Tango Panopticon

A Worldwide Sensual Incursion on Video Surveillance


Let me put this event into context. I am a tanguero (since 1998), but I am also an artist by profession. I am producing a series of conceptual art performances around the world that involve Argentine Tango. This project series is called "Tango Intervention". It involves dancing tango where tango is not expected. In the public realm this acts as a gentle intervention, a brief sensual interruption of the normal business of life. It surprises people and generally leaves them with a smile. I ask for nothing from the public, and the only thing I give (other than the joy of tango) is the web address of this site.

On the web the performance is re-contextualized in a critical framework relative to the history/culture of the specific geographic place where the dance takes place, and also related to the history/culture of tango. However, on the street it is really just a milonga, an exhilarating dance party in an exciting location. In this way the project has two very different sides, one on the street that is a sensual celebration, and one on the web that is a social enquiry that is often political. Tango Intervention is multifaceted like tango. Tango Intervention can be appreciated and enjoyed on whatever level it is encountered.

Tango Panopticon 2.0 will be similar in that the dance interventions will essentially be beautiful milongas in completely unexpected places, each a perfect sensuous celebration of spring, with nothing overtly, or even remotely, political about it really. The web site will point out that each Tango Panopticon event is taking place in an area that is being monitored by government or private surveillance cameras that now are so extensive as to cover all or portions of all city blocks in most metropolitan areas, as well as unexpected places such as parks, bridges, transit facilities...the list goes on and on. We will also be able to stream live video from all of the Panopticon locations to the Tango Panopticon 2.0 Live Page. This can be done by anyone using smart phones loaded with Bambuser's free software and filling out our very short registration form.

So what is this surveillance aspect about? As the product of immigrant culture Tango has a history tangled in issues of labor, identity, and the struggle for individual expression and rights. In many ways this beautiful dance that we love is a manifestation of that struggle at the same time that it is a profound and intimate communication between two people (who are not all likely to be thinking anything even remotely political). This event, like all Tango Interventions, gets at this dual nature of tango. Tango Panopticon is an international affirmation of individual rights in a world increasingly monitored by unseen government and corporate powers, and Tango Panopticon is a worldwide dance party celebrating the sensuous.

Since 2007 I have organized dozens of Tango Interventions, most recently in Phnom Penh, Washington DC, New York City, and Vienna. They all went very well and were great fun for the participants and for the public. Tango Panopticon was a radically new structure for Tango Intervention in that it occurred in multiple locations on May 1, 2009. I was not present to facilitate, however participating was not difficult, and events were largely self-organized in 15 cities around the world that day.

Tango Panopticon 2.0 on May 1, 2010 will be similar in many ways, and participation is easy, open to all, and completely free. In the simplest sense it is a matter of finding a public place where you would like to dance for a song, or a tanda, or an hour or two. Any location is acceptable as long as it is surveilled by cameras. Most public gathering places are these days. It is essential that you make sure that the tango intervention can be done with complete safety for the participants and for the public. Everything else is a matter of simple details which this website will help with. I have posted some of these considerations in links from this page, and more details will be forthcoming. I will be available for questions and consultations for participants from this day until the end of event.

Now that you know a bit about Tango Panopticon click the link below to learn more about how you can Participate.

The action...PARTICIPATE!

About the open source video streaming interface

You can also click here to go to the about page to get more information about the whole Tango Intervention series and what it might mean for you.

Tango is a practice already ready for struggle. It knows about taking sides, positions, risks. It has the experience of domination/resistance from within. Tango, stretching the colonized stereotypes of the latino-macho-Catholic fatalism, is a language of decolonization. So, pick and choose. Improvise. Hide away. Run after them. Stay still. Move at an astonishing speed. Shut up. Scream a rumor. Turn around. Go back without returning. Upside down. Let your feet do the thinking. Be comfortable in your restlessness. Tango.- Marta E. SaviglianoTango and the Political Economy of Passion