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Art is often recognised as a form of expression that comments on and responds to various social and political issues. But how is the production and circulation of art itself embroiled in the conditions that it describes and critiques? That’s the question this episode seeks to explore.
Our host for this discussion is Daniel Kok, a choreographer, curator and artistic director of Dance Nucleus. From Singapore, he speaks to Switzerland-based interdisciplinary performing artist and producer Martin Schick about how art-making can interrogate capitalist logic and other norms and practices that are often taken for granted in artistic production.
How can artists engage critically with their socio-economic contexts and notions of prestige and cultural capital in arts markets? For Martin, these questions, along with the global climate crisis, have prompted him to focus on long-term artmaking projects rooted in his home base rather than an intense international touring schedule.
As the cultural manager of Swiss innovation hub blueFACTORY, he also explains how he is working with public and private institutions, as well as local communities, to make space for social innovation and “citizens of the future”.
Besides being long-time friends and former Berlin flatmates, Daniel and Martin also share an interest in questioning assumptions of spectatorship. Does the objective of performance always have to be the creation of a spectacle that sets the skilled artist apart from the audience? How can non-human actants like animals and plants be involved and acknowledged as participants or co-creators of both art and life?
Rejecting a rigid boundary between art and everyday life, this discussion prompts reflection on how artistic interventions can engender new ways of engaging with the world, in all its complexity and chaos.
This conversation makes reference to French sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour. Find out more about his ideas regarding the relationships between human and nonhuman agents.
For da:ns festival 2016, Martin performed Halfbreadtechnique, a performance based on the concept of giving away half of what you own for a charitable cause. Download the programme here.
For da:ns festival 2018, Daniel performed xhe, an exploration of ways of seeing that engage with multiplicity and pluralism. Download the programme here.
Both Martin and Daniel have been exploring their interests in nature through artmaking—the former through projects such as Nature Politics, and the latter through projects such as Hundreds+Thousands.
This episode of Making A Scene is produced by Hong Xinyi and Wong Kwang Lin for Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
About Martin Schick
Born in Switzerland, Martin Schick is a cross-disciplinary artist, cultural manager and activist. Educated as a performance artist at the Highschool of Arts in Berne, he has created spatial projects in the field of dance and performance for more than 15 years while working with international collaborators at prestigious venues. He believes that artists need to be more artistic than productive. As a result, his practice has evolved to focus on two primary functions: as an initiator of artistic platforms, organisations and networks (institutional practice) and as an artist that hacks other systems (activist practice). Since 2018, he has acted as the cultural manager for the blueFACTORY innovation district in Switzerland where he is also developing a social permaculture test space. Martin is also investigating fair governance models and co-writing a proposal for reorganising the European arts sector for RESHAPE, a research and development project that brings together arts organisations from Europe and the South Mediterranean.
About Daniel Kok
Daniel Kok received his BA in Fine Art & Critical Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2001 and MAs in Solo/Dance/Authorship from the Inter-University Center for Dance Berlin in 2012 as well as Advanced Performance and Scenography Studies from a.pass Brussels in 2014. Exploring the relational politics in spectatorship and audienceship, Daniel has worked with pole dancing, cheerleading, bondage and other ‘figures of performance’. His performances have been presented across Asia, Europe, Australia and North America, most notably at the Venice Biennale, the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin, and Festival/Tokyo. His recent works include Bunny (2016), xhe (2018), and Hundreds+Thousands, which will premiere at the National Gallery Singapore in 2021.
As artistic director of Dance Nucleus, Daniel focuses on sociality as a nexus for discourse and practice in different art forms while building capacities for artistic development and trans-local partnerships in Asia and Australia. He has curated da:ns lab, an annual workshop-seminar held by Esplanade since 2015. He is also a core group member of the Asia Network for Dance (AND+).
Curated as part of da:ns festival, this podcast series gathers the insights and expertise of practitioners, producers and writers from Singapore, Asia and the rest of the world. Listen to illuminating conversations across a range of topics about culture, society and the world we live in, centred on a love for dance and movement.
A reimagined da:ns festival 2020 invites you to discover movement across diverging mediums – through your body and from your screen, from 12 – 31 October.
Get up and move
A reimagined da:ns festival 2020 invites you to discover movement across diverging mediums – through your body and from your screen. Free your mind and explore dance in its varied forms and expressions with thought-provoking new works, illuminating conversations, introductory videos and more.