S:PAM Lecture #22 - Bauke Lievens

(13-11-2018) Between being and imaging: towards a methodology for artistic research in contemporary circus.

S:PAM Lecture #22 - Bauke Lievens
Between being and imaging: towards a methodology for artistic research in contemporary circus 

 

When: 28/11/2018 - 18.00 -20.00
Where: Auditorium G, Plateau-Rozier, Jozef Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent
Language: English
Organizer: S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts & Media)
Contactjasper.delbecke@Ugent.be

 

Abstract

In search for what artistic research in circus might be, Bauke Lievens questioned the notion of physical virtuosity in contemporary circus. She explored the critical potential of the virtuoso circus body and of circus as an art form. In her S:PAM lecture Bauke Lievens reflects on her upcoming research project in which she wonders what would happen if we no longer understood virtuosity as a relationship of domination and control over an object (e.g. a trapeze, another body), but rather as a relationship of care. What would happen if we removed man from the centre of the circus ring? And how could we obtain that new constellation?

 

Biography

Bauke Lievens (BE, 1985) studied Theatre Studies at UGent (BE) and Philosophy of Contemporary Art at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (ES). She is a lecturer and researcher with the Drama department of KASK School of Arts (Ghent, BE), where she is currently working on the two-year artistic research project The Circus Dialogues, together with circus artists Quintijn Ketels (BE) and Sebastian Kann (USA/DE). As a freelance dramaturge, Bauke works with various circus, dance and theatre companies such as Cie Un loup pour l’homme (FR) and Floor Van Leeuwen (Schwalbe, NL), among others. Since 2015 she also makes her own work. She created ANECKXANDER (2015) and Raphaël (2017) together with circus artist Alexander Vantournhout (BE). Bauke Lievens published two books on artistic research in circus and is part of the editorial boards of Rekto:Verso and CircusMagazine.

 

Background information research project Between being and imaging: towards a methodology for artistic research in contemporary circus

In the four-year artistic research project Between being and imaging: towards a methodology for artistic research in contemporary circus (2013-2017), Bauke Lievens investigated contemporary European circus creation. She did this from the positions of the dramaturg, the critic, the circus-maker and the spectator. She introduced the topic of circus into conversations and places where it is usually not mentioned or found. Conversely, she experimented with concepts taken from related performing arts in her (circus-)dramaturgical practice.

 

In this research, the notion of physical virtuosity repeatedly comes to the fore. Bearing in mind the cultural-historical context in which circus was born, we can consider traditional virtuosity to be an embodiment of the Modern, humanist ideal of freedom. In terms of this ideal, man (with his virtuosity) is a being who tames and controls his surroundings (and the objects around him). Both the circus performer and Modern man are heroes: they are the rulers and the measure of things. However, on the reverse side of the gleaming medal of virtuosity, the circus body shows itself to be a disciplined machine that is stripped of the possibility of critical individuality. What appears in the practice of ‘doing circus’ is actually an unfree body, one that has smoothly incorporated (neoliberal) norms as efficiency, productivity and capacity. This duality obscures the critical potential of the virtuoso circus body and of the circus as an art form. As such, it is difficult to maintain the idea that circus today still represents freedom. It creates, rather, a space that urges us to question where our freedom andour responsibility to act (agency) are situated today. Our current surroundings sigh, moan and groan under the far-reaching consequences of an anthropocentric ideology, at the centre of which we arrogantly position ourselves. Perhaps the circus, where the relationship to the object is so crucial, is the perfect place to develop other and more sustainable relations with the things, animals, structures and landscapes that surround us. What would happen, for example, if we no longer understood virtuosity as a relationship of domination and control over an object (e.g. a trapeze, another body), but rather as a relationship of care? What would happen if we removed man from the centre of the circus ring? And how could we obtain that new constellation? These questions will be tackled together with fellow researchers and circus performers Quintijn Ketels (BE) and Sebastian Kann (USA/DE) in a second artistic research project entitled The Circus Dialogues (2018-2020). 

 

Both artistic research projects are financed by the Arts Research Fund of University College Ghent (BE) and conducted at KASK School of Arts (Ghent, BE).