MOVES THAT MOVE US
OCTOBER 12, 2013 TO JULY 20, 2014
AN EXHIBITION BY THE DEUTSCHES HYGIENE-MUSEUM
For the first time, a major special exhibition examines both the aesthetic aspects and the social and cultural facets of dance and dancing. The Deutsches Hygiene-Museum’s project looks at dance both as an art in its own right and as a part of everyday culture - yet the exhibition’s primary focus is on the intermediate spaces in which both these aspects of dance meet and influence one another.
The exhibition draws on the traces dance leaves in the individual’s somatic memory and in the collective memory of whole cultures. This tangible and intangible heritage is recorded and passed on not only through the sophisticated notation systems of dancers and choreographers, but also through fascinating artefacts and “relics”. The project also emphasizes the fundamental dimension of intoxication, ritual and ecstasy that has always been found in dance as a religious practice, and that continues to play an essential part in modern dance phenomena such as rave and techno.
Dance comments on and subverts social conventions and norms concerning the body. Viennese waltzes, rock ’n’ roll, punk - new forms of movement and rhythm always set the status quo in motion, and stir up relations between the sexes and the generations. In the ensuing processes of marginalization, rebellion and commercialization, people develop personal, social and cultural identities. In the same way, dance in the 19th century in particular was felt to have an important function in the formation of national identities. The political instrumentalisation of dance involved mythifications, ideological interpretations and misunderstandings, which are critically examined in the present exhibition.
Dance allows us to see and aesthetically experience the hidden patterns of social life. From ballet at the court of Louis XIV to the Tiller Girls to performance art, break-dancing and flash mobs, dance uses movement to portray the fantasies, metaphors, structures and rules at work in other areas of our society — in government, business, and science. Nowhere are knowledge and pleasure bound together as closely as in dance. To make that relation come alive is one of the goals of the present exhibition.
CURATORIAL AND DRAMATIC CONCEPT
Dance is a volatile, ephemeral phenomenon. In order to capture its dynamic quality and complexity, the exhibition develops cognitive and physical approaches, giving equal importance to both. A knowledge thread, showing how dance both reflects and shapes culture and society, is interwoven with a dance thread that sets the visitors in motion, offering an immediate, physical experience of dance. Visitors are also integrated in the dramaturgy of the exhibition by the careful composition of conventional exhibits and multimedia installations, of artworks and performative stations. The tour becomes a dance in which each visitor invents his or her own choreography.
The exhibition reflects contemporary thinking about dance and its importance for our conception of ourselves as humans. Just as dance can be considered as a playful way of assimilating the world cognitively and physically, the exhibition with its experimental methods affords a deeper understanding of dance as a human activity.