Reblog: Pretentiousness

Here’s Jana Perkovic???the guerrilla semiotician???discussing pretentiousness.

I am hoping she’ll sort out self-indulgence* for me next. Actually, I sound cynical, but I am not at all. I enjoyed Jana’s ‘taking back’ of the word, and her discussion of failure reminded me of Steve Paxton from Materials for the Spine:

I believe that the important work is accomplished in the multiple failures to accomplish the idealized form ??? tiny back-to-the-drawing-board moments between attempts. The dancer has tried and been found wanting. With this awareness they seek new approaches. And the real work and value of improvisation has begun.

* The grand-daddy of put-downs with respect to making work. But where are the lines? When does work cross over into indulgence? Is it about lacking in vulnerability? Or being too vulnerable? Help Jana help!


6 Replies to “Reblog: Pretentiousness”

  1. I spent most of the day redefining it all – must be my Germanic education, hell-bent on categorizing the world. Say we reconceptualize it so that self-indulgence means being happy with one’s work, not challenging oneself, and not challenging the world. Pretentiousness would then be not challenging oneself, yet challenging the world. Thus, a step up. Challenging oneself, but not the world would be growing, and challenging both a masterpiece…If the entire world could be work on definitions alone…

  2. Am loving this.So, by your Jacob’s Ladder of performance making we have (working from the ground up):Self-indulgentPretentiousGrowthMasterpieceI am sold … can I categorise my own work in this way?

  3. I am sure you can. I considered giving examples (dance examples, nonetheless), but that would have been crassly and outrageously undiplomatic of me.On that note, though, I loved Inert. I was thinking how, for example, it could not possibly be categorised as self-indulgent, because of the way it forced the audience to reconsider their expectations. Now, I admit I haven’t seen your previous work, so I don’t know whether you challenged yourself(!). OMG the limits of interpretation!I hope you know what I mean. Since we’ve settled on the Jacob’s Ladder, you see why I think pretention is a good starting point, not to be crushed in the bud?Or, to ask a question back, do you think one can grow and get better by skipping pretentiousness altogether?

  4. Larf. Am wondering how to dig myself out of this conversation. Inert did represent a challenge in many ways. On a pragmatic level, simply finishing the season is a big physical and psychological challenge. Being met every 30 minutes by 2 new (and expectant) audience members …The work also places all sorts of demands on my understanding of performativity. It draws attention to what it is to be watched as a performer. This is difficult (and also fun). But I guess I tend to think of challenges as being mostly about conceptual complexity and also finding alternative methods of developing collaborative methods. I am not sure about "pretention being a good starting point" … I think because it lends itself to a particular lack of questioning in one’s own making. The approach is "I know what I am doing" even when it would appear to others that this is not the case (hence it being a pretense). I think I tend to prefer "not knowing" as a good way in (although of course, part of being experienced is about recognising the edges of one’s knowledge/understanding).Have to go and do some other writing.

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