FOR THE REAL
Performance essay. A performative travel through strategies (2002 -2008) that Via Negativa has developed to establish the relationship with its audience.
One of the major characteristics of 20th century is a passion for the real, says Alain Badiou in his collection of lectures entitled 20th Century. That’s why “this art wants to show its own process, to idealize its reality so visually (and) proposes such artistic gestures, which were impossible before – to present as art something that was before considered only as its own drags (…) But passion for the real necessary means doubt too. Nothing can prove, that real is actually real, except the system of fiction where it can play the role of the real.” That’s why the theatre is the medium where we hunt the real with the biggest passion.
Frame for Hunt for the real is an essay entitled Erasing the Audience by Blaž Lukan PhD. In his lecture he takes a stroll through strategies that Via Negativa has developed to establish the relationship with its audience. It consists of the following chapters: Viewing Itinerary (Starting Point Anger, 2002), Viewer As Accomplice (More, 2003), Performative Economy (Incasso, 2004), Game Of Conditionals (Would Would Not, 2005), Viewer Seduction (Viva Verdi, 2006; Not Like Me, 2007), Death In Viewers’ Lap (Four Deaths, 2007), Viewer As Leftover (Out, 2008). By analyzing these strategies the lecturer launches a series of performers’ demonstrations that put him in the centre of the effects he talks about. The theory cannot avoid “getting its hands dirty with practice”. The audience finds itself in a dual role: the lecturer addresses it as his student, and the performer as his viewer.
Concept and direction of the presentation: Bojan Jablanovec
Essay written by Blaž Lukan (integral essay Erasing the Audience is published in the book THE NO, Via Negativa 2002 – 2008, Transformacije, Maska Ljubljana, 2010), adapted and presented as a lecture by Bojan Jablanovec
Performers: Katarina Stegnar, Grega Zorc, Boris Kadin, Kristian Al Droubi, Barbara Kukovec, Uroš Kaurin (the cast may vary)
Producer: Špela Trošt
Technical director: Igor Remeta
Production: Via Nova performances produced by Via Negativa and supported by Ministry of Culture of RS and the City of Ljubljana. Hunt for the real as a part of the project Via Nova via FFT Düsseldorf was produced by FFT Düsseldorf and supported by Kunststiftung NRW as a part of “Exposed – Grenzen der Schaulust.”
Venue and date: FFT Juta Düsseldorf, 17 November 2010 as part of Via FFT Düsseldorf program (pdf)
Duration: 2 hours
Thomas Hag: With the Entire Body
DerWesten Dusseldorf, 18. november 2010
Düsseldorf. Pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth – seven deadly sins which have enthralled Via Negativa, an art group from Ljubljana (Slovenia). Collectively they are forging a space which incites subversive artistic practices. A group of musicians calling themselves ‘Laibach’, the old name for the city of Ljubljana, would provoke its public with pseudo-mystical symbols. The Via Negativa group of performers on the other hand operates within a wide-ranging field of performing arts and theatre, sparing no one, neither themselves nor their bodies nor their audience.
Currently in Düsseldorf, they are presenting their work in three parts: on Wednesday they provoked their audience in FFT-Juta and promise to do the same on Friday in Kunsthalle and on Sunday in FFT Kammerspielen. ‘Provoke’ may not be the right word. The scene in which a member of the ensemble is sticking pieces of chocolate inside her trousers might be categorized as mild defiance. Stuffing beetroot into trouser pockets of her partner is amusing even, but not as funny as the shoes another performer makes out of bread. True, the performers of Via Negativa transgress boundaries and like to test their relationship with the audience, but, ultimately, they want to be likeable.
The first part of their trilogy is called ‘Reality Chase’, and was not staged in FFT- Juta, but in the former Black Box cinema venue. If you are perplexed at the beginning of the performance when an overview of their past work is being given, what use the bucket and a mop in the corner might be put to, the splashing in beetroot juice on the stage soon give it away. There are other things to be mopped up too. A performer clad in a golden outfit and with a clown-like makeup is taking lessons in drinking beer to then relieve himself in a plastic bottle and drinking up the contents, thereby turning himself into a ‘golden fountain’. Nervous titter on the part of the audience. But in the context of art the demand for attention inherent in such a repugnant act acquires at the same time an almost touching quality.
Nonetheless, we should not allow ourselves to be misled. Via Negativa is a highly intelligent setup that distances itself from the postmodern conceptual structures, forever disrupting the spectator’s ordinary way of seeing, and doing so with a strong, albeit at times insidious, sense of humor. Also when Katarina Stegnar, with her strong presence, is selling a bloodied, elegantly framed, bank note, or when for example Pina Bausch is smoking her last cigarette, nestling in the lap of one of the spectators.