Syllabi and Program Details for DasArts Block 15

(Note this document is in progress and subject to change.)

A concise program is here. My own notes on the Event Horizon are here. A list of references related to the theme are here.

Introduction & Performances

Week 0: 14 - 16 September 2001

Week Details:


Introduction day. Welcoming speech Alida. Tour of DasArts. Dinner.

Evening: Attend 'First Night' (Forced Entertainment / Tim Etchells) at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg. Time: 20:00 hrs.


(Optional: Rotterdamse Schouwburg, 15:00 hrs.) 5 Short Solo Performances: 'Private Room', 'I'm All Yours', & 'Soft Wear' by Meg Stuart and 'Starfucker' & 'Down Time' by Tim Etchells. Performance followed by a panel discussion. Recommended.

Orpheus Descending

Week I: 17 - 21 September 2001


One week before the block begins each participant is to be sent a box containing the following materials: (1) a small flashlight, (2) a small mirror, (3) a two minute sand-timer (hourglass/zandloper), (4) a piece of black cloth measuring one by one meter, (5) a small block of modeling clay (Talens' Modeline), (6) a map of a foreign country (possibly Romania), (7) a fresh apple, and the following photocopies: (8) Ovid's, (9) Virgil's and (10) Robert Graves' (from 'The Greek Myths') versions of the tale of Orpheus, (11) a copy of Blanchot's essay 'The Gaze of Orpheus,' and (12) the following message printed on a piece of paper:

Welcome to Block 15!

The start of the block. The expectations of the first week. I hope we'll get to know each other a bit as artists, get a chance to show each other something of our individual strengths and weaknesses and establish some common ground for our research over the following weeks. The goal of the week is to review the myth of Orpheus, who dared to descend into the underworld, to gain back her or his lost love. In order to do this we'll be taking a short trip ourselves, to a place where we can work, look at some films and talk.

You are going to need to take this box with you. The box contains everything you need to produce your own version of the Orpheus myth. (If you don't think it's enough you can add a couple of things of your own to the 12 existing objects but note that everything together should fit in the box.)

Your mission (for Tuesday the 18th of September) is to reenact the story, or part of the story, in under two minutes (hence the sand-timer). Practice as often as you need to. Feel free to use your body, your voice, whatever...

Good luck!

Week Details:


(Excursion) Assignment and the viewing of 2 Films: Jean Cocteau's 'Orphée', Marcel Camus' 'Black Orpheus.'


(Excursion) Assignment and the viewing of 2 Films: Jean Cocteau's 'Orphée', Marcel Camus' 'Black Orpheus.'


Rest day.


Introduction to the floatation tank. (Film screenings.)


10:00 - 13:00. Seminar with Dragan Klaic on 'documentating the artistic process' ie. the practice and forms of recording one's research (letters, diaries, artist's notebooks etc.).

Friday evening dinner and presentation of Orpheus reenactments to a small audience? (Including tutors: Ulay, Tom McCarthy.)

(References for Friday: excerpts from Blanchot: 'The Writing of the Disaster,' Toufic's chapter: 'Letters' (from Vampires), article on memetics as a way of surviving death...)

'C' Meditation (Ulay)

Week II: 24 - 25 September 2001

A 24 hour meditation (starting Monday, 24 September at 18:00 hrs. and ending Tuesday, 25 September at 18:00 hrs.) led by Uwe Laysiepen (Ulay). Ulay's CV.

Ulay's Proposition:

Imagination -- Death Image

The actor / performer can encounter death -- a dead Other -- not him or herself. The actor / performer can't play dead -- children play 'like' dead.

The act of act-ual dying -- theatre / movie end. Endless interpretations -- but dying.

Two last words -- my interpretation: death simple.


My contribution to the theme of the 15th Block of DasArts will be a strictly meditative attempt. By means of endurance and the effort made throughout a particular meditation we can perhaps manage to go surpass or go beyond our image of death. Because death can't be any different from what each of us has accumulated during his or her life. That what is there, death will take.

Perhaps a child's first, frightening, recognition of the fact that they fall asleep might be similar.

