Perforations Festival New York March 11–21, 2011

See our interview with Perforations Festival founder and curator Zvonimir Dobrovic, as well as previews of the artists.

La MaMa in association with Perforacije (Perforations) Festival in Croatia presents Perforations Festival New York, a live arts festival featuring some of the leading contemporary performing artists from the Balkan region. The festival includes 12 productions with more than 50 artists from five countries—Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Macedonia.

The Perforations Festival takes place annually in Croatia and presents a range of artists working in performance art, theater, and dance, whose diverse approaches to art-making blurs the borders between these genres. Their work touches upon issues of identity (public, political, religious), redefining borders and space, a collective past, and personal histories, but most of all their work talks about the present. Highlights from this festival will be presented in New York, offering audiences insight into contemporary lines of artistic thinking from some of the most provocative and influential artists in the region.

The Perforations Festival is also the largest initiative focused on artists from Central and Eastern Europe whose work is created within the so-called independent artistic scene. Curator and producer of Perforations (Croatia and New York) Zvonimir Dobrovic comments: “State-subsidized venues receive the majority of available arts funding in the Balkans, but some of the most exciting and compelling work in the region is being developed by independent artists working outside of these institutions. It is this group of artists that Perforations supports and presents, in part, to counter established funding and cultural policy that has not created a sustainable working environment for these more progressive artists.”

Perforations Festival New York will feature U.S. premieres from Ivo Dimchev (Bulgaria); BADco. (Croatia); Sanja Mitrović (Serbia); Igor Josifov (Macedonia); Petra Kovačić (Croatia); Željko Zorica (Croatia); Slovenian Youth Theater (Slovenia); Via Negativa (Slovenia); and Ivica Buljan/Mini Teater (Croatia/ Slovenia). Program information for each event follows.

Performances will take place at Club La MaMa, 74A East 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue), New York City. Performances run March 11–20 (Friday, Saturday, and Thursday at 10pm; and Sunday and Monday at 8pm). Tickets are $15 for general admission/$10 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased through La MaMa’s box office at 212-475-7710, and online at The performance installations on March 14 and 18 are free of charge, but a reservation is required.

On Monday, March 21 from 6–8pm, TCDS of The New School for Social Research will present Transgressing Borders in the Balkans: The State of Art, a panel discussion with festival participants, artists, academics, and experts on the region. Location: The New School for Social Research,
66 West 12th Street, Room 510, New York City.

Performance Schedule: March 11–20, 2011

March 11 at 10pm
Ivo Dimchev (Bulgaria)
Lili Handel

Ivo Dimchev is a choreographer and performer whose work is an extreme and colorful mixture of performance art, dance, theater, music, drawings, and photography. Over the last several years, he has become known for his radical work in the area of physical theater. Dimchev’s incentive for creating Lili Handel came from the idea of the human body as a subject of physical and aesthetic consumption. Subtitled “blood, poetry, and music from the white boudoir of a whore…,” Lili Handel is the final cry of a variety show diva. The tagedy of Lili’s fading beauty takes center stage as Dimchev conjures the ancient desire of the stage diva to give the public her innermost life, here, in a passionate and sinister display of her pains.
Lili Handel has been presented more than 70 times in Bulgaria, Macedonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Germany, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Sweden.

March 12 at 10pm
BADco. (Croatia)
Semi-interpretations or How to Explain Contemporary Dance to an Undead Hare
BADco. is a collaborative performance collective based in Zagreb that includes core members Pravdan Devlahović, Ivana Ivković, Ana Kreitmeyer, Tomislav Medak, Goran Sergej Pristaš, Nikolina Pristaš, and Zrinka Užbinec. The collective systematically focuses on the research of protocols of performing, presenting, and observing by structuring its projects around diverse formal and perceptual relations and contexts. Semi-interpretations, or How to Explain Contemporary Dance to an Undead Hare, a solo created and performed by Nikolina Pristaš (Hooge Huysen award winner for Best Young Choreographer in 2002), reconfigures established boundaries between audience and performer and is inspired, in part, by the work of Joseph Beuys, François Delsatre, Franz Kafka, Steven Shavior, Bruno Latour, and Graham Harman.

