19. Platforma HR, Zagreb, 18. – 26. svibnja 2018.: Studio za suvremeni ples, Zagreb (u suradnji s Cie Public in Private), Ansambl, autorica Jasna L. Vinovrški;
Sedam je sveti, znakovit, mistični broj, u različitim religijama i mitologijama simbol neke dinamične sveukupnosti; poput sedam duginih boja i sedam nota dijatonske ljestvice, sedam stupnjeva svijesti, sedam smrtnih grijeha… Sedam je broj koji okuplja u aktivnu grupu protagonista patuljke, samuraje ili revolveraše koji će obranit selo od bandita, psihopata u filmu Martina McDonagha… Sedmero izvođača Studija za suvremeni ples čini ansambl u istoimenom radu Jasne L. Vinovrški. Ansambl je u tradiciji modernog / suvremenog plesa, a za razliku od stroge hijerarhijske piramide uspostavljene u klasičnom baletu, skupina ravnopravnih, individualnih plesnih umjetnika (dakle nema solista, odnosno svi su solisti) koje u trenutku okupljanja povezuju zajednički interesi, ciljevi i stavovi, te metode i motivi rada. Njihovo udruživanje kao umnažanje snaga u jednu snažniju, sigurniju organizaciju pretpostavlja osobno ulaganje, međusobno povjerenje i uvažavanje tuđih ideje uz čuvanje individualnih specifičnosti. Ukratko prakticiranje demokracije… No koje su mogućnosti za djelovanje i razvoj ansambla ograničenog na bijeli ispražnjeni kvadrat s jednim pomičnim kutnim zidom, jednim mikrofonom i buketom umjetnog cvijeća (koje si međusobno dijele pa bacaju pa skupljaju…)? U četrdesetak minuta kupljenog uperenog svjetla reflektora koje ih izdvaja iz općeg mraka?
I tu je ishodište specifičnog suvremenog teatra apsurda karakterističnog za Jasnu L. Vinovrški koji se gradi na iznimno duhovitom, višestruko promišljenom poigravanju s premisama forme i sadržaja, deformaciji životne prakse u grotesku društvenih klišeja. Za početak, ni ansambl niti njihova aktivnost nikako ne djeluje plesački: šest brižno i društveno dolično dotjeranih uredskihženica (Koraljka Begović, Dina Ekštajn, Martina Tomić i Ana Vnučec uz svježe snažne osobnosti Eme Crnić i Nastasje Štefanić), urednih frizura, u cipelicama na petu, s ponekim blistavim detaljem na odjeći, kojima se pridružuje jedan zreli muški zaposlenik (Branko Banković) pokušava postići konsenzus oko sastavljanja i pozicije mikrofona u prostoru koji imaju na raspolaganju. (A mikrofon je važna stavka, jer te se ako govoriš za mikrofonom bolje čuje!) Sve se odvija vrlo ozbiljno, pažljivo, pristojno; svaki izvođač kako ulazi u prostor u pomoć kolegama, traži i nudi novo, možda bolje rješenje. Isto će se tako savjesno svako od njih obratiti publici (za konačno postavljenim mikrofonom) u svoje ime ali s inačicom iste prikrivene poante, indirektnog priznanja da postoje osobni, životni prioriteti izvan samog Ansambla koji je tu sigurno i uvijek; i pristupiti svakom zadatku i izvesti ga individualno ne iskačući iz cjeline.
Pokušaji vodstva se brzo smjenjuju, nedovoljno su drukčiji i zanimljivi ili na vrijeme onemogućeni (nema solista!) da se nametnu. Tijekom izvedbe je razvidno da je ipak riječ o plesačima koji raspolažu (svaki svojom prioritetnom) tjelesnom memorijom citata plesne literature, pa tako sasvim skladno i paralelno supostojeći teku sekvence Cunninghama, Wigman, Forsythea, Rosas, Bausch, Akrama Khana i Ferlina koje će se kasnije još provlačiti u individualnim putanjama, rasplinute u automatske obrasce, nešto kao tjelesne poštapalice, uz govorne ispade vezane uz neke druge teme i neumjetničke preokupacije. Ansambl završava svoju priču o izolaciji, frustraciji i kompromisu konačno uigranim zajedničkim vokalnoinstrumentalnim nastupom u zabavnom ritmu (kao ono što publika zapravo cijelo vrijeme očekuje) čime duhovito i benevolentno ali nedvosmisleno podcrtava aktualno pitanje opstojnosti takve zatvorene grupacije u suvremenim uvjetima opće nestabilnosti.
© Maja Đurinović, PLESNA SCENA.hr, 26. lipnja 2018.
