Sporobole is proud to invite you to austrian artist Wolfgang Tragseiler’s performance that will take place at 6L30 p.m. on Friday October 21, 2016. A video will also be presented and will be visible from the street, from October 21 to December 17, 2016.
This performance and the video are two projects that were developed during a two-month international residency at Sporobole.
How, where and with whose help does one actually learn how to striptease? And what kind of challenges present themselves when one does not only actively embark on learning it, but at the same time turns it into an artistic intervention? In a nightclub, sex workers gradually teach Wolfgang Tragseiler step and movement sequences of striptease. He allows himself three months for this. This implies that not only does he postulate the assumption that striptease can be considered a specific dance technique, but he also poses the question of the potential classification of this dance technique within a classic repertoire of dance styles. This problem of classifying and assessing is closely interlinked with ideas of “female” eroticism, which find expression in striptease, as well as with patriarchal structures and utilization mechanisms of the sex industry and the symbolic charge of striptease as foreplay of the sexual act.
Ostensibly, striptease is treated as practical knowledge and learning content that can be conveyed without standardized didactics: So it is a course for ‘absolute beginners’, regarding teachers as well as learners. Specifically, Tragseiler resorts to the trick of role reversal in Exceedance: By taking on the part of the learning female dancer, the male subject leaves the position of an observer and voyeur and becomes an object of desire trying with all its might to exhaust this status as much as possible. As far as costumes are concerned, the usual women’s clothes are used. But this remains the only thing that Tragseiler doesn’t turn upside down in Exceedance.
On a physical level, Tragseiler acquires movement patterns with a “feminine” connotation – he overstretches and – and thereby confuses the gaze of his potential male and female observers and makes them ask questions about their own gender identity. One could also say: The “male” fantasy is performed by the fantasiser himself, who at the same time imagines and observes himself in the act of staging. How so? Well, the main realization strategies of this piece are not only dance or performance, but also the method of video documentation, which allows the artist to revise and communicate his work afterwards.
In order to ensure the anonymity of the women, the training units themselves are recorded only acoustically. Using this sound recording, Tragseiler repeats the exercises live on camera after each training session. The recordings produced in this way form the raw material for the planned video piece, in which the element of the “exercise unit” will be used as a structuring principle of composition. A performance will mark the end of the training cycle on location.
Tragseiler’s examination makes us aware that the image of “female” sexuality and especially its depictions in the field of the sex industry are first and foremost a construct of male fantasies. Because it is the “male gaze”, as Exceedance suggests, that creates the object of its desire as such in the first place. But what exactly about the gaze of the camera, which frames this work for its part? It soon becomes obvious that it also plays with the perspective of the “male” voyeur and provokes the following questions: Who takes up position behind the camera? Who guides the camera’s gaze regime? Is it gender identity that constitutes meaning here, too? In what way does the later editing influence this gaze and its conveyance?
What this piece doubtlessly enacts is the meta-reflexive trick of self-observance and thus the appropriation of table dancing as an artistic self-technique. The fact that Tragseiler also works with the medium of video is the precondition for the act of self-observance to even take place afterwards. Be it during rehearsals in direct dialogue with the sex workers, during self-training with the help of tape recordings or during re-enactments in the course of the live performance or video recording: Methods of repeating, memorising and rehearsing all refer to the ancient practice of áskēsis. Together, they form the decisive artistic strategy Tragseiler appropriates in Exceedance.
Text: Antonia Rahofer
Artist and studio-apartment residency exchanges between Québec and Upper Austria
Given the importance the Québec government accords to creating lasting cultural ties with Upper Austria, in 2014 the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) concluded a two-year partnership agreement with the State Government of Upper Austria to create an exchange program of studio-apartments and studios for creation and resourcing for the visual and digital arts. These residencies are intended to promote the creation of durable bonds and the cross fertilization of approaches between artists from Québec and Upper Austria, thus fostering their artistic development.
In the context of this exchange, a Québec artist can reside for a two-month sojourn in one of the nine studios included in the Atelierhaus Salzamt international artists residency space in the City of Linz and an artist from Upper Austria can take advantage of a creation residency of the same duration at the SPOROBOLE centre, in Sherbrooke.
Photos : Tanya St-Pierre