Arm Dance #1: Forgiveness

BFAMFAPHD / Vicky Virgin and Mauricio Vargas
2017, Video Performance

Based on the student loan terms in Susan Jahoda’s piece…in which nothing can finally be paid off, I have created Fine Print, a series of dance lecture demonstrations. The first, Forgiveness, explores how a word so closely tied to compassion could be co-opted as legalese to characterize debt. As if the idea of being forgiven implies the student has done something wrong.

The choreography utilizes a metronome that marks time for the arm movements of a team of 22 dancers who lie on the floor, on their backs. Their movements are precise and geometric, following an abstract bar chart signifying the conditions for debt forgiveness.  We learn, for example, that death is one of four eligibility requirements.

As student debt surpasses credit card debt in the U.S., some experts are referring to it as the next housing bubble.  “There has always been a fervent interest about how to profit off the pain of the student-loan market””. (NY Times, 2/2017, Investing in the Pain of Student Debt is Tough but Tempting Play). While hedge fund authorities speculate over the collapse of the student loan market, we don’t need to look far to see the toxicity of these loans: it’s written into the language of the agreements students sign.

Fine Print: #1 was filmed in a Brooklyn church gym now operating as Brooklyn Studios for Dance (BkSD). Labor was exchanged for use of the space at BkSD and I in turn bartered with dancers for their time.  No currency was exchanged in the creation of this piece.


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