So I suggest we meditate together till exhaustion. Whether or not we make use of a particular meditation object, a fair time for such effort would be 24 hours. During meditation the participants must refrain from talking, reading or writing, recording by any means, eating food and nutricious drinks. Neither any perfumes or incense should be used.


Some accounts of death:

"Mortals are immortal, immortals mortal: These live the death of those. Those die the life of these." (Heraclitus)

"I kill my body because it kills me." (Dorotheus of Thebes)

"Philosophy is practising death." (Socrates)

When Zeno the Stoic, an old man, tripped and fell, he smote the earth with his staff and said, "I'm comming! Don't call so loudly!" -- then held his breath until he died.

Metrocles is said to have choked himself with his hands rather than holding his breath.

Seneca, when ordered by Nero to kill himself, prolonged it with tournequets while he gave a long boring lecture on virtue.

When Socrates's disciples asked what he wanted them to do with his corpse, he said, "Just throw it on the dump."

Sustained Inquiry (Frank van de Ven)

Week II: 26 - 28 September 2001

A 24 hour event (starting Thursday, 27 September at 12:00 hrs. and ending Friday, 28 September at 12:00 hrs.) led by Frank van de Ven. Frank van de Ven's CV.

Introduction: Wednesday, 26 September 16.00- 20.00 at DasArts

Note: on Thursday everyone should meet at 11:00 at the Zuid-As (an hour before the event starts).

Frank's Proposition:

24 hour Sustained Inquiry

"Anything or anybody who falls through the event horizon will soon reach the region of infinite density and the end of time."

(Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time)

At the outset of our exploration of the boundaries of human experience and understanding I propose a 24 hour event1 which scans, collects, collates and clarifies our existing notions over the 'event horizon' and the unknowability of death.

Basic Description

Over 24 hours we will repeatedly rotate clockwise around 12 'stations' of individual actions and / or states with every 5th station reserved for group activities. Each station is 12 minutes long and thus 1 hour is thus divided into 4 individual and 1 group station. During the first 6 hours the group activities are preset, afterwards each participant will have the opportunity to propose and direct a group activity.

Sustained Inquiry

The durational aspect of the event seeks to extend and intensify our perception of the subject through repetition and the exchange of individual information.

The parameters of each station will be negotiated differently by each participant -- each participant is expected to customize and 'fine-tune' each station over the course of the 24 hours. Obviously the 'quality' of the negotiation depends on the intent and energy put into it.


  1. Walking backwards.

  2. Repetition in duos (a) passive (b) dialogue Orpheus, mini disc.

  3. Repetition in duos (a) active (b) dialogue Orpheus.

  4. Reading Station: (a) Blanchot (b) other texts, library.

  5. Facing a mirror.

  6. Transference: your 2 minute re-enactment passed on to another.

  7. Help Desk: Frank and Paul. Time signal of 12 minutes, music, discussion of group activity proposals, general progress check, observation.

  8. Development Station. Work on a personal project. Participants supply their own material.

  9. Transference: your own 2 minute re-enactment passed on to another.

  10. Blind-folded movement work.

  11. Documentation Station. Participants write about their experiences (computer projection). Take photos and video.

  12. Rest Station: dressing room, toilet, snacks and drinks.

Group Station Examples

Crying and laughter - Voice imitation - Circling the building - Watching through mirrors - Orpheus' collegues - Bisoku (slow movement) - Face imitation - Texts on theme - Club time dancing - Close immobility - Directed group activities.


Dinner at 18.00 hrs. Breakfast at 06.00 hrs.

Reshuffle Positions

After dinner, midnight, after breakfast.

Things to Bring

Music/sound you (dis)like. Texts on theme. Plan + material for development station. Plan for group activity. Change of clothes, costume. Sleeping bag. Toilet articles.

Note: I wish to acknowledge the contribution of my collegues from the 'How to make yourself a dancing Body without Organs' project and of Stuart Lynch, director of the 24h Performance Company in Copenhagen towards shaping my ideas about durational aspects of (performative) events.

Frank van de Ven
September 2001

Shooting History (Tom McCarthy)

Week III: 1 - 5 October 2001

Tom's Proposition:

Dear Paul,

The INS week at DasArts, as it is currently being envisaged by myself and the INS Committee, will revolve around a set of physical exercises and performances drawn from a particular event which we shall submit to the students for reenactment and extrapolation.