March 13 at 8pm
Sanja Mitrović (Serbia)
Will You Ever Be Happy Again?
Are we ever going to be happy again? It’s a question the German population asked themselves at the end of the Second World War. A significant part of the Serbian population faced the same question in the wake of the new millennium. Conceived and directed by Sanja Mitrović (2010 BNG Theater award for Best Young Director), Will You Ever Be Happy Again? is developed around autobiographical accounts of its performers, the Serbian Mitrović and German Jochen Stechmann, and employs documentary strategies to explore how nationality influences one’s personal identity. The work is structured as a succession of performative situations, based on the performers’ personal and collective memories. They counterpoint and mirror each other’s cultural and historical backgrounds as they approach the problem of self-representation–the way one looks at the other and the urge to see oneself through the eyes of another.

March 14 at 8pm (shared evening)
Two performance installations presented throughout the evening beginning at 8pm

Petra Kovačić (Croatia)

Petra Kovačić is a 2008 graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. The concept for Act(ing) originated from her desire to provide audiences with the experience and feeling of creation. The work is defined as a performance installation—a symbolic view of the creation of a visual artwork that is developed over the course of the performance. Movement is created through the gestures Kovačić uses to build the piece. The material constructed and its final destruction looks to the importance and necessity of experiencing feelings and emotions in the moment.

Željko Zorica (Croatia)
Digitalization of Monumental Heritage and Its Commercial Exploitation

Željko Zorica has worked within different artistic fields as a coauthor of theater performances, set designer, puppeteer, dramatist, graphic designer, writer, and founder of several theater companies. Digitalization of Monumental Heritage and Its Commercial Exploitation is part of an ongoing project that started in 1983 when Zorica developed a fictitious scholar named H. C. Zabludovsky whose writing investigates the phenomena of people rarely stopping and reading what is written on memorial plaques. In response, Zorica has created a faux space that memorial plaques occupy, replacing the plaques with light monitors that screen text and visual material referring to the commemorated person or event. Zorica also creates and places newly invented plaques in strategic locations to reference significant events that took place there. The performance events that surround this activity are somber and staged ceremonies, with speeches, music, and other kinds of theatrics that typically accompany such events.

March 17 at 10pm
Slovenian Youth Theater (Slovenia)
Damned Be The Traitor of His Homeland

The Slovenian Youth Theater was established in 1955 as Slovenia’s first professional theater for children and youth. Today it is known for its wide range of innovative works by various young directors and its ensemble energy, which avoids star hierarchy by investing in a laboratory approach to build its creative ensemble. Every collaborator–actor, director, choreographer, set designer, musician–researches, develops, risks, and creates. Through its performances, the company strives to address universal paradoxes and to develop new codes of theatrical practice, new visual paradigms, and new points of view on the classics, modernism, and postmodernism. In Damned Be The Traitor of His Homeland, Croatian director Oliver Frljić led the company through a series of improvisations to create the language and material for this work. Using an aggressive style, the piece deconstructs Yugoslavian political, theatrical, and historical stereotypes while addressing the danger of committing a crime. Frljić is seen as the leader of a new generation of Croatian theater directors and is known for his use of hyperbole along with grotesque and strong visuals to talk to his audience, to be political, contemporary, and relevant.

March 18 (off-site performance installation – time and location TBA)
Igor Josifov (Macedonia)
Present Memories

In Igor Josifov’s work, an analogous collapsing of borders occurs between artist and form. After several years working in a range of media, Josifov has now chosen his own body as his primary and essential medium. Present Memories is a performance installation in which Josifov comments on the process of entering and moving through different mental constructs that artists embody during performance. He will perform elements from five previous works in this revisiting process: Purification Process, PPP Mental Prison, Emit, 2 Dimensional, and Reflection on Originality. All of these works are anchored in visual and body art and share a through line of endurance. This is a durational work during which Josifov casts himself as a signifying body in a field of social semiotics and uses performance and visual representation to explore psychoanalytic themes such as identity, death, loss, and the status of the ego in contemporary society.

