
and how could i?
franz anton cramer was the perfect mediator
between different groups with sometimes different agendas
between us, the guests, the festival organisation, der standard,...
a real kofi annan
i admired his ability to keep our group together
carefully making sure that every member's voice was heard
also his intelligent switching between distance and proximity was remarkable
all through the tough jury debates
we never had a clue of what franz anton was thinking about the pieces
which was good of course
no really
the only thing i could criticize about franz anton is the color of his shirts
also kordula fritze played a wonderful role during the whole process
solving loads of practical problems – the ticket business! -
and showing sincere interest by attending some of the sessions
now i'll stop praising or you'll think i want something from you
i'm not sure if i consider the combination of critical practice and JURY WORK a disadvantage because it made us think thoroughly about both the differences and the resemblances
but i think the jury work weighs too much on the whole CRITICAL ENDEAVOUR project
first of all we were a jury instead of a group of critics
for me that's the main reason why the blog never really became a productive tool
most of the time we discussed the performances in the [8:tension]+ series but none of what we said or wrote could be made public because we were in the jury

the PUBLIC TALKS went against my personal nature
but the idea i appreciated very much
because it forced us to be sharp as a group
to be able to write an article for DER STANDARD was a wonderful opportunity
but not a necessity
of course CRITICAL ENDEAVOUR gained visibility
and on the second page the paper gave us more freedom
(but we, i mean: franz anton had to play the russian negotiator to get this freedom)
i think in this cooperation the power had to be more equally distributed
not to be too submissive
we not only get, but also give something, no?
the only thing i really really regret
is that there was so little contact between
CRITICAL ENDEAVOUR and DANCEWEB
we went to some of each others talks
but the only real (and very fruitful) conversation
happened after EMPIRE (ART & POLITICS) by superamas
when some of us met some of them in a café
and discussed quite vividly the performance
and political art in general
well
thanks, thanks a lot
i'm going to unpack my luggage now
and get attuned to ghent

sébastien hendrickx

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