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Dancing the Anthropocene Panel

Thursday, October 24th / 4PM / Dance Building, Studio B

Discussants: Charli Brissey + Stephanie Steinhardt

Participants: Felix Cruz, Mauriah Kraker, Michael J. Morris, Leah Wilks

This panel brings all participants together to address the ways in which our current social-political-ecological climates filters into our work as artists and scholars. Particular attention is given to the function of language as it pertains to infrastructure design, policies, and misleading choreographies of neoliberal power. Given that artists have been grappling with matters of uncertainty, grief, resilience, identity, and subjectivity for centuries, what specific insights might we have to work thoughtfully through various scales of crisis and emergency, in which the outcome of individual action is often unclear, delayed, or indecipherably gradual?

Dancing at the End of the World: Choreographies of Time and Uncertainty


Charli Brissey, University of Michigan


This presentation advocates for choreographic thinking as a significant method of researching the relationship between failing infrastructures and the precarious material future of the world. Through close examination of the meaning and function of the commonly used term "the anthropocene," this research argues for dance practices as invaluable methods for strategizing how to negotiate moments of uncertainty, contradiction, failure, and confusion. Looking choreographically at the ways in which bodies, objects, and information move and get moved within and around the world, this work questions whose labor is designing and building infrastructures and who benefits from what being made where? More importantly, who doesn’t? What does it actually mean to be "Dancing the Anthropocene," versus dancing in it or about it? How do we take and give care inside of ubiquitous capitalist, racist, and ableist technology during the mess of the Anthropocene? This research aims to make visible the often-unseen materiality of technological infrastructures so that we may learn to participate with them, and build or refuse them, more ethically and thoughtfully. 

Recipes for Technoutopia: On Hospitality, Hope and Infrastructure as Experimental Performance


Stephanie Steinhardt, Michigan State University


This talk exposes the productive power of interrogating infrastructure and its breakdown through experimental performance, drawing from a radical interactive brunch held at the 4S 2017 conference. Through a performance of hospitality, as a corollary to the inclusive open charge of modern scientific infrastructures, we find salient embodied, visceral, immediate and unavoidable realities of infrastructure, where even infrastructures built with the most inclusive of aims, can be undone. While consuming a home-cooked meal around a dressed table, guests explored the entanglements of science, the possibility of inclusion, and the violences of overt discrimination and unconscious bias, and attempted to integrate more sensitivity (and possibly hospitality) to a range of bodies, senses, desires, and self-conceptions at the table. Often subtly connecting to longstanding concerns of STS and feminist technoscience, guests of the brunch interrogated the labor, ethics and promises of infrastructure development as inextricably bound to the dynamics of gender, colonialism, autonomy and sovereignty; articulating the ways in which design can be both hospitable and hostile. Deeply rooted in both metaphor and empirical example, performance art becomes a means of investigating the very present and often difficult-to-confront ethical realities that challenge the intersection of inclusion, local circumstance and the hopes of infrastructure for future-building.

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