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Maska, časopis za scenske umetnosti

Doubles adn Their Bodies

All the doubles that are created by working with the body, by talking, writing or thinking about it, potentially alter our physical bodies. In fact, our body is in company of doubles as soon as it is entering this world because acts of speaking, naming, thinking, reasoning etc. ascribe meaning to the body and thereby have an effect on it already then. It is not only surrounded by the various visual doubles that inhabit the media and are primarily produced by (video)cameras. When we write about it, the material body that is always already in the process of becoming (an)other (body) is necessarily a missed one (as it can also be said about it´s appearance on pictures). As ways of thinking and being body directly influence each other, being body implies a fundamental paradox: while being undoubtedly material it is simultaneously subject to constant disembodiment. When reflecting on the body, it is often treated as a body of sense that serves as a reference to meaning, it lays itself a snare in it´s search for signs and sense, Jean-Luc Nancy wrote, and is totally entangled in it. As soon as we write, think or speak about the body, but also if we work with it, the production of doubles is at stake. These doubles – once set out into a certain discourse or performance – thus buzz through diverse contexts, spaces and minds and can have a great influence on the body in retrospect. 

Which kinds of bodies do all these doubles that sourround us have? Do we get a glimpse of them in certain performances, in certain texts?

This joint-issue of MASKA and Corpus is dedicated to five heterogenous texts concerned with the analysis and the creation of doubles as well as with the political implications of (producing) them. The issue also contains two reflections of performances that currently premiered. The essays have already been published online on www.corpusweb.net in the frame of specific thematic focusses. They were chosen because of their relevance in regard to our bodies doubles and these doubles bodies and are assembled in this magazine alongside this new conceptual thread – in an English and a Slovene translation.

Signifier and significatum in one our doubles and their bodies are social constructs that are involved in various communication games which are ever increasingly affected by the logic of transaction and trade in which our existence is embedded – a bed that was accurately prepared by the last generations. 

Boyan Manchev, philosopher and cultural theorist, points out that the body is not only becoming an object of fashion and attaining the attitude of a non-stop consumerist, capitalism – that is his theses – is no longer productive but performative. In his essay on the perversity of the current stage of capitalism in which forms of life become the new commodities he explains why dance obtains an important role in resisting the totalisation of the market and in deconstructing the idea of a permanently permutable and modifiable body.

Rabih Mroué, writer, director, performer and visual artist born in Beirut, shows in his text „A martyr´s body“ how a fictional construct of a body (in this case more specifically a corpse) directly impinges on actual events and how the creation of this double leads the further course of history to a certain direction. The intriguing story of a Lebanese who discovers a statue in honor of his martyrdom uncovers the direct link between political rituals and the perception of the body – regardless of whether dead or alive. The glorification of death and its loading with symbolic additional value has a strong bearing on the very singular existence of a once unknown prisoner. The backdrop of Mroué´s essay is the conflictual relation between Palestine and Isreal. Originally written in 2004, it has unfortunately not lost it´s actuality.

The decoupling of the name and its carrier is also a main issue in Helmut Ploebst´s text that reflects the performative journey of names that carry (the absence) of bodies into various realms of meaning and discursive contexts. In this essay that was originally written for a series of texts on specters, he analyses how the ghostly presence of names – the most abstract signifiers of bodies – become a playground when it comes to the use of pseudonyms. Bodies as signs in the semiotic jungle and signs as (denoting) bodies – while Ploebst, dance/performance-theorist and researcher, touches and blurs the fictive treshold between the material body and it´s emblematic existence as name, the fighter in Marcus Steinweg´s philsosphical poem „7 Figures“ is characterized as a nameless and faceless subject. The philosopher Marcus Steinweg puts a typology of singularities that populate the „factual labyrinth of life“ forward that could be seen as an attempt not to write about bodies but to write them.

By analysing strategies of defiguration in various performances in the last 15 years Krassimira Kruschkova, head of the theory-department of Tanzquartier Wien, encourages us to read the body against it´s grain. She borrows a linguistic term in order to establish the „anagrammatic body“ as a figure of thought that allows her to grasp deconstructive procedures in numerous artistic projects.