The Choreography of Objects: Logistics vs. Entanglement
25-28 February 2019
Workshop with Moritz Frischkorn
In recent years, theoreticians both from political sciences and cultural studies have become more and more interested in the business field of logistics. Besides finance (and new logics of extraction, some authors claim), logistics seems to be one of the key notions to understand global capitalism today.
Today logistics considers itself the totalized management and governance of all flows of capital, labour and commodities. And more than ever, logistics is administered and steered by algorithms – auto-managed and automated, implementing a computational governance that subjects labour as much as all material resources of the globe to its regime. Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, in their essay ‘Fantasy in the Hold’, thus write: ‘The rise of logistics is rapid. Indeed, to read today in the field of logistics is to read a booming field, a conquering field. In military science and in engineering of course, but also in business studies, in management research, logistics is everywhere.
Logistics as choreography describes the faculty of being able to transport ‘mountains of goods’ (Maersk) just in time. The use of ‘choreography’ as marketing metaphor is then mirrored also in expert papers speaking about Supply Chain Choreographies as ways to interface diverse informational systems.
Reading about the confluence and interrelation of logistics and choreography together, we will try to unfold some of the historic as much as contemporary political problematics related to this totalizing choreography of power operating by extraction, abduction and containerization. At the same time, we can discuss in how far this ‘other’ choreography of objects, based on efficiency and seamless interfaces, reflects back on recent discourses about an ‘expanded choreography’ in the field of contemporary performing arts and Performance Studies. How can an understanding of the history and contemporary over-practice of logistics inform our own choices when moving stuff? What are the political dimensions that are at play here – especially if we do not concede to maximizing claims for efficiency, but to an ethics of ‘following the materials’ or of attending and attuning to manifold entanglements?
In a second step, we will try to play around with logistical concepts in order to re-formulate our own artistic practices. We will draw maps of the diverse material and semiotic resources that go into our work: From where do they enter, and at what point do our practices interface with these resources? Could we imagine ways of working with material or information, where ‘value is added at each step’? What would be more efficient ways of thinking about our own ‘supply chains’, both in terms of research and artistic production? When, on the other hand, are the moments in which we are overwhelmed by materials, where we can only try to follow their itinerant logics of entanglement and proliferation? Presenting these ‘total cost analysis’ and ‘supply chain diagram’ to each other, we may find out how our own and others practices rely on a fine balance between logistical efficiency and itinerant, entangled hyper-chaos.
On another, more physical level, we can assess our own work-spaces from a logistical point of view. In Amazon distribution centers, for example, goods are shelved chaotically, according to algorithmic procedures. In the same way, we can think of workspaces as processual logistical choreographies based on the in- and out-flux of materials and information. What if we thought of our workspaces thus as a form of archive of the logistics that made it come to be in its current shape? Does that give us valuable information about our practices? On the horizon, then, we come to articulate an even bigger question: Can we formulate an ethics of how to work with materials, whatever form, coherence, shape or agility they may have?
Moritz Frischkorn is a choreographer and researcher working within contemporary performing arts. He is based in Hamburg, where, since 2015, he is part of the artistic-theoretic graduate school ‘Performing Citizenship’ at HafenCity University. His artistic research deals with ethical and social questions related to choreographies of objects. In his artistic work, he looks for bodily practices of attuning to non-human movement and researches ways of moving beyond self-expression and intentionality.
In the last years, he is interested, mainly, in the relation of choreography and logistics, a topic that he will deal with in detail within a new performance project entitled ‘The Great Report’. His artistic work is regularly presented at Kampnagel, Hamburg. Furthermore, he often collaborates with, among others, Manon Santkin (Brussels, Stockholm), his Hamburg colleagues Heike Bröckerhoff and Jonas Woltemate, and performance collective geheimagentur. Sporadically, he writes for ‘Plateau – Performing Arts in Hamburg’ and works for Sarma/Oral Site web-journal.