The event we intend to work from will be one that actually occurred in the recent past: a violent public incident that resulted in death. While your own suggestion that we should use an episode which holds intense historical and/or cultural significance, such as the murder of Marat in Marat/Sade or the defenestrative suicide of Gilles Deleuze, was considered at some length, we think that it would in fact be better to use a more anonymous, less specifically inflected episode. By denying any historical, cultural, politcal etc. specificity at one level, this anonymous event can serve as a place-marker for all death-centred events, be their significance global or personal, in the same way as the figure of the Unknown Soldier is used to represent all soldiers killed in war. This type of synecdochal or 'place-marker' logic has been exploited to excellent effect by Raymond Queneau in his novel Exercises in Style, in which he chooses to play and replay, from a variety of points of view and modes of representation, an utterly trivial incident (a man attempting to sit down in a bus), and in so doing effectively looks at the way in which history is generated through its (necessarily arbitrary and faulty) mediation - i.e. reenactment and extrapolation - from the ground-zero of matter and kinesis. It is also used with consumate success by Beckett throughout his entire oeuvre, which, in the very vagueness of its settings and references, manages to represent the almost unrepresentable: indeed, Beckett was hailed by Adorno as the one artist who has succesfully responded to the Holocaust, even though he never once mentions it.

The students, then, will break the event which I shall submit to them, a shooting incident, down into its constitutive parts - particular movements, periods of seconds and sub-seconds, trajectories of objects and so on - and, using dancers and/or actors, choreograph sequences which reproduce, mutate and expand these parts. They will do this in 'laboratory' environments: in a room whose walls have been gridded so as to render all positions and speeds measurable (the type of grid used by Edweard Muybridge in his early photographs of animals and humans in motion), in a crash test laboratory and in a wind tunnel. The sequences will be recorded from every conceivable angle and in every conceivable way - photographed, filmed, thermal imaged - and the data thus generated will be subjected to a process of analysis in which a physicist and a forensic expert work with the students to produce diagrams, charts, computer models and so on.

The week can be broken down into three parts:-

  1. Outlining of project (Monday)

  2. Reenactments of/extrapolations from event (Tuesday-Wednesday)

  3. Sorting and presentation of data generated by reenactments/extrapolations (Thursday-Friday)

For the outlining phase, I shall need a lecture theatre and a power point projector. I shall be referencing a wide range of sources, ranging from Francis Bacon's notebooks to slow-motion television replays of cricket and American football matches, police forensic data to Werner Herzog films. Could you indicate to me whether it would be possible, if I make a list of these things over the next weeks, for the staff at DasArts to help me gather and prepare the material? I shall also need help in gathering information pertaining to the original event being submitted for reenactment (this happened in Amsterdam a few years ago and received press coverage, both at the time and during a subsequent trial).

For the reenactments, we shall need a gridded 'theatre' space (be this outdoors or indoors), access to the wind tunnel on Windtunnelkade and access to a crash test laboratory. We shall also need numerous cameras and camera operators and a thermal imager. We shall need several dancers/actors, a physicist and a forensics expert.

For the data sorting and presentation, we shall need the physicist and the forensics expert's time and facilities. I am operating at the moment on the assumption that a controlled event can be 'turned over', i.e. translated into data, in a day. If it turns out that this process in fact takes longer, we will have to split the five days into a Monday-to-Thursday block and a second block the following Friday.

As a final coda to the project, I would like to use the data that's been generated - the charts, diagrams, photographs etc. - to 'trawl' other cultural and historical archives. For example, how will the images of a man raising and shooting his gun, as they have been reworked from the Ur-event, compare and contrast with Andy Warhol's shooting Elvis? With postures of figures in Egyptian tomb reliefs? With a base-umpire calling a batter 'safe' in baseball? How does the distribution of colour in the thermal image of a man falling to the floor compare/contrast with German or Abstract Expressionist paintings? With footage of a Kamikase pilot's aeroplane crashing into the sea? With an Olympic pole vaulter landing on his mat, a gymnast falling from her bars? Could one contemplate making an inventory of such things? Could one (the six million dollar question here) contemplate the possibility of actually translating the moment in which the event is grounded, the experience of death, or will this always remain untranslatable, unchoreographable, just 'un'?

