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Doing the Contemporary: Pina Bausch as a Conceptual Artist

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2018


This essay asks the question whether and in what respect the work of German choreographer Pina Bausch can be considered to be contemporary. Building on Peter Osborne's definition of the contemporary as “a disjunctive unity of present times,” I aim to extract the conceptual concerns of Bausch's work that thus far have received little critical attention. In so doing, I first consider the temporal relations articulated in Bausch's work, particularly her relation to the past that comes to define the present, exposing its claims to unity as a fiction. Second, I focus on the medial aspects of Bausch's work, including her 1988/89 film, The Plaint of the Empress. By making the media aspect of Bausch's work the center of my attention, I argue that it is precisely the work's media saturation that allows for its contemporary distribution, display, and formatting. It is here that Bausch's contemporaneity as a principle of work and a working principle can be found.

Copyright © Dance Studies Association 2018 

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