Revolt of the Body in Stillness (2022): Text and Performance Quarterly
While Susan Sontag has argued that war photography paralyzes and ethically overwhelms us, the essay considers if we can, nevertheless, rely on the aesthetic of the image, and specifically, the aesthetic of Butoh performance to incite ethical responsiveness in the face of violence? How does choreographic method of stillness in Butoh frame our ethical obligations to reveal functions of invisible economies of violence1? Must we be overwhelmed to some degree in order to have an ethical obligation toward the other and a motive for action?
The essay argues for choreographic method of stillness as political aesthetic that creates sites for critical engagement of violence. The aesthetic form of Butoh is a patient, durational, performance that extends space for ethically facing the other; it highlights entanglement of voice, politics of in/visibility, ethics, and ideology. Most importantly, the analysis charges Butoh stillness as revolt; a critical stance and a political commitment stubbornly persistent in its engagement of violence.
Photo: [Marc Veit Schwär © 2022]