I will look at two essays by Agamben published in the early ‘90s that centre on the term ‘gesture.’ Kommerell, or On Gesture (1991) and Notes on Gesture (1992) are both based on what appear to be the same set of notes, with duplicate passages in both texts, however the overriding subject matter changes in each case. The former discusses the writings of the German literary critic Max Kommerell and his relationship to the circle of Stefan George. Gesture in this case is discussed in a literary setting. The latter is a less polished set of notes outlining the development of the scientific study of gesture and the role cinema would play in its understanding, beginning with Gilles de la Tourette and touching in only a few pages on Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, Deleuze’s theory of cinema, Aristotle, Edward Muybridge and a number of other writers.
This series will look at a central aspect of Tino Sehgal’s practice – the coupled concepts of production and deproduction. The artist proposes these two, simultaneous activities as presenting a new economics of production, opposing current social and traditional artistic practices. This activity suggests an aspect of immateriality within the work which has been likened to Giorgio Agamben’s ‘gesture’ (Bishop, 2005) in that it opposes means and ends with a renewed emphasis on a state in between, not as an end in itself nor as a method of becoming, but as an “endurance and the exhibition of the media character of corporal movement” which Agamben calls “mediality.” (Agamben, 1992, p. 57)
In the next post I’ll start by looking at gesture from the point of view of Agamben’s writings on the subject, then take an overview of Sehgal’s work and the issues arising from it. Following this I’ll attempt to link gesture with the work’s issues and discuss the benefits of such a concept to Sehgal’s work and what implications this may have.