March 18 at 10pm
Via Negativa (Slovenia)

Via Negativa’s work is focused on the relationship between the performer and the audience in real space and time. This relationship is identified as a complex flow of points of view, expectations, judgments, conclusions, recognitions, stereotypes, fallacies, prejudices, tolerance or intolerance, and knowledge or lack thereof. All of these perceptions trigger various emotional, rational, or irrational responses. No matter what the subject or story behind the performance, Via Negativa always searches for the situation(s) that triggers and activates this relationship. The company dedicated its first seven years (2002–08) to addressing the seven deadly sins. Out, the final piece they developed during this period, focuses on the sin of vanity. The work examines the logic of expectations in the relationship between viewer and performer, and tests how the spectator and performer will act out their roles in a situation in which it is no longer clear what they can expect from each other.

March 19 at 10pm
Via Negativa (Slovenia)
Game With Toothpicks
Tonight I Celebrate

Via Negativa’s Game With Toothpicks is described as a documentary performance where a Serb and Croat enact a knife-game scene (which is also referenced in Marina Abramović’s Rhythm 10), literally cutting each other on stage. This scene is part of the piece Not Like Me and reflects upon the horrified media response to the work. Game With Toothpicks deals with the media’s “exterior” reaction as if it’s the “interior” of their experience. Performers Kristian Al Droubi and Boris Kadin adopt two radically different positions, turning the performance into an absurd self-referential machine.

Invalid begins in 1990 when the performer, Primož Bezjak, injures his knee after being struck by a stone. Bezjak is an active dancer, actor, and performer, and discusses his diagnosis and therapy at length. At every rehearsal and performance he is in constant danger of dislocating his knee, which has happened many times before. At his request, viewers render his performance impossible. At the core of this work is the idea that without a mangled body a dancer cannot exist or succeed in the system.

Tonight I Celebrate focuses on the relationship between a performer and an audience, on its depth and profanity, its authenticity and illusion. The title song “Tonight I Celebrate My Love for You” by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin serves as the introduction to eight popular songs from which the singer/performer Uroš Kaurin, accompanied on contrabass by Tomaž Grom, expresses his love for the audience. The ultimate question this work asks is: If the audience of today is ready for everything, does that mean that a performer of today must be ready for everything too?

March 20 at 8pm
Ivica Buljan/Mini Teater (Croatia/Slovenia)
Ma and Al

Ivica Buljan is one of Croatia’s most prolific directors; he codirects Mini Teater with Robert Waltl, and is known for his extensive work with Pasolini and Koltès texts. Ma and Al is inspired by various texts by J.D. Salinger as well as Koltès’ play Sallinger. The space is decorated with fragments of props and the border between the real and fictitous becomes blurred as the audience is called upon and drawn into the playful hysteria of the actors. Issues raised in the show are varied and about the everyday: family breakups, the death of a child, American democracy, the relationship between traditional and contemporary theater, art, and the Vietnam War.

* * * * *

The Perforations Festival in Croatia is produced by Association Domino, a presenting organization that produces two major international festivals in Croatia annually: Perforations and Queer Zagreb. Founded in 2009, the mission of Perforations is to commission, produce, and promote internationally significant work by young and emerging artists from Central and Eastern Europe. Perforations takes place in three cities in each fall: Rijeka, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb. Queer Zagreb, which has been presented in Croatia since 2003, challenges heteronormativity within transitional societies through art, theory, and activism. Zvonimir Dobrovic is the Artistic Director and Producer of both of these festivals.

Perforations Festival New York has received support from Trust for Mutual Understanding, Dance Theater Workshop’s Suitcase Fund as part of the East/Central Europe Cultural Partnerships Program, with support from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, FACE Croatia, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, City of Zagreb Office for Culture, Zagreb Tourist Board, and City of Ljubljana with additional support from CEC ArtsLink.

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