Performance , Discourse

COLLAPSE: ‘Every Body is Exhausted’

Understanding Practice – Dominique Savitri Bonarjee with Jack Halberstam

Dominique Savitri Bonarjee centers the body as primary material and research interface. Dominique seeks to untether forms from (human) cultural perceptions and experience matter’s nameless state through dance, physical, and vocal experiments. Performed in public space, in different locations worldwide over the last few years, Dominique’s Collapse is a ritual of resistance and surrender, a dance for listening to gravity, time, the weather, the climate, and the movements of an expanded field of aliveness.

For Understanding Practice, Dominique’s Collapse will be enriched by Jack Halberstam’s response, which is to research collapsing as an opportunity to imagine and create new ways of living and relating to one another.

Understanding Practice is an event series hosted by the Support Art& Research and the Artistic Research PhD Programme (PhD in Art) from the University of Applied Arts Vienna. With our renowned guests, we explore their respective practices and experiences, questioning the possibilities of understanding and practising art and research together. In a staged performance or lecture and a conversational workshop and exchange format, we will dive into different art and research perspectives. This approach allows for an encounterwith the invited guests' work and a joint reflection on their practice and itsspecific challenges and implications.

Dominique Savitri Bonarjee is an artist, a dancer, a seeker. Her research focuses on embodied knowing within the movement and dance practices of ancient wisdom traditions. In her art practice she innovates unrestrictedly across media and disciplines combining sound, dance, sculpture, electronics, textiles to imagine living artforms through which to contemplate energy, transformation, transduction, and impermanence. Her Art PhD (Goldsmiths University) is entitled Space of the Nameless and proposes a methodology for ‘detaching the I’ to enable polydisciplinary experimentation in the expanded field of dance. She is a qualified Tai Chi Chuan instructor, a Sufi dervish, and a student of Hindustani Classical Music. Her monograph, Butoh, as Heard by a Dancer (Routledge,2024) is an oral account of Butoh’s postwar Japanese origins and legacies, told from a practitioner’s perspective. In a similar vein to Marcel Duchamp’s introduction of the ‚readymade‘ into art, in her art, she aspires to stage the human body as a radical vessel of flux—a fountain.

Jack Halberstam is the David Feinson Professor of The Humanities at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of seven books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011), Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and, a short book titled Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variance (University of California Press). Halberstam’s latest book, 2020 from Duke UP is titled Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire. Places Journal awarded Halberstam its Arcus/Places Prize in 2018 for innovative public scholarship on the relationship between gender, sexuality and the built environment. Halberstam is now finishing a second volume on wildness titled: Unworlding: An Aesthetics of Collapse. Halberstam was recently the subject of a short film titled “So We Moved” by Adam Pendleton. Halberstam was recently named a 2024 Guggenheim Fellow.

Jack Halberstam’s contribution is made possible with the kind support of the Department of Art History and Department of Art Theory of the University of Applied Arts, and the Department of Gender Studies (IKM), mdw, University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna.

Dominique Savitri Bonarjee
Understanding Practice – Dominique Savitri Bonarjee with Jack Halberstam © Dominique Savitri Bonarjee
17 May 2024, 4 pm

University of Applied Arts Vienna,
Vordere Zollamtsstr. 7,
1030 Vienna