Age in itself is a constantly changing variable, but it’s also a performative one. The 21st century relies on slowing down, until the point of canceling the natural transformations of the (human) organism in time, the concept of youth (mental & physical), especially in the case of social age, being widely infused in the capitalist consumer society.
Biotechnology has developed to such an extent that it is now possible to create a new post-human that has control over birth and death, as well as the ageing process.
Through scientific research, reflective writing and art projects, the issue of Performance research, “On Ageing (& Beyond)” highlights works of art that embrace age and ageing (by or with “senior” artists) and speculates on the future of ageing bodies and their minds (wisdom, experience, fragility and forgetfulness) in the frame of creative endeavour and of fragile ecologies: alternative, private and global temporalities are being moved forward.
The issue opens with a provocative, courageous and sarcastic text authored by Elinor Fuchs – “From the sublime age to youth: old age according to Pfizer” – which confronts and questions the ethics and marketing/commodification of age and ageing by the pharmaceutical company global. Fuchs unveils and unwraps the wrinkle-free visions of the Pfizer campaign, which intentionally promotes youthful images of being old and getting older (Get Old and #FOGO- Fear of Getting Old) through numerous commercials, billboards, promotions and websites. In the course of a concise and illuminating text, the mood changes to a keen awareness that Pfizer cannot represent age by itself, resorting only to youthful “youth” and young bodies. Fuchs further argues that “age cannot be separated from gender and that gender cannot be separated from disgust” – an achievement that informs many of the articles in the magazine.
Although it is not exclusively focused on dance and performance, this issue contains as well a series of essays that explore how dance and choreographic practices approach age and ageing. In the pages of the magazine, you will find:
- a conversation with Yvonne Rainer, co-founder of Judson Dance Theatre, who does a fascinating and detailed analysis of Trio A, a piece made fifty years ago, and presented in 2017 at a performative exhibition in Japan;
- interviews with older professional dancers who investigate their cognitive ability, their experience of pain and injury, their physical and mental strategies to continue dancing in ageing bodies;
- questions that arise in the case of replays by choreographers of works from their youth with their bodies now aged (Meredith Monk – Education of a girlchild): How does the body of a person forty years older render the gestures created by that body when it was a young man? What traces of age or youth does the viewer retain?
- an article about the discrimination of the dancer’s aged body and about the complexity and fragility of his archive body, about the balance between memory that can be recovered by performance and that that cannot be recovered (Eszter Salomon and Christophe Wavalet – Monument 01 and 02)
- a discussion generated by the expansion of the concept of reenactment as a symptom of the ageing generations of performers in the 60s and their performance art productions which through the intrinsic ephemerality of their practice open the debate on alternative archiving methods for intangible, non-archival works of artists (Tine Seghal – Ann Lee)
- about the political protest action of the Egyptian women from 2014, when they were able to claim through dance, as an ideal performative environment, their liberation from the fundamentalist system. This was the first attempt to link the history of dance, age and shame to the political sphere of public action.
- about robotic identities of older bodies in Japan, about exploring mature female corporality in performances in Israel, about community artistic practices that draw attention to the homeless elderly, about the initiative of a female performance group that encourages performative potential through practices of movement and artistic interaction for older women, about ways to be present in the world and to conduct our lives in bodies that have a time limit that cannot be avoided.
On Aging (& Beyond) – Vol. 24/Nr 3/May 2019 is part of the collection of the “Performance Research” journal, which you can find at the CNDB Media Library.