Well, that's the project. Although the equipment and personnel required may seem daunting, its formula is really quite simple: install the appropriate 'frames' and the action will translate itself into data. In television coverage of cricket, gridded slow-motion replays, computer-generated extrapolatory models and tables of statisics can be produced within seconds of each 'event', each ball bowled. A dancer falling to the floor or raising a gun in a wind tunnel will automatically produce a film of air-flow around his or her hands, body, gun. Our aim is to bring a laboratory environment to bear on all sequences choreographed by the students, and to translate the sequences' kinesis into readable data with the shortest possible delay. To this end, I suggest we make contact with the physicist and the forensics expert, the Dutch Lucht- en Ruimtevaart organisation (who own the wind tunnel on Windtunnelkade) and a crash test laboratory as soon as possible.

I hope this document gives a picture of what it is we propose to do, and that this tarries with the impressions you took from the conversations we had in London earlier this week. I'd like to express my gratitude to you for inviting the INS to participate in the DasArts block, and our excitement about the prospect of doing so.


Tom McCarthy

Shooting History 2 (Tom McCarthy)

Week IV: 8 - 9 October 2001

What is Data? Together with Tom the participants of Block 15 edit and collate the results of their individual research in order to prepare a small presentation for Tuesday evening.

Note: Wednesday, 10 October and Thursday, 11 October are days off.

Endland Stories (Tim Etchells)

Week IV: 12 - 14 October 2001


'Death authorises the storyteller'

I think that's in Walter Benjamin's essay The Storyteller. I'm away from my books so I can't check. But in any case I wonder if that's one of the books I left behind when I moved out (two years ago) of the house that I used to share with D. In my mind I can see the cover of the book and the photograph on it. And I can even see the typeface of the book too. I think the essay began:

'Death authorises the storyteller'

Hello to the students of Block 15. From Paul Perry's website and his fragmentary account of your work there I feel I half-know you already. And from the brief brief meeting some of us had in the foyer of the Schouwburg in Rotterdam. Your faces. Pictures of you on the entrance to a cave.

We'll meet soon. And when we do I want to tell stories.

I want to spend a few days on narratives. In particular the stories we tell ourselves about the unknown and the unknowable. The details, shapes and structures of those stories. I want you to tell me stories. And there are some stories I want to tell you.

Here's one (a kind of story, at least). I wrote it this morning here in New York to my eldest son Miles back in England. He is 8 years old. I sent it to him via email.

Dear Miles,

Things here are fine. My foot got better and I can walk pretty reasonably now which is good because this is a city where its best to walk everywhere, the island of Manhattan is small and its streets are almost entirely arranged in a grid pattern so its very easy to navigate (which here means 'find your way around').

Went to an art exhibition with V. yesterday: mirrored rooms with thousands and thousands of spinning mirrored cubes in them and hundreds of changing colour lasers and lights projected onto and around them, light in flickers, winds and storms. Pretty amazing, disorientating, and occasionally making you feel like you might fall over! Perhaps the feeling of being in these rooms is like that of being inside a Gameboy while somebody is playing it.

Also yesterday took a subway with my friend R. down to what they call Ground Zero, where the hi-jacked planes were flown into the World Trade Centre three weeks ago. I had mixed feelings abut going down there. I was wondering what I wanted or hoped or expected to see. The site of such a terrible event is, perhaps, not something for 'tourists', to be looked at as one might look at a beautiful bridge or a famous painting. But I did want to go, to 'see for myself', whatever that might mean. I was glad to go with R. She has lived in this city most of her life and the view from her apartment last time I visited had the 'twin towers' right in the middle of it, the tallest structures in the city. I guess that in some way going with her made me feel less like a tourist, less uncomfortable.

Miles, you can't get too close to the site. Maybe 100 metres. But even from that distance it is 'stunning'. I definitely can't think of the right word to write there. The metal of the building structure is still reaching like a claw to the sky and there is more rubble and twisted metal than I have ever seen before in one place. All of the surrounding buildings are still covered in dust. And the smell of burning is still in the air. Men are working to clear the site. I think they are still working day and night.

