“My Private Bio-politics” performance by Saša Asentić was from the beginning conceived as an open research within the field of dance and performance in Eastern-European transitional context. It arose as a part of a perennial research and artistic project called „Indigo Dance“ in which a number of associates of different profiles were included – performer and culture worker Saša Asentić, ballerina, dancer, and choreographer Olivera Kovačević – Crnjanski, performing arts and culture theoretician and dramaturge Ana Vujanović, as well as others – and is realized through different work formats: in addition to the performance, there are also a CD presentation “Bal-Can-Can Susie Dance” and historical archive/video installation “Tiger’s Leap into the Past” and “Recycle Bin” as its addition.
Author and performer: Saša Asentić Assistance: Olivera Kovačević-Crnjanski Theoretical support and dramaturgy: Ana Vujanović
Duration: 55 minutes
Premiere date: 11th February 2007
Place of premiere: Serbian National Theatre – Novi Sad, Serbia
Supported by: Performance is made in co-production with Centre national de la danse – Paris, research in residency (Theorem Dance residencies), and is prepared within interdisciplinary dramaturgical trainings of THe FaMa in Belgrade and Dubrovnik. Performance is supported by DanceWEB (with the support of the Cultural Programme 2000 of the European Union within the frame of danceWEB Europe).
Concept: This work tries to deal with its own macro and micro conditions in which it appears.
For the beginning, to make them visible because of specification of mechanisms and procedures of the production of dance on Serbian scene. Then, to intervene. However, this led to a series of questions which were left without final answers. Finally, these questions, in their complexity, became the main intervention which this work is going to try to carry out.
The questions spring from the problem of positioning within relations of global and local bio-powers and bio-politics of dance in Serbia today. How to locate “one’s own (private and public) specificity”? And what is to be done with it bearing in mind the tensions between local ideologies and global expectations related to these ideologies: evacuate it from the work in order to achieve successful communication (or coquetting) with the global, that is, Western, trends, in which this specificity is not included; or to base the work on it even at the cost of failure, i.e. exclusion from conceptual-programmatic map of the international scene? Furthermore, does the former strategy gives us “a right to discourse” or is this decided at a completely different place and by means of completely different procedures?
Which ”bodies” are imprinted in the body that is dancing today on the Serbian scene? For example, which bodies (coming from this specific context) are projected, through expectations of a hypothetical “Western curator, and by this a spectator as well, almost as a genetically determined feature/difference from the “Western one”? Where the particularity of that context is, in its contemporaneity, very gloomy – that context is not a part of the First World, it is not EU, it is still called the East (even though the West is not called “West” any more), it is post-socialist in the capitalist world, and it is terribly transitional, without a single bit of “flexibility and nomadism” which would make it exotic. Which are, on the local dance scene, the bodies that hover dancing in the air here, over an “indigo paper” (carbon copy), without being “grounded” in such a context, and which are moved by a wish to be contemporary, maybe even resistant? And then again, which are the other bodies that would carry the local specificity, for which, in fact, neither we ourselves want to know? Nevertheless, if we construct and show them, although we would rather not… which bio-politics are we executing? Isn’t it not already a contribution to some other bio-power? Local? Or…? Where, in this (inter)space are this work and the politics of the body that will perform it in a public space, which we share and in which we continue to live?
History of the project
2007 Performance has been going through constant change since its premiere in Novi Sad, Serbia in February 2007.
It was presented at the following festivals and / or art centers: Serbian National Theatre Novi Sad, Tanz im August Berlin, Bitef Showcase Program Belgrade, Balkan Dance Platform Athens, National Dance Centre Bucharest, Have U Met Nosti Arts Festival Dublin, Mladi Levi Festival Ljubljana, ExTeatar Fest Pančevo, and East Dance Academy Week Zagreb.
