Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Process-Based Aesthetics In a Product-Based World: Somatic Awareness as a Critical Lens on Art-Making and Money-Making in the Modern West
by Galin, Nina, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2012, 317; 3544728
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation I propose somatic awareness as a tool for critical thinking about making art and making money. Focusing on the educational and therapeutic praxes of F.M. Alexander, Ida Rolf and Peter Levine, I explore somatic awareness as an element of scholarly engagement with some of the complex personal and social issues that arise from tensions between art and money in contemporary western culture. I argue that somatic education and therapies may be fruitfully analyzed as aesthetic activity. I look critically at these somatic praxes, drawing on the post-marxist and post-structuralist works of Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton. Following them I argue that art is more aptly described as a process than an object. I situate my work in the context of contemporary dance, theater and performance studies, emphasizing dynamic art practices rather than static works.

By somatic awareness, I mean initial direction of awareness to physical sensation, especially pressure or weight; then to mental or emotional response to sensation, then back to (changing) sensation, and so on. The subjective information gathered from noticing the dynamic interrelationships of physical, mental, emotional and aesthetic/spiritual is "somatic". I explore a connection between the Marxist idea of alienation and the psycho-physiological experience of trauma, as theorized by Peter Levine.

I present case studies of three aesthetic productions in the U.S., each of which uses an approach that emphasizes somatic awareness. The case studies show a range of approaches to engaging with structural racism, violence, and inequities in access to aesthetic (artistic and somatic) resources. Each case study negotiates between process-based ("ecological") and product-based ("commodity") economic systems. Chapter 1 looks at the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange's 2004 Hallelujah Project in Los Angeles. Chapter 2 looks at Things of the World, a movement-theater solo I created in 2009-10 for my master's thesis in choreography. Chapter 3 looks at my practice of public professional somatic education at the Santa Rosa Community Market in northern California from 2008-2011. Participants in each aesthetic project must risk (personal and social) change to create economic, social and spiritual value.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hunter, Lynette
Commitee: Krimmer, Elisabeth, Riley, Shannon R.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Performance Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Dance, Theater, Cognitive psychology, Theater Studies, Aesthetics, Health education
Keywords: Aesthetics and politics, Dance, Performance, Somatics, Somatics and politics, Whiteness
Publication Number: 3544728
ISBN: 9781267758859
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