Emily Gastineau

Emily Gastineau

DAS Choreography

My research centres on the politics and poetics of spectatorship, through choreography that intervenes in conventional modes of watching performance. I consider ‘viewing’ within the context of neoliberalism: how the financialization of life determines our embodied experience, qualities of attention, experience of duration, valuation of labour and beliefs about what art can do. My recent work has used pseudo-empirical formats to track the theatrical conventions of entertainment and the limits of endurance for performer and audience.
My current solo work investigates the status of affect and emotional expression within dance, when both have been critiqued and recuperated ad nauseam. What makes a viewer read emotional expression into an action, and is the appearance of the personal something humiliating or empowering? I am curious how subjectivity and desire arise in the relation between performer and audience – when both are deployed towards capitalist ends, but are still considered omnipresent and cheap. Do we value authenticity, or view expression as gimmicky, involuntary, or otherwise ‘not art’? How can the performance of affect be manipulated (by the performer), or manipulative (to the viewer)?

I will track the subtle exchanges of power between performer and audience, and devise mechanisms to shift these relationships in real time. Thinking alongside feminist writing that straddles autobiography, fiction and theory, my research asks: Is dance always or never in the first person? Why is there such pleasure in catharsis and the witnessing of confession, and what is created when that desire is left unfulfilled? If I press against the theatrical conventions around identity, affect, and relation to audience, can I create new modes of spectatorship?

Emily Gastineau (US, 1987) is a Minneapolis-based artist who investigates contemporary spectatorship through choreography, performance, writing, and organizing. As part of the performance duo Fire Drill, her collaborative work with Billy Mullaney has been curated and presented in Minneapolis, St. Paul, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Portland and San Francisco. Their latest project was commissioned by the Cowles Center in partnership with the Walker Art Center and Southern Theater as part of Momentum: New Dance Works. Emily is the recipient of grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She cofounded the performance writing platform Criticism Exchange, and produces programmes and publications for Mn Artists and the Walker Art Center.


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