Jon Refsdal Moe – On cigaretts and other stuff

It’s 7 pm on March 7th, 2017. I have poured myself a little glass of Swedish vodka to get my buzz going enough to get inspired. Also, I am listening to Swedish music, the Drottningholm Baroque Orchestra plays Johann Helmich Roman’s Musique satt til en festin hos Ryska Ministern Gref Golovin on Spotify. The simple fact that Sweden has Baroque composers fills me with some awe, as I guess it speaks volumes of the differences between our cultures. We do not have a Baroque Orchestra at the Royal Castle. We do have the King’s Guard’s Marching Band, but it would probably not provide the necessary backdrop for a text on the current state, future or possible end of contemporary performance, as I imagine it to be my assignment to produce. I will write one thousand words around this topic.

As you can see I have also decided to write this in International Art English, although most of you would understand it if I wrote in my own language. I guess you Swedes do not have the same romantic ideas about language as Norwegians, probably because you have Baroque composers and the confidence that comes with it.  So consider this as a gesture ofcomme il faut. But enough fraternization, you have invited me to write whatever I would like and all I offer you are scandi-jokes. Its probably the vodka that I had to keep me focused, chilled with pink plastic elephants that someone brought home sometime in the 80s probably, but which instead made my mind wander off in all directions. During the 90 minutes I have spent writing I have marketed an event I host with Zachary Oberzan in Oslo, made myself a grilled cheese sandwich, posted three rap songs to and watched a live stream with British internet celebrity Rob Pursey, whom I met on Saturday in a very small and sweaty basement club called Paul’s Boutique in Oslo. I usually don’t go to basement clubs like that, as the expectation that I dance gives me social claustrophobia, the atmosphere in there was fantastic and I felt like the old douche in the corner that I probably was, never being able to join the party because I absolutely didn’t want to join the party, or even if I did, which I did of course – who am I trying to fool here – I would not be able to as my body would freeze up, as I would become so self conscious that I if I absolutely had no chance of escape, would close my eyes hard and make some combination of extremely introvert and overstatedly explicit moves that would probably make me look like a freak although my intention would be to show you that I get the joke, that I am aware of the fact that it simply is not possible for me to dance although I dance, so I’d rather lean up in the corner and feel the damp walls with the palms of my hands or go outside to smoke a cigarette which would make me have to stand in line for one hour to get in again, as kids these days don’t even smoke to overcome their social anxieties, I have been smoking so many cigarettes for precisely that reason that cancer, if it ever does me in, would probably have been cured by my overcoming social fears and inhibitions. But my fears and inhibitions are what constitute me as a person, and I cannot easily let go of them without also letting go of what has made me who I am today, which may not amount to much, but which at least got me invted to write this piece, meaning that my presence here and now, in this text and in this end fest, is legitimized by my social inhibitions, by the fact that I cannot participate in any type of activity that involves ritualization of bodily movement, that I cannot take part in any ritualized collective behavior at all, if I feel that such behavior in any way threatens my individuality, which I usually do feel, which means that going to the theater is a complex but also an immensely rewarding experience, as it offers me the option of non-participation.

I say the theater but I do not mean theater exclusively as an art form, I mean any venue in which any type of performing art is presented for an audience, and which lets me take part in that audience, and in doing so offers me the opportunity to take a step back from my existence, to cancel out all my sociopolitical or biopolitical or sexopolitical or conceptupolitical or metaphysicopolitcal commitments if only for a short period of time and as such lets me exist as an individual – as the indivisusor the undivided that I am not. It is a fragile contract, and it should not be breached although the possibilty of breaching it is what consitutes it, and is what constitutes this art that we share. Any contract would be meaningless if it weren’t just as easy to breach it as to uphold it. The theater would be meaningless if it weren’t just as possible for me to walk onto the stage and wave my dick around as it would be to keep quiet in my seat and leave that waving to some other dude. And I guess it is this fragility I’m after, whether I’m in a damp and jam packed basement club, which is a pretty rare experience for me, or in an arts space where some type of performance is going on (which happens fairly often). I am looking for a fragile space in which it would be just as logical to throw my body into the fight or into the eye of the hurricane or to take part in the sacred dance or wave my dick around or simply join the party, but on the other hand leaves me alone when I prefer not to.

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