Born 1983 in Sydney, Australia Lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Los Angeles, USA

Adam Linder creates dance works for the theatre, and ‘Choreographic Services’, which can be hired by the hour and are not bound to one context. With this second format, Linder examines the necessity for choreography to be both ‘at work’ and publicly effective – problematising the institutional and economic aspects of performance in the process.

The 20th Biennale of Sydney has hired the second of Linder’s Choreographic Services, where two dancers and an arts writer are commissioned to transform critical reflections on a given environment into choreographic embodiment. Taking place over five days in March, in an interstitial space at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the context for Some Proximity is at once public and institutional. Linder and a second dancer, Justin Kennedy, direct one another in a series of movements, while reading aloud from a script composed by a writer, which describes and responds to the context within which they are all situated in near real-time. Clad in utilitarian coveralls, Linder and Kennedy speak and dance the text, the virtuosity of their gliding movements in sharp contrast with the critical tone of the written document, which acts as both an impetus for the work and a record. The gestures of Some Proximity reflect on and are contained within the prescriptive conditions of its presentation, just as its form is shaped by the social architecture of the setting in which it takes place.

Linder has described how his Choreographic Services establish the rules of engagement: ‘…they protect the work from unbridled attention – they move the live activity away from eventhood. The complications of showing “ephemeral” work in environments where objects are worshipped are in a sense sewn into the conceptual premise of the Services.’[1] At their heart, these works are a direct response to the increasing inclusion of live performance, and specifically dance, within object-based art contexts and economies, and as a regular part of programming at galleries and museums.

Dance serves as a framework and a platform, a practice, and a means with which to draw attention to the double meaning of the word ‘performance’ – as an element in the arts associated with ‘liveness’, and a reference to economic productivity. In the process of delivering his service, Linder reveals how such work appears caught between contradictory impulses: apparently resisting the overwhelming commercialisation of the object-based art world, it is at the same time a ‘perfect product’ of an immaterial experience economy, where memory itself is a commodity to be consumed, like any other. By combining the physical language of dance with discourses around labour, Linder’s service-oriented actions shift how we think about the politics of the performing body – as a site of knowledge, history and exchange.

[1] Cited in David Everitt Howe, ‘Dance in the ruins’, Mousse Magazine, issue 50, 2015.