Miles. We didn't stay long. Its hard to be there and to think about what a terrible thing happened in that place, about all the people that died. The city is still covered in posters of people that they say are 'missing' -- photocopied pictures of men and women that were in the building and who their friends and families hope are still aliveÖ but the chances of them being alive now are very slim.

Miles, lots and lots of people were arriving to look at the site. Strangely what struck and affected me most was the looks on the faces of the other people. People were very quiet. Faces almost blank and expressionless. There were some people taking photographs and video. But I wasn't offended by that ñ it felt more like a hopeless and inadequate (but perhaps understandable) way of trying to make sense of the scene or just 'something to do' while the brain does its impossible act of contemplation.

I saw an Indian woman staring at the scene, face completely still and she had her hand raised to her mouth. As if to stop herself from speaking? Or to cover the fact that no words could come out in response to what she saw? I don't know. She looked shocked. I think I must have looked the same.

Students of Block 15.

Stories are strange, flimsy and inadequate things. They are mutable, shifting, mutating things.

Two nights ago in a bar here my friend told the story of how she narrowly escaped death in a taxi in India. On a narrow road with a bend where the taxi she was in was overtaking a lorry that was already overtaking another lorry and a third lorry came at them round the bend. No room for anyone to pass.

But somehow the collision that seemed so inevitable did not take place.

They survived.

R. said that afterwards, as the journey continued, her friend in the taxi asked her if she remembered what she had said as the collision nearly happened. R. did not remember, though she was sure that some words had sprung involuntarily from her mouth. Her friend told her that she had said this:

"OH. You have got to be fucking KIDDING me."

Dear Students of Block 15,

That story gave rise to another one. From someone else in the bar, but I won't tell you that one here.

You don't have to prepare anything for the few days we'll spend together. I'm sure I'll know what stories we want to tell each other when we can look into each others eyes.

I'm looking forward to it.

Tim Etchells.

Note: Tim will be visiting on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Vampires/The Undead (Jalal Toufic)

Week V: 15 - 19 October 2001

Vampires / The Undead

Instructor: Jalal Toufic

The week-long workshop on (Vampires) will tackle the major facets that vampire (and other undead) films and novels disclose to us about the state of undeath: labyrinthine time and space; doubles; the turning of the metaphorical into the literal; frequent complete freezings, ones that reveal the occasional normal immobilization of the living as merely a variety of movement; reality-as-filmic, with the consequence that although in most other films "nothing any longer happens to humans; it is to the image that everything happens" (Serge Daney), events still happen to the undead character since he or she is becoming a quasi-film image: the lapses in hypnosis, schizophrenia, and undeath, which permit editing in reality...

Excerpts from the Following Films:

Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula
Murnau's Nosferatu
Werner Herzog's Nosferatu
Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr
Bertolucci's The Spider's Stratagem
Godard's New Wave
Resnais/Robbe-Grillet's Last Year at Marienbad
David Blair's Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees
Alain Robbe-Grillet's L'Immortelle
Raul Ruiz's The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting
Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder
Karl Freund's The Mummy
Ingmar Bergman's Persona
Walerian Borowczyk's Immoral Tales
Mario Bava's Black Sabbath Black Sabbath
Abel Ferrara's The Addiction
Philip Ridley's The Reflecting Skin
The Brothers Quay's De Artificiali Perspectiva or Anamorphosis

Required Book:

Jalal Toufic, (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film. Station Hill Press, 1993.

Recommended Books:

Maurice Blanchot, Death Sentence. Trans. Lydia Davis. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1978.

Maurice, Blanchot, The Space of Literature. Trans. Ann Smock. University of Nebraska Press, 1982.

William Burroughs, The Western Lands. New York: Penguin, 1987.

Jacques Derrida, Aporias. Trans. Thomas Dutoit. Stanford University Press, 1993.

Stanislav Grof, Books of the Dead: Manuals for Living and Dying. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994.

Richard Noll, Vampires, Werewolves, and Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1992.