An interview with the Berlin-based artist Jasna Layes Vinovrški about the relation between artistic work, context and working conditions, as well as her ties with the Croatian dance scene
By: Ivana Slunjski
Jasna Layes Vinovrški is a Berlin-based dance artist whose roots go back to the Zagreb scene of the eighties, related to the current context by guest performances at festivals and occasional choreographic collaborations, like the most recent one with the Contemporary Dance Studio. At the double bill of two choreographers, whose first performance took place in May at Platforma HR festival, she choreographed the performanceEnsemble(Ansambl), and Clément Layes choreographed _Emergency Artist _(Umjetnik za hitne intervencije). In her creative work she focuses on the issues burdening the creative process of artists today: bureaucratic systems, working in uncertain conditions, art market, migrations, residencies. In 2015 her dance piece Staying Alive was selected for the Aerowaves dance network, which contributed to the visibility of her work in the international context as an undisputed acknowledgment of her former artistic efforts.** **
KP: In Public in Private, the company you established ten years ago with Clément Layes, among other things you examine what it means to work in dance and performance arts. To what extent is it important for a dance author to examine and comment on the working conditions in their work or performances?
Production conditions and the context work happens in have a tremendous impact on the process. A switch from working in an institution to working outside an institution was an important step both for Clément and myself, because it opened our horizons to a new aspect on creativity, to the responsibility we have over our personal development. In Germany, contemporary dance has more or less established itself institutionally, and the non-institutional scene is the strongest in Berlin. I believe that the breakthrough of contemporary dance into institutions, such as civic theatres, brings stability in terms of working conditions, but it also creates a certain kind of elitism. On the other hand, non-institutional working conditions almost impede the creative process. When we launched Public in Private, we focused on establishing our own productive conditions and insisting on them. Not only in terms of financing, but also in terms of working space, people to work with, technical terms etc. I am interested in how to achieve results outside an institution that refer not only on the product, but also make ongoing choreographic work possible. Initially it took us a lot of time to realise how things work on the independent scene. Work ethics of an artist, in our case of a contemporary dancer, also came into focus of our analysis of the creative process, in order to comprehend what it is exactly that our work demands. For us it was important to move away from the routine principles and create possibilities for different formats of production. We dared to experiment, with the very fact that we are developing two different choreographic aesthetics within the scope of one company.
KP: In your performances ANSAMBL and Study for the emergency artist, although these two are thematically related, you develop different interests._
Yes, we continued to explore our own respective concepts. We don’t work much with repertory companies like the Studio and this was definitely a challenge. When people from the Studio proposed a collaboration, we said we would not dare to embark on a joint choreography, since this is not how we usually work. Clément and myself always work together in the way that one manages and designs the piece, while the other supports the process, in terms of either dramaturgy, choreography or set design.
KP: I distinguish between a dance company and group of dancers who decide to create and perform together. A company like the Contemporary Dance Studio mainly perform what others choreographed – therefore, I see them as a group, of sorts, of universal dancers again distinguished by a shared signature principle. Although the Studio dancers in principle do not pursue choreography, I see that as the company’s aesthetics.
I absolutely agree. Companies draw inspiration from daily life, from collaboration, dynamics, relationships, and form their identities through particular work modes. I find companies extremely interesting artistic structures, with a long life, circulating like a dinosaur both in contemporary dance and in other arts. This unique opportunity of working with the Studio, a company existing for 57 years now, gave me a chance to be creative on this subject. During the process I was particularly interested in how a company works in today’s capitalist society, when the members don’t have a chance to work together and create in continuity since they have to be available on many sides. How do the dancers who create together then separate on different sides keep the glue that binds them? I’m generally interested in the idea of unity today – how it is possible to stay together and strive to the individualism we live in, especially to those generations who matured in the communist era, when the idea of unity bore an utterly different sense.
KP: It is often implied that art has no boundaries – it is all about internationalisation, mobilisation, collaboration, work organisation is flexible, and formats of work and or artistic products evolve accordingly. How much does this nomadism, let’s call it that, stimulate artists to create and guarantee artistic freedom, and how much does it require them to compromise?
Flexibility can equally turn against creativity. An institution, not necessarily only a state-owned, can guarantee continuity, security, and one should not reject these values because they are extremely important; an artist, especially a dance artist, can easily start exploiting themselves. Precarity management has spread to other businesses as well, thanks to capitalism. This is how capitalism works to begin with, by turning everything to its own profit. Artists seem to be growingly aware that they need to return to local communities, that they should not scatter around, but rather connect within a community. But it is hard to resist something that has been gaining momentum for years now, go back and insist on the values that can create a productive context to the benefit of an artist’s quality work.
KP: Are the artist and the spectator manipulated in the market system that devours artists and dictates trends, deciding what is and what isn’t good art?
