PSR Pumping lab
In the period between April and May, and October and November, Lokomotiva created a space for exchange and research of intersection of art and environment, and invited Viktorija Ilioska a choreographer from North Macedonia, to open her space for creation and share the investigation process of the topic that she works on, 'pumping', and to instigate and question some ideas on sustainable actions together with local artists, curators, civil society activists and scientists. Whole process was divided in three phases.
Phase 1 (research/interviews):
Ilioska met diverse people, artists, cultural workers that she worked with during the process, and also had an informal meetings and interviews in the period of 18 April-28 May.
Phase 2 (lab work/ presentation):
In the second part, or in the period from 27 October - 18 November lab situations were developed with Viktorija Ilioska, Nastya Dzyuban and Laura Stellacci. Ilioska out of the process developed a piece “I want a new body” that was presented by Lokomotiva on the 47th Young Open Theatre in Skopje on 16th of November, 2022.
Phase 3 (discussion):
On 17th of November, Lokomotiva in communication and partnership with the feminist festival Prvo pa Zhensko/Firstborn Female developed discursive session “Dialog that we are missing” with Biljana Tanurovska, Kristina Lelovac, Dusica Lazova, Kumjana Novakova, Filip Jovanovski, Elizabet Kolevska, Hristina Ivanovska, Jasmina Vasileva and Rok Vevar.
In the first part discussion was oriented towards relation of movement and somatic research and methods of working with the body and themes of extractivism, capitaloscene, market driven practices of body – pumping - as workout, or pumping that is paradoxically at the same time capitalist practice of exhaustion and the feminist practice of enrichment, and enhancement. Also, about softness, stillness and open signs in performing.
In the second part of the discussion, participants were invited to talk on three question related to the performance: What did we see?, What is the meaning of what we see? and What is the gaze behind seeing?
Lokomotiva and PPZH also as part of this process invited Dusica Lazova and Elizabet Kolevska to reflect in texts on the process and the performance, and texts will be presented on the web sites of Lokomotiva, the festival PPZH and feminist portal Meduza. All discussion was recorded, to be used as an archive.
Experiences/Statements from the participants in the discussion/artists
Biljana Tanurovska – Kjulavkovski
Whole process of research directed towards – pumping- as an action, opened up diverse direction of reflection and gave a material that was large, from where diverse reading on pumping as an extractivist, capitalistic, anthropocentric or capitalocentric process on one side, and feminist - as distributing the body, on other side, was developed.
This material was thought together, imagined, deconstructed and constructed in diverse images on what Ilioska together with Nastya Dzyuban and Laura Stellacci worked on. Being part of it as an curator that was interviewed, but also as a women and mother gave me possibility to think of not only my body, but all culture of self-care as capitalistic one, but also to rethink it and propose its deconstruction and possibility to be seen as transindividual care maybe, or a care for yourself as a part of a the care for the other and of the collective, that can also be caring. Diverse images and body somatics that Ilioska, Dzyuban and Stellacci worked with were changing as materials were. Whole process enabled me, also from a side of a producing party (Lokomotiva) to see - what we rarely have here, - and that is possibility to think together, to enable artistic exploration to go through processes, to extend itself in communication with diverse individuals, collectives, practices, situations, materials, references and enable the production of diverse subjectivities, and an artwork, as well as reflection on it. It is a rare process here, in this context therefore I value this possibility as such, -rare- that need to become basic material condition for work.
In a period of two months in April and May 2022, I was busy with developing a research question and investigating the notion of "pumping”, as well as other closely aligned concepts. Having an exciting opportunity to meet people from the field, to interview, exchange, and discuss, I have used these meetings, which happened in Skopje in the period between 18th of April and 28th of May, to encounter several artists, a curator and a cultural worker from the local scene. These encounters helped me not only to understand how my research topic resonates with some of my colleagues from the field, but also to get to know and explore their methods of work and ways of thinking. In every sense, this first phase was marked as a fruitful exchange.
The second phase in a period between September, October and November was dedicated to preparation, organization and, eventually, materialization of the research ideas. In this phase, the piece "I need a new body" was developed, together with my colleagues Nastya Dzyuban and Laura Stellacci. The realization and presentation finished in Skopje, on the 16th of November at the 47th Young Open Theatre festival.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to see the performance and be part of the discussion which were worthwhile and important. Discursive reflection on contemporary theater/performance works and practices is so much needed in our cultural context.
Viki/Nastja, maybe in the next performance you should make a catalog including text/explanation of the process of work and main points that you mentioned in a discussion. Such as using a transcript of the interview by Schwarzeneger in the scenario and all other references, milk/oil etc. It's important to understand the process of research, starting point and motivation for this work. But, also how the process of research shaped the form of the performance and how much it was complicated to „stage/produce" it.
