18 edycja 18 edycja 18 edycja konfrontacje teatralne

Letter to Marta Keil and Grzegorz Reske

Zagreb, May 1st, 2012

 

Dear Marta Keil and Grzegorz Reske,

Thank you so much for your interest in our project. We would like to give you here just a brief summary of its history, trying to keep it as concise as possible.
As you may already know, in 2010 we started a project called The Curators’ Piece. It is a project in which we select and invite, via email, the curators of festivals and venues in western Europe and the USA to work with us on a performance. The performance is meant to be performed and co-produced by curators, and presented in their houses or venues. With the curators that first accepted, during 2010, we did what we called «the research phase». We spent 7 days with one curator in his or her place of work (Sven Age Birkeland from Bit-teatergarasjen, in Bergen; Barbara Raes from Buda, in Kortrijk; Veronica Kaup-Hasler from steirischer herbst, in Gotteborg; Lane Czaplinski from On The Boards in Seattle; Stefan Hilterhaus from Pact Zollverein, in Essen and Vallejo Gantner from PS 122, in New York). We used the research period to examine the means of production of the performing arts on the larger scale, as well as to get to know the curator and the specific socio-political conditions of their work.

Toward the end of the research phase, we decided to invite all the curators who participated, as well as a few others, into a performance: a trial against art, under the accusation that it has not managed to save the world.

Instead of explaining ourselves theoretically, we decided to use artistic tools, fiction and reality, to communicate about the project. We have done that in the form of emailed letters, one of which you are reading right now. These letters follow the course of the project, and are published once, one after the other, in various international performing arts journals. Two of these letters have already been published: the first one to Norvegian curator Sven Age Birkeland, in the Croatian art magazine Frakcija, and second to German curator Christine Peters in Les journal des Laboratoires d’Aubervilleirs. We are sending you both of those letters in an attachment, to give an idea.

This third letter is an invitation to you. We invite you to take part in our performance as a trial against art. We accuse art of being guilty for not saving the world.

What we are aiming at with this question of “art saving the world,” is a call for a new responsibility of art. We believe that at this moment certain fundamental questions have to be raised again. In the world as it is now, art has to rethink its role and prove that it still has value and importance. Art, and the art world, has to look within itself and say something to address its value to the world. When we say art we mean: all of us involved in the performing arts. We invite you to take part in our performance in order to claim your beliefs and positions.
Of course, not all of the curators that we asked to participate were interested in performing, and that was one of the main problems: how to get them on stage. We conceive the curators’ presence on stage rather as a tool, a means, a gesture. And, of course, as it is a performance, it needs its specific way toward production: rehearsals, which might feel new to you as well. What the process of making a performance enables all of us to do, and why it is so intimate and precious, no matter one’s competency and interest in being a performer, is that it permits each curator to look closer inside of himself or herself and to find a personal motivation to stand on stage, a personal cause worth fighting for, for the importance of art.

We think it urgent to ask questions on the responsibility of art today, and to find a niche for art to participate in an active way in society. The questions that we are raising here are not aesthetic.  We are not proposing a new aesthetics of political art. What we propose is a shift of emphasis. And we propose it through theatre, because of the necessarily public situation within which it operates.

This performance is both a gesture and a statement.

What is unique about this stage gesture is that it can come from all of us together: you in your curatorial practice, and us in our artistic practice. When all of the creators are standing together on the stage, the power of this gesture will be tremendous.

The curators are the ones that are responsible for art today on the larger scale. It is in this sense that the performance is a gesture and a statement of and for the performing arts community today. In the ongoing crisis of arts, with e.g its funding cuts, art has to justify its existence in front of the audience.

We must say that we take everything about the performance very personally.  When we started this process, it was clear that it depends mostly on one thing: the motivation and conviction of curators standing on stage to talk about the issues proposed – to participate in this trial.

This has turned out to be a rather long email. There is so much to say, and the questions that we are raising in the project are so crucial for us that we cannot do other than put all our energy into it.  We hope you don’t mind…and hope you will find it important to take part.
Thank you once more for your interest,

Hope to see you around!

Tea Tupajić & Petra Zanki