My encounter, as a foreign artist, with German bureaucracy was a traumatic experience. I was aware that I was entering fixed regimes that work more or less that way. Then I realised that if I give those regimes air, they will only grow and overwhelm the essence of what I do. I applied this realisation in my choreographic processes as well, trying to be an active agent in creating choreographic systems, instead of being manipulated. Being a victim of any regime simply doesn’t lead to results, only to a standstill. Looking for a way to make the regime, the way it is, a collaborator, a partner in dialogue, something to influence, has completely changed my way of perceiving the entire mechanism. That is why in the solo _Staying Alive t_he relationship with the audience and how we work together on the stage are extremely important. At a certain point I give audience members a book, which is passed on from one person to another, without knowing what would happen. This creates uncertainty in which the audience becomes an agent. Not all responsibility is on me as an author or a performer, although in every choreography I have more powers that the audience; rather, the responsibility for a given moment is shared between me and the audience. The solo Lady Justice is based on this principle of shared responsibility in the existing system.
KP: How do you see the fact that, after 20 years, with the performance of Staying Alive you were selected to the Aerowaves network as an emerging artist?
I have been active as a professional performer since 1998, and in the past ten years, since the establishment of Public in Private, exclusively as an author. Which means that altogether I have 20 years of experience in dance art. My partner Clément Layes had already taken part at Aerowaves and through him I became acquainted with the network and saw that it includes, apart from emerging artists, many artists active over a longer period of time as well. Therefore, when the producers suggested I enter my piece Staying Alive, I had no doubts about doing it. Aerowaves spreads diffusely and no curator would select and introduce only up-and-coming artists because it’s primarily in their best interest to invite the works their audience would find interesting or those which thematically fit in the festivals they curate. If the idea of discovering new talents still exists, it has more to do with the idea that someone’s artistic work is still undiscovered in a certain context, and less with discovering up-and-coming artists.
KP: Artists’ ideas today often come true in a series of residencies. In Lady Justice you touch on this matter, and in Staying Alive you speak about the migrating body and, moreover, the very performance was realised as part of the Migrant Bodies project. How much does this way of work actually help an artist to familiarise with the context they work in? Since art is, despite everything, conditioned by the context, including work conditions, which are not the same everywhere.
The good thing about residencies is mostly that they pluck you out of your usual context, where you’re scattered on many sides and cannot focus on the project. Residencies on islands, for instance, outside cities, or in places without internet access can sometimes be very beneficial workwise, because they allow for complete dedication to the process and everyone’s full concentration. Such residencies give artists space to work unburdened by time constraints and daily urban life. The very fact that we are used to coming to the studio for two to three hours, do something in a hurry, pick up our things and go already determines the form a project will take. In Public in Private we strive to avoid this kind of work and that is why we decided to establish our own space in Berlin – the Studio Public in Private. Occasional residency experiences are extremely important, but it is also important to go back to the local context.
KP: Apart from isolation, important since it doesn’t burden an artist with creative conditions, do you feel it is important to adopt something of the local context and how much your work affects it?
During shorter, two to three week residencies, I can tell from my personal experience that I first acknowledge the context I work and live in because it creates a distance from which I can see it more clearly. I also perceive coming to Zagreb as a residency, since it is again an excursion away from my Berlin context, but I still understand the language, I can comprehend the local mentality – I’m a guest, but in a familiar surroundings. And this context affects my work primarily through language. Language is an extremely important aspect of my work, I use it as a choreographic material. Through language I delve into much deeper layers of society.
KP: So you consider yourself a Berlin artist?
My roots are here in Zagreb and go back to the eighties and the nineties, when dance was on the rise, particularly to the eighties when festivals were meant to open the former Yugoslavia to the world and portray it as an alternative, progressive environment. But since the breakdown of Yugoslavia I haven’t lived here in fact, although all the time, not only through my family and fellow dance practitioners, but also through frequent visiting performances, I have been following the development of the dance scene. I know about the difficulties it has struggled with, but I still see a positive development over a longer period of time and I still believe a tie that binds the dance community together has evolved. In Berlin this is extremely hard because the scene is scattered, the artists are more connected with institutions than mutually. At meetings and roundtables in Berlin I always mention Zagreb as a positive example, although I know it would raise many eyebrows here. How the artists respond when a problem occurs, how they agree or disagree and still work well in disagreement, these are, in my view, the values that don’t impede creative efforts. People still work and create. In Germany, especially on the independent scene, most artists would probably give up long ago and embark on something more profitable. However, I’m trying to protect myself from the negativity spread around here. Constantly nurturing pessimism doesn’t yield solutions. Younger, more optimistic generations arrive and they should be given a chance to build new visions for the future. Croatia is not isolated, it is possible to collaborate with like-minded people who add a certain quality to work even when everything seems black. I see this optimism as a responsibility and it is upon me to cultivate it.