A gallery performance. Performers are presented as gallery exhibits during their fifteen minutes long statements about their personal root of anger.
With a 15 minute statements on the personal source of anger performers presents themselves as gallery exhibits. The scenes are simultaneous and repeat six times. The viewer can watch each scene from beginning to end, choosing the order in which to watch them freely. Thus, similar to how one views a gallery exhibition, the viewers can create their own dramaturgy of the performance. In the last, seventh repetition, the performers switch places and appear as copies.
“The series of questions, reaching into the ontology of theatre and existence.”
(DELO LJUBLJLANA, 29.11.02)
“It is really a combination of performance and exhibition, the performers not only “stage” but also “exhibit” themselves as “themselves”.
(DNEVNIK LJUBLJANA 2.12.02)
“The audience is offered a sense of freedom and the possibility of choice. For these points alone the production is unusual and undoubtedly worth seeing.”
(FINANCE LJUBLJANA, 16.12.02)
Conceived and devised by the group
Performers: Iva Babić, Petra Govc (Barbara Kukovec), Primož Bezjak, Marko Mandić, Gaber Kristjan Trseglav, Grega Zorc.
Concept and direction: Bojan Jablanovec
Assistant: Nana Milčinski
Dramaturgy: Saša Helbel
Production manager Špela Trošt
Production: Via Negativa, 2002
Co-production: Kulturno društvo B-51, Ljubljana
Partner: Modern Gallery Ljubljana
Support: Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia
Premiere: 23 November 2002, Modern Gallery Ljubljana
Primož Jesenko: The Gallery Anti-path
An unpublished essay on Starting Point: Anger, Ljubljana 2003
Blaž Lukan: Who plays my role?
Delo Ljubljana, 29. November 2002
(…) The series of questions, reaching into the ontology of theatre and existence, is set out with theatrical articulation, clarity and unequivocalness. Except for the final scene (and perhaps the subtitle of the whole production – Starting point: Anger – which was used by the authors as an origin, but the realization then exceeded it) the production is distinguished by an identifiable outline, a clear point of view, the right amplitude of distanced humor at its own expense, a well considered balance between the rehearsed and the spontaneous, masterful timing and a friendly rapport with the audience. (…)
Marina Gržinić: Destruction
An excerpt from an essay Toward a new performativity and processuality, Maska Ljubljana, XVIII/2-3 (80-81), spring-summer 2003
The theme, form and time frame of Via Negativa are defined by the seven deadly sins (anger, sloth, lust, gluttony, avarice, envy, and pride). Each deadly sin is a task in which the actor exposes his or her “true self” by way of a public confession. Via Negativa’s first sin was performed at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, taking as scenography “any” current exhibition in the space. The result of performing the first sin, that is anger, was in my view, what is called in Internet jargon “spam”. Spamming is a process that deals with communication and the human/machine receiver; more precisely, it deals with the destruction of communication. Peter Luining, who is involved in spamming on the Internet, recently posted a message on a syndicate list with definitions of different gradations of spamming. Spamming is in Luining view connected with degrees of color: white, pink, red, brown, and black. The circulatory effect of the distribution of inner experiences in Via Negativa comes close to the definition of different levels of spamming. Spamming is a kind of peep show, but spamming seen through Via Negativa is a peep show on the side of the actor, and not from the side of the public.
White Spam is when messages look as if they were created by computer programs. The receiver (the public) has the feeling they are not dealing with a human; it is cold communication, but still communication. White Spam: Iva Babic, Marko Mandic. Iva Babic transforms her private life in a story of different brands that are used for the body. She is nothing more and nothing less than a body mapped by deodorants to shampoo brands etc. Each part of her body is possessed by one of the big corporate capitalist brands or products. Where does the self reside? A cold listing of brands! His tics and objects equally possess Marko Mandic: from chocolates to plastic bags. Pink Spam, however, is based on human output. Pink Spam gives the receiver the feeling that a real human is communicating, and that this is very personal. In the end, the sender always wants something from you, mostly money, of course, or as in Via Negativa, understandings. Barbara Kukovec’s story is a real human story. She is acting as if she was somebody else, a transfer of somebody else’s life – a nice avatar, but instead of dwelling in IRC chat rooms, she is here in flesh and blood. She is a serial automaton that asks for our understanding, while constantly producing confusion. The stories are like introspection in the formation of the self, but this introspection soon comes to visualize a regressive process, a regression that is connected to negativity, hence, perhaps, the title of Via Negativa.
Primoz Bezjak is the perfect Red Spam output. His story is a plea for a cause! He is a dancer, but with a malfunctioning knee that produces the martyred story of his life. A path from hospitals to rehabilitation centers is his real traumatic circulatory dance. Red Spam is about an activist pleading for a cause; Bezjak is here pleading for himself. Brown Spam is a simple message that targets human shortcomings, while Black spam does not communicate, but merely produces user breakdown; a good example is, via Luining, when we receive Chinese messages, but can’t read them, as we use different characters. The Black Spam is angry chaos and a line of signs: “S%ei///( ((())))===?. Gaber Kristjan Trseglav and Grega Zorc are in the situation to perform such actions from total miscommunication to the common paranoia of ways improving a proper life. Trseglav and Zorc explore the ways in which the “self” translates itself from memory to paranoia. The sign of the time we are leaving today is precisely this transfer from Johnny Mnemonic (visualized in the film by Robert Longo) to Johnny Panic (the title of Sandra Lahire’s last experimental film production, finished just before she died).
In this theater work, an array of characters joined together form a malfunctioning “gang” of identities. They slip out of the conventional with a terminal positioning of their status as actors. At the root is a mis-recognition of identity: monologues mixed with surreptitious glances to the audience. They directly address the audience and provoke them also in a humorous way, creating interactions, but the outcome is complete panic, no memory at all! The forces at work here are those between the audience and the theater: these actors suggest a societal and cultural transformation occurring outside modernist theater discourse. Jablanovec’s project explores the contours of an exhibition space whose definitions and possibilities are shifting. These spaces are screens for projections. The outcome is an eccentric projection that tries to expel the actor from the center of the play; this eccentricity is actually a method for de-centering the actor. The eccentricity of the role implies ex-centricity, while exploring the various dimensions of feedback and negativity of such positioning. Emotional movements and psychological journeys are doubled, tripled, and so on, within the spaces of the museum. Therefore, the question of language and its techniques are always a question of the interconnections between layers of different meanings.
Gregor Butala: Harmony of derivations
Dnevnik Ljubljana, 2. December 2002
(…) These mini-performances can stand on their own as well, not linked together by conceptual starting point or similarity of form; being installed in six neighbouring rooms, they paradoxically constitute the sense of integration, in spite of their seeming seclusion. The view sometimes catches more than one room and at once the sounds from other rooms blend, while the final repetition provides the interweaving, with performers changing their places along with their roles. (…)
Klemen Fele: Via negativa in Modern gallery
Finance Ljubljana, December 2002
(…) Exchanging the theatrical stage for an art gallery enlarges the customary theatrical code. It is about basic questions of the actor, being gradually exposed to the threat of its own character swallowing him up. And since the performers are presenting their own selves, it seems as if they escaped this danger. The objects used to put up their separate stories, are like traces bringing us back to the primal theatrical situation, to ritual. At the same time, the audience is offered a sense of freedom and the possibility of choice. For these points alone the production is unusual and undoubtedly worth seeing. (…)