PREMIERE Co-production "Strange by default" by Kliment Poposki & Sabrina Zeleznik
Recently we the co - authors, co-choreographers have both become new residents of Skopje, Macedonia (Sabrina coming from Slovenia and Kliment from Australia). Shortly after meeting we began our private and artistic collaboration and we discovered our similarities of being “strangers” to the newfound environment.
I am a stranger in the country I emigrated to.
As a stranger/migrant who at first promises his or hers surroundings a definite trigger to fantasies that they hold the key of some exotic far far away land, better or worse than the current, which is as real as a total reflection in the desert, is in a short time mounded with the projected nouns of the collective fear.
I am a stranger in my own country.
I am someone who feels like a stranger in his own country. Is it because I lived abroad for twenty years or is my perception different then my surroundings?
(i.e. Foreigner, alien, outsider, visitor, guest, new arrival, immigrant, intruder, newcomer, drifter, interloper, migrant, outlander, squatter, transient, wanderer, foreign body, incomer, party crasher, perfect stranger, uninvited person, unknown person).
Recently we came across Georg Simmel’s essay ‘The Stranger’ in which he is dealing with a dilemma as a sociologist: How can we establish general laws on the basis of unique events, and how can we study unique, social events as the manifestation of general laws? This question was very important for us when we were thinking in what way our individual positions as strangers make us a part of the society. How can we go from being individuals, of having separate bodies and no knowledge of the others, to being members of society? Simmel suggested that because of the fact that we are influencing each others’ behaviors daily we form society. He named those behaviors interactions and he claimed that they can be studied as universal.
If we take his claim to be true we are safe to assume that as a group of strangers we might not have anything in common except the way we interact. That is why our first artistic question is: what are those universal means of interaction between people that don’t know each other? The question is applicable to social interactions as well as to interactions we encounter as artists in almost all working relations. As artists in the independent scene of performing arts, belonging to the neoliberal labor system, we repetitively encounter temporality of working conditions: short residencies, non continuity of production and project based work dictates the social interactions we have and the individuals we choose to work with.
One of the methodologies in our research thus far were interviews with artists in which we discovered that the majority of people asked felt estranged ? towards a certain group of people, whereas we are all the time working on communication. In Simmel’s words communication means working on something common. But as we have learned we are looking for belonging even though we need others to acknowledge our individuality. In the artistic discipline we belong to, it is evident, that as artists we are more and more tending toward our individuality instead of reaching for communality. As time goes by and our everyday interactions are giving us a way in to the collective, why has our stranger identity become the default? From here arises our next artistic question:
what are the mechanisms of interaction through which we honor our strangeness?
One other interesting idea that comes to this is the ‘encounters’ as social concept that was introduced by Slavoj Žižek. He talks how encounters can be really fatal… you meet a stranger in the street and before you know it you can marry them. The question is what kind of encounters we attract as strangers? And then in what kind of interaction we find ourselves with our ‘strangenessness’? Those questions are again not relevant only in everyday relationships, but also in working relationships: performer to performer, performers to dramaturge, performers and the audience.
So far we have learned that the position of the stranger is an abstraction and an idealization, thereby we would like to transpose all of the above questions in a performative capacity in which the strangeness of encounters between dramaturgical tools such as movement, text, multimedia and light will expose the acknowledgement of our position as strangers to the audience.
 Simmel, Georg and Kurt H. Wolff.1950. The Sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press
01.04.17 - 30.04.17
Platform(a), Skopje (MK)-