The artistic research translated in a space for play/performance (ref. prostor igre/meta hocevar) for me was also very important.
It was very clear, politically and artistically important, that the stage in this work was as a space for transformation not only for esthetic representation. The space itself became a body (for the audience but also for the performers).
Transforming black box in a „white cube" was an irony (as distancing effect) to the traditional artistic forms (performances or/and exhibitions installed in a white or black box, typically for a dominant artistic discourse in our local Macedonian context). I expect that some (traditional, from the 90s) local curators would say „What kind of form was this?". Installation? Performance? Contemporary dance? Who wrote the text? Who is the author?. Funny, isn’t it?
Also, the dramaturgy of a space, transforming scenography decorative orange elements in the beginning, into costumes later, confirmed the thesis that the performance = space. Quoting theater (black box) using stage elements, such as small rotation mechanisms, also proved this.
No illusion, only simple physical action that defines the space/performance.
I expected more interaction with the audience
Viktorija Ilioska and Nastya Dzyuban
The process, in which “I need a new body” was created, presented itself at the same time as a source of inspiration and curiosity. It started with a phase of expanded research, where the initial departure points, that is two verbs pumping and sucking, were explored, expanded and sensed. In this fluid phase, exchanging ideas, challenging, processing, thinking together, spending time together had a crucial role. Creating movement and images requires certain kind of articulations, and these are the most interesting when experienced in relation with someone else. Initial burst of ideas, thoughts and images had to be materialised by switching between various modes of working. The process required practicing transmission, crafting together and constant reflection on dramaturgical, compositional and choreographic elements of work.
Located in a disturbingly clean white cube, dynamized by the unfathomable tempo of the performers’ bodies - and each body was not one - I NEED A NEW BODYconfronted us with the filth and pain of the capitalist expansion, exploitation and extraction. The discussion/reflection organized after the presentation/premiere was a rare opportunity to collectively feel and think, to reflect and elaborate, to thank the performers and give them support and inspiration for further development of the piece.
Building upon obviously a complex research process, I Need a New Body is a performative space of exploration in which feminist gestures - past, present and future ones - meet and are related to each other. Loosely framed as an encounter with two processes - pumping and sucking - both framed by and within the anthropocentric culture, the work performs them over and over again, carefully nurturing a desire of and for continuous re-vision.
Re-vision as an approach - a perpetual tryout, or the rehearsal as a method - allows not only for the maker, but also for the observer a microscopic insight into the study of the body as a system, further opening possibilities to reflect on much wider underlaying critical processes, values and even obsessions, as perpetual progress and change, are.
Thus, we the observers dare to reimagine and we dare to challenge the obsession with the stronger, the obsession with the bigger and the obsession with the result - all underlying the colonial culture of extractivism and discovery.
Having in mind the above, I would underline that all of these aspects position the work as politically and socially important and critical work of art, alongside its power to offer new methodological approaches to the artistic process as such.
P.S. a film (and installation piece) I mentioned on extractivism and pumping, involving S. Federici: Three (or more) Ecologies: A Feminist Articulation of Eco-intersectionality – Part I: For the World to Live, Patriarchy Must Die
The performance of Viktorija Ilioska I Need A New Body (2022, conceived in collaboration with Nastya Dzyuban, Laura Stellacci and performed by Ilioska and Dzyuban) that has been premiered on 16th of November 2022 in MKC Skopje confronts us with relatively demanding receptive procedures, offers many entrance points and engages us in negotiation with different modes of perception that we know from the contemporary performing arts (semantic, material, physical etc.). Its persistent objectivity after the introductory scene when spectators get physically prepared for the show invites us to sense and question our tactics and strategies of perception of the (doubled) body as fundamentally (un)finished, procedural and in permanent construction while problematizing its productive and exhaustive materiality, technology and culture. Framed with ambivalent references to the mysterious French renaissance painting Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses sœurs (c. 1594) from the School of Fontainebleau (which may be completely my own personal projection), the piece brings with it the corpus of interpretative possibilities and questions (space, gender and its relations, binaries, bodies, nature, production and reproduction, reception, theoritization etc.) more than it offers answers. Its consequential composition of highly ambivalent presences, its resistance to occupy the level of clear signification and creation of interpretatively omnipotent work is something that one has to appreciate. The performance is not about what the body is (identity) or what the body wants (desire) but more about what the body does (also out of desire) and how it is doing it (it manages to objectify the doing of it).
The discussion that followed the day after premiere in MKC, opened with very simple tasks and questions for the public and managed to gather and illuminate many different (and legitimate and creative) approaches of spectators to the piece and at the same time showed how busy the public gets when it is confronted with a high-quality piece, demanding structures that don't conform to any conventional mode of dance or theater perception.
Gallery pics © NDA Slovenia