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ABAX: a pas de deux with ‘the greatest art that is possible in the whole cosmos’

1. ‘Abax’ or ‘sand table’ uses sand for modelling or educational purposes. The original version of a sand table, the abax, was used by early Greek students. In the modern era, one common use for a sand table is to make terrain models for military planning and wargaming. It is also a common feature of children’s play-schools.

2. One of the most controversial comments made after 9/11 came from the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who told a journalist in Hamburg that the attack was ‘the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos’. His comments caused uproar in Germany, where the association of art with political violence obviously raises troubling historical specters. Whether or not Stockhausen was right to equate terrorism with art – and it would be disingenuous to deny the conceptual violence of his analogy, which he himself quickly recognized and sought to dampen – his comments point to an uncomfortable truth: for more than a century now, artists and terrorists have shared a common intention to produce reactions of shock in the spectator – in other words, to produce a spectacle.’ (Saul Anton, 2011)


ABAX: a pas de deux with ‘the greatest art that is possible in the whole cosmos’, conceived by Stephanie Felber and Alexandra Baybutt, is a series of choreographic events in different sites and formats (2021-2023). The rules of the game and choreographic scores are partially exposed in advance, and based upon Guy Debord and Alice Becker-Ho’s game ‘Game of War’. 

ABAX_deployment was presented at the Horsedonkey Club, vFd, Dalston, London, 25 November 2021. 

With text contributions from Mike Katell, Vidya Kumaraswamy, anonymous 1, anonymous 2, anonymous 3, Alexandra Baybutt, Stephanie Felber, Guy Debord & Alice Becker Ho.

ABAX as Aussichtsplattform (viewing platform) 

ABAX uses game structures to approach how training for something trains you back, and how the future unfolds messily but lucidly.
ABAX asks questions about the future. We are united in not knowing it, divided in how we anticipate it. Irrespective, we train for it through playing, through losing, through committing.

ABAX as Austiegsplattform (exit platform / epilogue)

Over the longue durée of a game that embodies all former and future games, we attempt to show how individuals and groups negotiate the challenges of anticipating the unknown and unknowable future.

ABAX_manoeuvre coming soon…

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