Conversation #4:

Notes on Agency - Dance in the Museum 

Image by gilber franco

Although dance in the museum is a widely discussed and visible practice in the 21st century, with museums showing the work of choreographers and dancers in gallery and museum spaces, the focus is often on particular forms of dance, rooted in the American and European neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s/70s and 1990s. What are the next steps, and how can "dance in the museum" become a more inclusive and encompassing practice? In addition, if dance in the museum revolves around merging paradigms of display, spectatorship, and materiality, how can we discuss the notion of "agency" in more detailed terms; agency of the artists in relation to the museum (what are the limits and conditions?), agency of dancers and performers (as bodies moving in an at times unaccommodating space; and in relation to the artist-choreographer>), and agency of the audience (beyond practices of participation)?


Hendrik Folkerts, Moderator, is the Dittmer Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He studied Art History at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in contemporary art and theory, feminist practices and contemporary curatorial practices. Prior to his position at the Art Institute of Chicago, Folkerts was curator at documenta 14 from 2014 until 2017 andFrom 2010 until 2015, he was Curator of Performance, Film & Discursive Programmes at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and co-ordinator of the Curatorial Programme at De Appel arts centre in Amsterdam from 2009 until 2011.


Elisabeth Lebovici (PhD in Aesthetics), has been the chief editor of Beaux-arts Magazine and, during 15 years, an arts and culture editor for the daily newspaper Libération. Since 2006, she writes a blog: An AIDS activist, Elisabeth was the inaugural president of the Paris LGBT film festival, and is currently a founding member of the LIG/ »Lesbians of General Interest » fund She has been involved since the 1990’s into writing and lecturing on feminism, activism, queer politics and contemporary arts. In 1998, she edited « L’Intime » (Paris, ensb-a). She is the author, together with Catherine Gonnard, of a history of women artists in France between 1880 and nowadays :  « Femmes/artistes, Artistes/femmes, Paris de 1880 à nos jours (Paris, Hazan, 2007).  With Catherine Gonnard, she is currently involved in a research on lesbian culture in the francophone media in the 1950’s-1960’s. Her latest book : « What AIDS Has Done To Me . Art and Activism at the End of the 20th C »,(Ce que le sida m’a fait. Art et Activisme à la fin du 20è siècle. Zurich : JRP Ringier, « lectures Maison Rouge » 2017) has received the Prix Pierre Daix 2017 in art history. Elisabeth cocurates (with Patricia Falguières and Natasa Petresin-Bachelez) a weekly seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris titled: « Something You Should Know :Artists and Producers ».


January Parkos Arnall is curator of Public Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She holds a PhD in cultural studies and museum theory from Claremont Graduate University, an MFA in photography with emphasis in art history from Temple University, and a BFA in fine art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 2013 until 2017, she oversaw public engagement, developed exhibition-related programs, and was on the curatorial team for exhibitions and residencies at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.


Mlondi Zondi, PhD candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Mlondolozi “Mlondi” Zondi is a movement artist with an interest in dance dramaturgy, curatorial practice, and pedagogy. Mlondi’s dissertation focuses on contemporary Black performance and visual art engagements with death and corporeal integrity. Using Afro-Pessimism and other aspects of the Black radical tradition, the research probes the relationship between black ontology and the ontology of performance. Mlondi received an MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine and a BA (Hons) in Cultural Studies and Performance Studies from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.