Trans-Forma starts from Bogomir Doringer's research on club culture as an initiator of changes, as a form of activism, as an artistic expression where dancing is seen as an urgency in times of socio-political crisis. Collective dances and participation are understood as a transformative mechanism of survival, but also as an individual and collective empowerment.
Restrictive political systems and social hypocrisy are giving birth to new parties, concepts and groups. The new youth is organising itself from the dance floor, in demand for recognition and free spaces in which the curatorial agenda addresses political urgencies. Vulnerable bodies through the state of trance experiences transform oneself or groups, further reshaping urban spaces and structures. Urban planning and changes in cities started in increasingly involving club culture and contemporary rituals of dancing and gathering as a way of changing spaces, reanimating dead city zones. The economic value of such gatherings is being recognised and negotiated.
Symposium Guest speakers:
Speaker: Dimitri Hegemann (Tresor-Kraftwerk, Berlin)
Cities develop and change over time and each new generation makes their mark in the physical space, architectural appearance and cultural life. These transformations create new possibilities for experimental culture and innovativeness, something that cities strive to embrace in order to attract “the right” kind of people, businesses and attention. Culture is becoming a vital part of strategic planning and development as well as a tool to achieve more just and diverse cities. But within this “cultural planning”, is there room for alternative and counter cultures to evolve and experiment? What part does alternative culture play in comparison with public art and culture institutions? Dimitri Hegemann is a space pioneer, cultural activist and community organizer foremost known for founding the famous Berlin techno club Tresor.
We Dance Together
Speakers: Naja Orashvili (Bassiani), Giorgi Kikonishvili (Bassiani)
In May 2018, several thousands of ravers gathered in the heart of Tbilisi/Georgia to protest the police raid on two of the city’s most popular clubs: “Gallery” and famous “Bassiani”. The protest consisted of dancing for two days in front of the Parliament. It was led by the White Noise Movement and it quickly gained the support of communities worldwide. We Dance Together, We Fight Together became the slogan of this rave-o-lution. One week later anti-fascist protest took place on the streets of Berlin, it has been organized by clubs and party collectives and organizers.
Gender, Ecstasy & the Revolution
Speaker: Chiara Baldini (BOOM Festival)
We are connecting altered states with the ancient rites of Dionysus and Cybele and ideas of safe spaces, dancing and ritual playgrounds, socio-political urgencies and the rise and fall of such concepts in changeable political climates. More than two thousand years ago, a series of cults were spreading across Greece and the whole ancient world, mingling prehistoric ecstatic practices with the newly born philosophical discourse. These cults, known as the Mystery Religions, brought a much-needed wave of fresh air to those who could not find any real spiritual meaning in the Olympian religion. They also triggered a new religious and cultural movement able to join people from different origins beyond the ancient tribal sense of belonging, reconnect them with the ecstatic dimension of spirituality while providing the continuation of the prehistoric cult of Mother Nature.
Loophole: Trance State Feelings
Speaker: Anna Vasof (University of Applied Arts)
Loops are structures, the end of which is connected to the beginning. In music, a loop is a repeating section of sound material. Short sections of material can be repeated to create patterns that are able to produce trance state feelings. Looping patterns can also be observed in moving image illusions. In cinema, the first known cinematic loop is over 5,000 years old. Only recently loops became popular again through the social media video engines where users share short looping videos and animated gifs. Facebook, Instagram videos and animated gifs have usually small data size, are only a few seconds long, display very short stories and have the ability to start over automatically. These characteristics make looping videos ideal for the social media space where users are impatient to follow long narratives. From one side, they can attract an impatient audience but from another side, they can also cure their impatience.
Impermanence and Transiency: The State of Being Ephemeral
Speaker: Francois Baudson (BOOM Festival)
What kind of knowledge can be extracted out of the ephemeral urbanism of music festivals? How and why do we build ephemeral structures? Francois Baudson has experience from building healing-areas to the dance temples of the Boom Festival since 2002. The most visited public temples on planet Earth are related to time and spiritual traditions coming from ancient cultures. It shows that human beings relate to spiritual traditions with the sense of ancient, outside themselves! By channelling the manifestation of ephemeral structures, visitors of such constructions are invited to experience spirituality.
The rise of crowds seems to fluctuate as a reflection on the actual political climate. We value the freedom we have and aim for individualism, yet we are also fascinated and drawn to crowds in time of insecurities and fear.
This exhibition took the ongoing research project “I Dance Alone” by Serbian/Dutch artistic research PhD student Bogomir Doringer (University of Applied Arts Vienna) as a starting point. In 2014 he started filming various clubs from a bird’s-eye view, aiming to document variations of collective and individual choreographies worldwide. His project insists on two different forms of dancing: that of urgency and that of entertainment. Functions of dance can be social, ceremonial, erotic, liturgical, competitive, martial – and as Doringer adds: political.
For instance, in countries where the social system has failed and cultural institutions are absent, clubs act as a gathering hub where a “collective body can be formed, moving, educating, and at times manipulating young people. Dance floors trigger social interactions – potentially political or as forms of activism or even spiritualism – that could be applied in the outside world. Among many questions Doringer’s project is also asking if clubs might be understood as spaces for practising the power of collectivism: Are they some kind of formalin in which the collective body is preserved until emergencies arise?”
Trans-Forma started from research on club culture as an initiator of changes, as a form of activism, as an artistic expression where dancing is seen as an urgency in times of socio-political crisis. Some of these practices recall not that far away history or ancient rituals: In 2019 also the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair is celebrated, which took place from August 15 to 17, 1969 in the Catskill Mountains of Southern New York State and is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation.
Both the Trans-Forma exhibition and symposium resulted in the exhibition “Dance of Urgency”, which is a follow-up, taking place between April and September 2019 at FREI_RAUM Q21 in MuseumsQuartier Wien. A companion publication is currently under production as a joint project of MuseumsQuartier and Social Design.
- November - December 2018
- A project by Social Design in collaboration with Site-Specific Art (Ortsbezogene Kunst) The exhibition
- symposium and Focus Week Trans-Forma was curated by Bogomir Doringer
- visiting artist at the Social Design Studio Artists: Jan Beddegenoodts
- Jung An Tagen
- Ed van der Elsken
- Electric Indigo
- Rosa Menkman and Shoresh Kalantari
- David Moises
- Dino Pešut
- Luiz Roque
- Nadim Vardag
- Anna Vasof
- Ari Versluis
- Herwig Weiser Exhibition design: Michael Wallraff