Jean-Luc Nancy and Visual Culture just published, with my chapter on Nancy, dance and equality

Just published: Nancy and Visual CultureHere is the abstract for my chapter, entitled “Dancing Equality: Image, Imitation and Participation”.Nancy and visual culture

‘We are facing a very new demand in terms of art’ remarks Nancy in Allitérations, ‘the demand that art be “made by everyone”’. And yet we also know very well that the arts require individuality, singularity and difference. How can art satisfy both of these two demands: that it issue from the collective or the common and that it also satisfy the requirement for isolation and secrecy? The question becomes broader and more pressing with Nancy’s conclusion:  ‘We have here an aspect of our general difficulty with equality and democracy’.

Taking Nancy’s remark as a provocation, this chapter probes how dance in particular, and visual culture more broadly, not only perform or reflect but also develop and advance Nancy’s thinking and writing on equality. Throughout Allitérations, Nancy is careful not to reduce thought to dance or movement to description, nor simply to translate between the two, but to give each its singular and untranslatable sense. Though dance is visual, Nancy repeatedly distances it from the image, which he associates with a mimetic paradigm, in order to develop an understanding of dance as a visual methexis that is neither object nor image.

The performance recorded in Allitérations seeks to work at the limit between movement and text, with exscription and bodily sense sitting at the threshold of thought and dance, but Nancy’s own movements as recorded in Allitérations – both physical and philosophical – not only resist being reduced to signifying thought but also place themselves at the foremost limit of his thinking of equality as it is elaborated in Être singulier pluriel and elsewhere. This, then, is the pattern for our investigation of equality: how can the visual methexis of dance and art more broadly ‘speak’ and ‘think’ about equality without being immediately reduced to thought, and beyond the customary limits of thought? How can thought and dance together elaborate and, in so doing, move beyond the terms of an equality that marries the demand for the ‘by everyone’ with the requirement of secret individuality?


Article on Jean-Luc Nancy and dance now available in Korean

Dancemomm244My article on Jean-Luc Nancy and dance entitled “When I think, I dance”  has been translated into Korean and appears serialised in issues 243 and 244 of Dance Magazine MOMM. Many thanks to Philipa Rothfield and Yewoon at DanceMOMM for their collaboration.

A longer title for the article would be “When I think I dance I don’t dance, but when I think, I dance”.


Dancehouse Diary: When I think, I dance

Dancehouse DiaryLast January I had the great pleasure of chatting with Philipa Rothfield about dance and philosophy, and she invited me to contribute something on Jean-Luc Nancy and dance to Dancehouse Diary, a quarterly publication by Dancehouse, the centre for independent dance in Melbourne. The piece, called ‘When I think, I dance’, deals with some of the themes in the exchange between Nancy and Mathilde Monnier in Allitérations. The latest Dancehouse Diary has just been published online and I really enjoyed reading the other articles and translations in it.