Ann-Sofie Öman on Yearning for Presence: The Live Body in History

It's seldom that you get first class drama and almost incomprehensible theoretical discussions about the meaning of a single word at the same occasion, but yesterdays lecture at the Škuc Gallery provided the crowd (yes, it was jammed) with both. Considering the fact that the drama and the discussion, sorry discourse, both took place surrounded by an exhibition by a visual artist, Milijana Baabič, where the artist is showing, with the help of videos, newspaper pages, printed messages on paper etc., how she for a while had to/tried to/intentionally chose to support herself as a cleaning lady, distributor of printed commercials, selling roses and so on, it's starting to get a little absurd. There is a huge gap between the work of a cleaning lady and Derrida.

But there is a link between the drama, the discourse and the exhibition: the art of performance and the presence of the artist in the performance.

Both the lecturer and the woman artist behind the exhibition were present in the traditional sense of the word, as was the man who caused the drama.

Whether the exhibition is a performance with a present artist, as the artist is not present all the time at the exhibition and she is not performing while she is there - if she is there at all - although she is present through the videos recorded while she is performing, is another question. That question was not solved during the lecture, and that was the main focus of the discourse: What is presence?

But the lecture yesterday was still quite a performance. With a lot of people present.


-Ann-Sofie Öman
Covering the City of Women Festival for the Swedish magazine Danstidningen