Doug Rice, Blood of Mugwump: A Tiresian Tale of Incest. Normal, Illinois: FC2, 1996.

Recommended Essays:

Gregory Whitehead, "Principia Schizophonica: on noise, gas, and the broadcast disembody," Art & Text, 37 (Summer 1990).

Steven Shaviro, "Romero's dead," in The Cinematic Body (University of Minnesota Press, 1993).

Dance in/and Film (Jalal Toufic)

Week VII: 29 October - 2 November 2001

Dance in/and Film

Instructor: Jalal Toufic

Through such films as Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, An American in Paris, The Tales of Hoffmann, The Red Shoes, A Study in Choreography for Camera, we will study the relation of dance, with its furtive discrete transportation of the dancer from one space-time to another, to cinema, this medium of sudden changes of places and focus (Walter Benjamin); the freezing of the dancers, which, as the genetic element of movement, allows all sorts of idiosyncratic movements (backward motion, slow-motion etc.); the fractal dimensions of the space of dance with its flat, painted backdrops and its zones of blank space-time whose outlines are traced by frozen dancers; space-creation by the dancer, who crosses to the other side of a mirror or a flat backdrop. (J.T.)

Dance Films:

Required Reading:

    Von Kleist, Heinrich. Sur le théâtre de marionnettes. Traduction par Jacques Outin. Éditions Mille et une nuits, 1993. (Online in english.)

    Toufic, Jalal, Over-Sensitivity. 1996. pp. 133-164. (To Merce Cunningham, whose dances totally stop my interior monologue.)

    Toufic, Jalal. Forthcoming. 2000. pp. 194-209. (The Dancer's Two Bodies.)

Recommended Books:

Recommended Articles:

    Virilio, Paul. Gravitational Space, interview with Laurence Louppe and Daniel Dobbels, trans. Brian Holmes, in Traces of Dance: Drawings and Notations of Choreographers, ed. Laurence Louppe (Paris: Editions DisVoir, 1994), pp. 35-60.

    Altman, Rick. The Style of the American Film Musical, in The American Film Musical. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Eternal Recurrence (Jalal Toufic)

Week VIII: 5 - 9 November 2001

(Information forthcoming.)

Perforators (Adrian Heathfield)

Title: Perforators

A three or ideally five day workshop leading to informal presentations.

Complementing the creative work that deals with the event of death and the presence of the material body this aspect of the block will take a step backwards from immediacy, to look at how the force of death is mediated and re-presented, particularly through testimony. Testimony arising from traumatic events is usually thought of and discussed in relation to the experiences of the victim-survivor. There is now a growing body of material arising from various different cultural conflicts concerning the statements and explanations of perpetrators of violent crimes. These testimonies are perhaps even more difficult for the reader/listener to encounter since they take us inside murderous logics, and reveal how the impulse towards violence and the fact of its existence for the perpetrator is accommodated within consciousness. Like victim testimonies perpetrator testimonies are full of gaps in the understanding of the speaking subject, however here the gaps are also constituted by moral and ideological slips, and by resilient logics, which give away the speakers own failure to accommodate the force and consequence of their actions.

The title 'Perforators' comes from the combination of the words performer and perpetrator. I want to look at the theatrics of perpetrator testimonies, and their affective force as performances of the self. I plan to deal with first hand source materials in text and video forms (possible sources include the South African TRC and the video confessions of Chilean and Argentinian perpetrators). I am interested in exploring the combination of three performance languages simultaneously; the language of the actual documentary footage re-played and hence re-staged in a live context, a heightened naturalism of performers who duplicate, select and collage aspects of these testimonies, and a choreographic language which relates to sensory memory, the memory suppressed through word and image. I would conduct exploratory workshops based on these materials and the potential of these performance languages, interlacing this work with materials derived from the performed/lived responses of the participants. Within the performance aesthetic of this work there will be a strong emphasis on banality and ordinariness, on the everyday, and the place of traumatic information within it. I am interested in the way that violence and its logic becomes a quiet background of lived experience in the safety of the West.

I would need two or three monitors and two or three dv cameras throughout the workshop.

ALAMUT.COM is artist owned and operated.
Page created: 3/9/01
Last modified: 9/11/01