Events > Reading

If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want to be Part of Your Revolution, a reading group

Jacob Korczynski
Hanne Darboven
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If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution is an itinerant group dedicated to exploring the evolution and typology of performance and performativity in contemporary art. Initiated in 2005 by curators Frederique Bergholtz, Annie Fletcher and Tanja Elstgeest they work from a spirit of open questioning and long term enquiry with artists, through long-term collaborations with artists, researchers and partner organizations, that take form in two-year editions of commissioned productions that develop over time and are presented at different institutions in the Netherlands and abroad. Currently Edition IV is centred upon an investigation of affect and is anchored by commissioned projects by Jeremiah Day, Sung Hwan Kim, Wendelien Van Oldenborgh, Hito Steyerl and Emily Wardill.

If I Can’t Dance defines its way of working as ‘contemplation, interrupted by action’, a quote borrowed from artist Hanne Darboven. Each edition is an ongoing process of research—of ‘contemplation‘—segmented by moments of presentations at the subsequent venues enabling public exchange – opportunities for ‘action’.

One of the primary platforms for contemplation is the reading group organized by If I Can’t Dance in conjunction with each edition. For the first time they have initiated a parallel reading group outside of The Netherlands that will take place in Toronto from September 2011 to February 2012 centred upon the research field of affect, hosted by Art Metropole and led by Jacob Korczynski.

Related publications by Sharon Haynes, Eve Kosofky Sedgwick, Henry James, Michael Hardt, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Brian Massumi and others will soon be available at Art Metropole.

Jacob Korczynski is an independent curator and the recent recipient of a curatorial research fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. He has curated projects for the Stedelijk Museum, Cooper Cole, Western Front, and the Badischer Kunstverein and his writing has been published by art-agenda, Camera Austria, Flash Art, and BOMB. With curatorial projects taking the form of exhibitions, screenings, and publications he is also the editor of I See/La Camera: I (If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution), Andrew James Paterson’s Collection/Correction (Kunstverein Toronto & Mousse Publishing), Jimmy Robert’s Revue (Leopold Hoesch Museum), and Nour Bishouty’s 1-130 (Art Metropole & Motto Books).

Hanne Darboven was born in 1941 in Munich. She studied painting from 1962–66 at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg. In 1966 Darboven moved to New York, where she established herself as a major conceptual artist and was in contact with Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, and Joseph Kosuth, among others. During her initial stay in New York (1966–68), Darboven developed her Konstruktionen, which comprised a neutral language of numbers in linear constructions using pen, pencil, typewriter, and graph paper as materials. For this German conceptualist, numbers not only represented an artificial, universal language but also allowed her to mark the passage of time. For Ein Jahrhundert (A Century) (1971–75), she visualized the hundred-year span through numbers representing each day and year starting with the number 00 and ending in 99. Darboven made some additions to the work in 1982 in honor of the 150th anniversary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1973 Darboven started integrating into her works texts by various authors, among them Heinrich Heine and Jean-Paul Sartre. By 1978 she was also incorporating visual documents, such as photographic images and assorted objects that she found, purchased, or received as gifts. For example, in Bismarckzeit (Bismarck era) (1978), the artist included historical text and suggestive photographs to comment on the problematic episode in German history under Otto von Bismarck. Also in the late 1970s, Darboven, who studied to be a pianist earlier in life, began to devise a system of musical notation based on the calendar and her personal number systems, and, with the aid of a collaborator, adapted them into performable compositions. Throughout the 1980s, during which Darboven oscillated between Hamburg and New York, the artist extended the principles and systems she established in the seventies to major works such as Kulturgeschichte 1880–1983 (Cultural History 1880–1983) (1980–83). In the 1990s Darboven revisited the theme of the century and produced a fin-de-siècle installation that engaged both her signature mode of marking time through the systematic writing of numbers and an investigation of an archetypal individual seen to represent the last one hundred years. These issues lie at the heart of Hommage à Picasso (1995–2006), her installation for Deutsche Guggenheim with date panels including an incredible 9,270 sheets of paper, a lithograph of Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Seated Figure in Turkish, a series of purchased and commissioned sculptures, and a newly produced musical work.

Solo exhibitions of Darboven’s work have been organized by Kunstmuseum Basel (1974 and 1991), Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1975), Kunstverein Hamburg (1983), Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (1986), The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1989–90), Dia Center for the Arts in New York (1996), Hamburger Kunsthalle (1999–2000), and Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (2006). Darboven’s work was also included in major group exhibitions like the Guggenheim International (1971), Documentas 5, 6, 7 and 11 (1972, 1977, 1982, and 2002), São Paulo Bienal (1973), Venice Biennale (1982), Lyon Biennale (1997), and Carnegie International (1999–2000). Darboven died on March 9, 2009 in Hamburg, Germany.