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Posts from the ‘Iulia Popovici’ Category

Also to be discussed – presentations of Sanja Mitrovic and Gabriele Reuter

Iulia Popovici

Once upon a time there was a happy country called Yugoslavia. Really, it was happy, not because even the trees joyfully spelled the name of the leader Tito but because people were happy, even those pictured on the 100 dinars bill. Then the country stopped being happy – until its citizens (fewer now, since the country had become smaller) gathered again on the bridges of the capital, to save it from bombing. In Will you ever be happy again?, the Serbian-born artist Sanja Mitrovic and the German Jochen Stechmann star a performance about how the international perception of national identity marks the personal construction of the self, putting in a mirror their own experiences. The result is ironic without being bluntly critical and touching without being sentimental – equilibrium very difficult to reach when talking about the innocent bystanders of recent past. Read more
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Urban Fighting – Urban Loving

Iulia Popovici

It’s so entertaining. So unbelievably funny. So physically challenging. So powerful. Even if there isn’t much to think about in this revelation of what the human body can do.

Still Standing You by and with Pieter Ampe and Guilherme Garrido is, in fact, a follow-up – in this piece, the Belgian graduated student of P.A.R.T.S. and the Portuguese performer he met in danceWeb get together in the same formula they did three years ago, with Still Difficult Duet: a one-to-one struggle for power and love in the world of Alpha-males, with no other weapon but their own bodies. With no story and hardly any metaphors.

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An Essay on Invisibility

Iulia Popovici

(since I’m feeling so guilty for missing today, here you are a text about the Rimini Protokoll performance I saw a week ago; be as critical as you like)

Abdulah (Mr. Dağaçar), Aziz, Mithat and Bayram are experts. They have very precise working hours, they know everything about the object of their activity; they are the best in their field for expertise.

Abdulah, Aziz, Mithat and Bayram are professionals. Experts in trash. Some would call (and are calling) them scavengers. Every day, they cross the Turkish capital with their self-made sort of carriages, in search for recyclable „left-overs“ – paper, cardboards, plastic, aluminum (a nice word for mainly Coca-Cola and Fanta cans). They are the invisible people. Read more

The Good, the Bad and the Happiness

Iulia Popovici

Synopsis: a performance about childhood and how “the good” becomes “the bad” as the history turns around. An ironic history:Will You Ever Be Happy Again? had its world premiere in Belgrade, at the BITEF Festival. While working at this performance (in 2008), Sanja Mitrovic became a Dutch citizen, and she had to give up her Serbian nationality.

Once upon a time there was a happy country called Yugoslavia. Really, it was happy, not because even the trees joyfully spelled the name of the leader Tito but because people were happy, even those pictured on the 100 dinars bill. Then the country stopped being happy – until its citizens (fewer now, since the country had become smaller) gathered again on the bridges of the capital, to save it from bombing. Rewind: the Serbian-born dancer/choreographer/director Sanja Mitrovic and the German Jochen Stechmann star a 75 minutes performance (in both Serbian and German) about how the international perception of national identity marks the personal construction of the self, putting in a mirror their own experiences. The Nazi Ahnenpass (certificate of ancestry) of the Stechmann family and little Sanja’s schoolbook from the ‘80s have an equal weight in the subjective spectacle of memory. The result has nothing to do with another semi-digested story about the tragedies of the war in former Yugoslavia, the “German guilt” or the so much commented “Östalgie”. It’s ironic without being bluntly critical; it’s touching without being sentimental – equilibrium very difficult to reach when talking about the innocent bystanders of recent past.

Staging it as a loose children’s game (on the repeating model of “partisans against Germans” – the local form of an otherwise universal patriotic re-enactment of a more or less imaginary glorious history), Sanja Mitrovic rediscovers in Will you ever…the immense theatricality of objects (from photographs and Tito’s statuette, to passports), of ideologically framed movement (as in the performative reconsideration of the choreography of communist mass gatherings), of music as cultural icon (Serbian pop hits). Jochen Stechmann’s merry appearance and Sanja Mitrovic’s self-contained performance make them remember together, in a sort ofcadavre esquis, what they cannot let go of their past as members of a certain community.

