cflow journal - issue 2013-2

Creative Assemblages – When aesthetics meet the economy or what do they have in Common?

Ferhat Özgür

It's time to dance now

Video, 6:10 min, 2008.

The movie draws a poetic detour for some other road towards a deterritorialized suburban landscape under the great transformation of globalization with its recomposition of capital and mobility. In front of the dynamically circling and blurring camera unfolds a panoramic view showing urban strata of population with the different social layers and their architectural sedimentation and biopolitical embedding. The view opens on the picture of a landscape of social shaking as a result of economic and geopolitical processes with their deterritorializing and reterritorializing forces, which lead to the surface of the Earth being covered with quickly built homes as material traces of the displacement and destratification of vibrant communities from rural areas. What comes out of these processes is a catastrophic and imbalanced growth of the city, with a drastic segregation between the space inhabited by the rich, and the poor’s milieu. The latter live in alienating chaotic areas, deserts of densely built structures guaranteeing a sufficient reserve army of labor to the city – where there is no such thing as “standard existential norms” or other “benefits of civilization,” where the system of distribution and supply is disjoint from that in the gentrified and prosperous neighborhoods, where investment and capital are conspicuous by their absence.

Ferhat Özgür in this movie chooses to show more than he tells. If the artist’s role in society is not to judge, that by no means implies that he does not take sides in his work. In this particular work there is a tactical and guerrilla-logic point of view, as well as a stratoanalytical method and micropolitical approach combined with the wisdom of the poet, as this specific poet sings a song about how from the found stones of day-to-day life the Ideal Palace of Postman Cheval so dear to the Surrealists gets built – his “Temple of Nature.” The movie not only reveals something ambiguous and disturbing with the performance of a dancing girl by the ruins of a village on the urban backdrop as an amphitheater stage. It smuggles something smooth in conjunction with how the artist mixes the field of reality, the field of representation, and the field of affect. The video is charming with its documentary and its fictional character, with its neutral voice as an expression of the “thought of the outside,” this philosophical privilege of the outside. Indeed this is a silent statement like that of Walter Benjamin’s Storyteller who, returning from the war, finds himself “under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged, and beneath these clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile human body.”

If It’s time to dance now is on the one hand a dance to escape the stupor of the subaltern, it is also a striking statement, full of waves of noisy music and rhythm, а material image between heaven and hell in which something of the “Gay Science” of Nietzschean-Dionysian transgression and mysteries shines through. There are many arguments about why this movie should be perceived as a negation, telling the epic story that power can be a very productive force in society, taking a positive view with respect to social production and multiplicity. Following Foucault one can say that there is always something very positive in the heart of the negative. The film subversively affirms it through its cinematic persona – through her movements the living strata get moving, through her body’s capacity to act they escape the spatio-temporal relations with their petrified social coordinates.

What kind of bizarre statement of resistant or mystical and magic ritual is that? Why is this displaced singular figure of a dancing clandestine girl wearing a jilbab and niqab? She is under a full-body mask, which impersonalizes her and makes this figure stand outside of subjectivity, which allows every other woman to identify with the “clandestine” dance performer in black. Let us say that the girl is several. She is many, and at the same time she is one, embodies a deterritorializing flow of the unrecognized “without any tracing and without any copying of the central order” (n is in fact always n-1), fuelling social multiplicity. With her somewhat robotic and slightly hysterical dance she tells all, reveals nothing – reveals all, tells nothing. It’s time to dance now is the time for mobilizing women’s power to be creative in play and dance. Even if it is a militant practice in action her dance goes beyond anger. With its transversal communication it brings hope, with so much humor, and changes the direction of the wind! And her boots! How could the viewer not love them? The video work It’s time to dance now draws its own line of flight. The girl’s ecstatic dance looks like a shamanistic ritual of coming spring, asking for good weather for everyone as only very fine leaves of grass green up the surface of the soil. In her dance there is something of a drive for total freedom, allowing deep breathing and joy of life itself.

There is air and sky above the houses and architectural structures – the main commons. Below it all lie the houses and architectural units as strange and ugly creatures ordered and grouped in hierarchical structures, between them a plateau with a dancing girl, a manifest of many and one from the margins, from the marginalized and unheard voices. In her voiceless danced statement she gives space to what has been excluded, a manifestation of the girl in a process of a multiple becomings: becoming-woman, which is not the same as being a woman or being determined as a girl, becoming a trans-figure, becoming from multitude a singular machinic assemblage, a molecular machine. She merges with the machine sound, or let’s say there is something extra-human in her ecstatic machinic dance which ruins the separation between subject and object, merges with the animalistic, and at the same time looks a bit like a comic-strip hero, a ninja, Lara Croft, a raven. The flow of her energy and power captures the relation between human/social and nature. In her intense dance there is something like no-order that cannot be explained in rational terms, related rather to the unconscious and to the pure infinity of freedom and the cosmic, that evades any attempt at categorizing. She is in an exterior rhizomatic conjunction with the wind, the air, the rocks, the houses, the roads. Hers is a drive to attempt overcoming isolation at a very philosophical universal level and at the same time in a very singular sense of daily life existence. She can be perceived as the embodiment of a nomadic deterritorialization of value as a form of commodity and property. If you close your eyes and try to imagine the home of your dreams, could it not be under the open sky in view of the stars? Are we not exterior beings?

Text: Dimitrina Sevova