On the agency of bodies fallen out of time

by Sandra Noeth

When looking at and experiencing situations of conflict and crisis – environmental calamities, post-war situations, so-called ‘low intensity’ conflicts or everyday scenes of indifference, carelessness and negligence – we can observe a specific kind of systemic, structural violence: a violence which is not directly perceivable and observable, which is often not immediate, difficult to repeat and imitate, to foresee and to time, a violence which challenges our representations, our words and movements. A violence which witnesses to the time and the movement of that which seems to be motionless (see: G. Deleuze, Pourparlers). This kind of violence is gradual, plane, creeping, silent and unfolding in the very entanglement of different spaces, dimensions and times.

The paper takes interest in this very temporality and its conditions and asks in which way it affects and effects the body: what are the bodies emerging in and through this timely constellation? What kind of temporal and spatial strategies do they allow, call for and aesthetisize? How can we grasp the emerging, the moment of touch where concepts and experiences of presence, past and future fall into one another?

In dialogue with selected artistic works and case studies of bodies in conflict, I would like to argue that the timely dimension of systemic violence describes, produces and helps emerge expanded, projected, suspended, absent, suspicious, hesitating, lazy bodies, bodies in repetition, suspended between action and reaction, response and responsibility. In the following, I propose to read those bodies that seem to have fallen out of time as an invitation to critically re-think our individual and collective capacity for action.


Since 2015 Sandra Noeth is a member of the research group Loose Couplings: Collectivity at the Intersection of Digital and Urban Space at the University of Hamburg. 2009-14 she was Head of Dramaturgy and Research at Tanzquartier Wien where she developed a series of research-based presentation and publication projects on concepts and practices of protest, religion, responsibility and integrity in relation to the body. Since 2012, she is a Senior Lecturer and Member of the Artistic Committee at the MA Choreography at DOCH/Stockholm University of the Arts; 2006-09 she was an Associate Researcher at the Department for Human Movement Studies/Centre for Performance Studies at the University of Hamburg. Sandra is internationally active as a curator and dramaturge. As an educator she works on dramaturgy for dance and choreography, ethical and political perspectives on body practice and theory as well as non-Western movement and dance cultures, a.o. at the Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin, Academy for Music and Dance Frankfurt a.M., and ashkal alwan Beirut where she holds a Resident Professorship in the 2015/16 Home Workspace Program. Sandra is a Member of the Jury of the German Dance Platform 2016 and an Associated Researcher to the International Dance Congress 2016.