 

Fast-forward: And, of course, famous football matches always become the ideal background for going back to the roots, in a hectic choir of national pride and sense of belonging to a community.

Mary Wigman’s Coming Back

Iulia Popovici

Her real name was Marie Wiegmann. She was a dance goddess of the twentieth century. Dance histories of the period consider her the most important expressionist choreographer and put her on the same footstall next to Laban and Isadora Duncan. Mary Wigman is a legend – and, since no still living man witnessed her original performances, they also linger in the realm of legendary.

Nobody really knows what made Mary Wigman’s dance works so striking innovative and emotionally strong. We all trust the books we read, the poor quality black and white videos and, of course, the legend. Or not.

In A Mary Wigman Dance Evening, the young Ecuadorian dancer and choreographer Fabián Barba revisits the artist’s 1930 tour to the United States, re-enacting nine of her solos from three different series, “Celebration”, “Visions”, and “Swinging Landscape”, dated 1926, 1927 and 1929. He worked with every existing source: video recordings, still photographs, reports, reviews, biographical and critical material and Wigman’s own texts. He does it in the context of a dancer never actually interested in her personal posterity (unlike Laban, Wigman didn’t “produce” a technique) – and Barba’s archeological endeavor is more than remarkable. He tries to reproduce everything: from the hand program, the lighting, the intermission music, and the fabric of the costumes, to the actual attitude, movement, dancer’s gaze and muscular tense (including her elegant bows in front of the audience). He turns Mary Wigman’s 2D, black and white recordings into Mary Wigman in colors and 3D.

Or, again, not. Again and again, dance proves to be not about movement in general but about one particular body in movement. Some of Wigman’s solos (as those belonging to the “Visions” series) put into movement what she called the Gestalt, a genderless figure whose costume and dancing pattern make abstraction of the gender/ feminine particularities of the body on stage. It is a choreographic form that allows, inside its own original structure, the 26-year-old man to replace, in re-enacting, the 40-something-year-old woman performing almost a century ago. But in many other moments – the bows included – Fabián Barba’s body can only give a glimpse, or not even that, of what Mary Wigman moving body (more than the dances themselves) could have looked like. More than about postures, technique or cultural inheritance, A Mary Wigman Dance Evening seems to be talking about the uniqueness of the body in movement.

Visiting history has, as always, its ups and downs.

Failing the invisible theatre

Iulia Popovici

Istanbul Sapphire is a residential building in the heart of the city’s business area. A block of flats. It’s high – “the highest residential building in Turkey and in the whole Europe” (it has 54 floors), covered in glass, remarkably ugly and equally expensive. It’s a future gated community, where the owners will have exclusive access. Only potential buyers are allowed inside, to visit some of the common areas, the furnished model apartment on the 33rd floor and the terrace on the top of the building. So two artists – Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel, both living and working mainly in Germany – decided that the audience to their newest project, Live and Strive, should assume the role of potential buyers in order to have access to Istanbul Sapphire – and a number of other upper class residential projects, as a matter of fact.

The real-estate agent doesn’t know who these seven (eight?) people are. We know the situation is not genuine, we know we are performing roles. It could be the ideal condition for a performance of invisible theatre (a form of socially-engaged theatre developed by the late Augusto Boal, meant to emulate reality in order to raise consciousness towards social inequities) except for the fact that the participants are not professional actors, there is no script and no consciousness involved. (But yes, there was a moral/ ethical issue: why misleading the otherwise honest real-estate agent? Just to expose the secret life of rich people?) Even if the potential of the theme is quite generous: living in a building like Istanbul Sapphire resembles to waking up, every day, in a jar (a 1.2 to 7.3 million dollars per apartment jar), with the perspective of never leaving it, going in your slippers 30 floors downstairs in order to spend your evening in front of a TV with other several bored nouveaux riches and socializing with the guy bringing you the food ordered from the restaurant some other 30 floors below. The newest technology and a pointless existence – in his movies, Jacques Tati described it better than anyone else.

If the text you’ve just read looks more like a society column in a more or less socialist-liberal newspaper, it’s because the Live and Strive experience of the author herself was least of all a performative one. But maybe ethical challenges are part of everybody’s personal dramaturgy of the self.