As a reflective and self-reflective work, the performance changed, under the influence of specific geo-political and performing arts contexts, as well as change of a personal status on Serbian and international scene, and macro-social trends in the field of contemporary dance and performance. During the year of 2007, the performance was a bit different in every show – it included new materials, some earlier included were left out and then, perhaps, included again, displaced from one show to another…
2008 One year after the premiere of the performance things seemed somewhat different. Actual social and artistic situation and circumstances of performing the work gave us some answers themselves, and at the same time raised new issues. The work in its original and integral version was for the last time shown at its anniversary, in February 2008, again in Novi Sad. At that point – reflecting the fact that performance started to circulate regularly in European system of contemporary dance – we faced the exhaustion of a departing concept and blunted the edge of the subject matter and critical potential. According to that, we decided to turn this work-in-progress into work-in-regress. The seriousness of dance research comprehension takes us to the erasing and disappearing of performance, on the stage and before the eyes of the audience. Performance is gradually being turned into an archive video-documentation, thus being deprived of a living circulation and opening itself towards history.
In this way, during 2008, it was performed at: Centre National de la Danse Paris, Mousonturm Frankfurt, Sommerszene 08 Festival Salzburg, International Contemporary Dance Festival “New Baltic Dance’08” Vilnius, Stary Browar Art Center Poznan, Moving in November Festival Helsinki, and Complicitas Festival (La Mekanika) Barcelona.
The last performance, the performance without performance, i.e. the performance as a self-video-documentation, was presented in Belgrade, in February of 2009.
2009 After self-abolition of performance as an art piece, we go on to the next phase of work. “My Private Bio-politics” performance as a personal artistic and political statement of the author and his team, characteristic for transitional Serbian society and art and their positioning with regards to scenes of the First world, now we comprehend the work as an artistic means, a methodological tool which we developed and wish to give in the hands of artists of the contemporary dance and performance, who are willing to explore, to reflect their contexts and public work, to all who have something to say about structuration of global World of contemporary dance and performance – but have been deprived of voice, and cannot be heard as really relevant participants.
We will organize research, art and methodological games, discussions and workshops, while the performance will be only a demonstration example.
In this transfer there is some (self)ironic reference to the practice of “choreography transfer” of the great Western mainstream choreographers, with a difference that here – having in mind that the author neither fits in the profile, nor has a “recipe for success” – we don’t have a transfer of a masterpiece, not even piece, but critical open source program of artistic work. By this, we will deliver the tools to local artists for their own “private biopolitics” – through which they will tell their own stories about symbolical ownership over history and concepts, monopolizing of global dance and performance scene, and patronization of “the backward” and “the late comers”.
Performance „My private bio-politics“ in its 3rd phase will be presented it the frame of the following 3 days program. Program will comprise of Demonstration #1 and #2 and Methodological games and will be led by Ana Vujanović – theorist of performing arts, Olivera Kovačević-Crnjanski – choreographer and Saša Asentić – performer and cultural worker.
1st day: Demonstration # 1 „Tiger’s leap into the past“ – lecture and discussion (2 hours)
2nd day: Demonstration # 2 „My private bio-politics“ performance (50 minutes) Round table discussion / After talk moderated by the local theorist/artist (1 hour)
3rd day: Methodological games # 1 applied to the subjects and concepts of Demonstration #1 and #2 Meeting with local dance artists, theorists, critics, etc (4 hours) for more info about the games please visit: www.everybodystoolbox.net
In 2009 the work was presented in: Dance Theatre Workshop (New York) TransEurope 2009 Festival (Hildesheim) Personal Profile Festival (Moscow) In-Presentable Festival (Madrid) Off Europa Festival (Leipzig and Dresden)
In 2010 the work was presented in: Serbian National Theatre (Novi Sad) Wienner festwochen (Vienna) Dance, politics and co-immunity symposium – University in Geissen (Giessen) December Dance Festival (Brugge) BilBak and ARTEA program - Universidad del País Vasco (Bilbao)
Textual version of the performance was presented as “My private bio-politics / performance on the paper floor” in:
Performace Reaseach: On choreography (2008)
TkH - journal for performing arts theory (2008)
MOVE: Choreographing you - More archive program (2010) Southbank Center - Hayward Gallery