My Body Is an Art Residency

lorgennale Zagreb – In Six Rooms

The pilot edition of lorgennale was organized in Zagreb/Croatia. The next one is coming to Stuttgart from May 24th to 28th, 2017. There will soon be an open call for people who want to open their houses for an art event.

room no. 6

the sixth room was the most beautiful. because it was in a big apartment in the center of zagreb. because I’ll be living here for three days, the last days. and I won’t be alone, I’ll be with my old friend Alice. because I’ll be performing in this room with an old piano that does not crowd its dimensions.

a new couch that looks like an antique piece, but it’s not, one or two armchairs sitting around a table on which a remote control rests. the remote control is pointing towards a TV. by the windows, the elevated floor becomes a little stage. on the stage there is a little table with useful objects for a tourist: a map and city guide. I don’t need them anymore. the hallway is so long that a golf cart would come in handy. alice says the apartment, which looks like the royal suite of a four star hotel, could easily become an art gallery.

I’m at the end of my journey. I left bucharest on May 30 and I have since passed through berlin, berlin , stuttgart, schloss solitude, venice, belgrade, osijek, ljubljana, athens, cluj, bucharest, tbilisi. I spent countless hours in airports and bus stations and many nights under many roofs. my body was screaming: I want to go home!

in this room we’re going to perform striptease. on the last day of lorgennale this room will gather almost all the cool people I met in zagreb.

on the first night we go to the christmas market, we eat local sausages and catch up with each other’s lives, especially the love lives. then we choose our bedrooms. I made a bad choice, so I can’t sleep because of the noisy trams. the next night we switch rooms and both of us will be very happy with our choices.

since the last time I performed striptease, in March at CNDB, two lives have passed me since: one at solitude, surrounded by love, and one in belgrade and zagreb, surrounded by solitude. this time, I’m not nervous at all. after I walk in front of the audience with a sign that says The Show, I go to my room where, for ten minutes, I do intense yoga exercises, so that I look as exhausted as alice, who exhibited her skills while doing a striptease with hoola-hoops. it’s december 18. it’s exactly 8 years since I opened lorgean theatre. the audience is applauding.

but that’s another story:

»I performed Strip-tease in the Lorgennale in Zagreb. It is not the first time I perform in an apartment since this performance itself was created in one. I like this context a lot because it is more intimate, the performer/audience relationship is blurrier and it makes more obvious the performative aspect of daily life. It makes you perform and look at performances in general from a different perspective.« Alice Pons

the show ends with a silly intrusion from the croatian television. the night ends with beer, pelinkovac, and friends whom I hope to see again. the residency ends with a coffee at sonja’s, after which I leave town without a residue of negative energy. after a stopover in munich, the trip ends. at last, I arrive in a room with blue and gold wallpaper which is full of memories that hopefully will melt the frost of the last months.


room no. 5

the fifth room is in a memorial home. vjieceslav richter lived here, a famous croatian artist and architect. I don’t know anything about him or about the croatian art scene in general at the moment. so I welcome the guided tour of the house. the rooms downstairs, which function as a gallery, are not particularly attractive, except for one room which could have been a sort of a chapel. now, children attend art workshops here. but something entices me while climbing up the stairs as I’m entering what used to be richter’s home.

I didn’t sleep well that morning because I knew I had to get up early at 8.30. meeting before 12 o’clock stress me out, even though I go to bed early in zagreb. for two weeks I hear a new noise coming from behind the wall, as if a metal sheet is dangling in the wind. I . in the 45 minutes that I’m on the 6 tram to get to the melodious sounding mandalicina stop, I use headphones. I feel more at home in the tram than in the museum studio.

the room is basically a huge living-room which also managed to swallow a hallway. it looks like a page from the neckerman catalogue that I used to flip through as a child. two couches, a corner sofa, a rusty looking armchair. a big table, a small table, a midsize table. and another table with a big lamp. on one of the tables, guess which, there’s a tray with fruit made of wax or plastic. decorative objects rest on the fireplace. two paintings by richter. richter himself is smiling at us from a black and white picture in a frame. an old german TV. on the shelves lie the fundamental books of an intellectual. the ceiling has a unique design of varnished braided boards. the room is dominated by a square pattern of different textures, stripes and colors which is to be found even on the drapes of the windows that face the balcony and on the grate of an old radiator.

a house in which everything comes together, and in spite of its old age is still alive. it’s certainly more alive than the huge unplugged refrigerator that I’ve been living in since the end of september.

later, on the fourth day of lorgennale, cups will appear on the small table. the cups will be filled with tea. at the beginning, people will sit down on the chairs and couches, then, sonja j and silvia, the artists who came up with the idea for this evening, will invite them to sit in a circle on the furry carpet or on the red pillows. a single person, slightly arrogant, named darko, will hold back, choosing the couch and isolation. he came on the first night too when he took over the conversation with a monologue. the performance will begin with a short introduction of richter, then I’m asked to tell how I got the tarot cards because a few weeks prior they were on another continent.

the tarot cards are the main object of this event which the audience expected to be a contemporary dance piece. but that’s another story.

The practice of It could be community is very new and because of its fluid form, it creates and determines itself always from the beginning, growing from the fertile sedimentation of previous experiences. Housing the practice in the Richter Collection, in the frame of Lorgennale, gave the practice an interesting layering of contextualization, since Lorgennale is the festival in living rooms, and our space was a memorial apartment of a dead artist and his wife, in other words, a simulation of a living room. So everything what was going on in the room became in a way fictionalized, as if it hung in a certain crack in the space-time continuum, and yet it consisted of happening in real time. This specific atmosphere in the room was hard to nominate , but somehow there was a feeling that everybody it the room was very aware of the twist in time, space, and meaning. This gave us a very unexpected, yet strong feeling of connection with the group, like we all have had been part of an experimental east-European movie. (silvia marching)

We anyway don’t conceive of this work as a black box work, but as a collective/participatory experience for everyone involved which redistributes agency and performativity through the fact that the game is being invented while it is being played by how everyone present reacts. BUT, the fact of being in a flat that is not a private space but a public/official one simulating, or actually performing, privacy of a public persona – being a memorial flat – with all the real objects suspended into being a fiction, helped to convey an unspoken parameter of our work – that every object/gesture/person in the game is simultaneously real and a fiction/performance/metaphor, in the same way as the tarot cards are symbolic, but also concrete, archetypal but also random, mundane, screens for projection of individual desires and agencies.

»I think the experience will stay with us as an inspiration of how to further keep on setting the settings for playing the game and understanding through what elements it can be opening up performativity of participants, as well as how spatial/contextual set-up of the game can inform/help the dramaturgy of the work.« sonja pregrad

I started the night with a lack of energy, even though on the way here I drank red bull. but I don’t need red bull, I need human touch. the four months I spent in solitude have sent me into flight mode – I’m functioning, but I lack signal. every time I arrive at alcatrazagreb and I shut the door behind me I feel a club/bat hitting me in the head propelling me straight to bed. but in richter’s living-room there’s something cool happening and I’m getting energized. I talk about dora, my first psychotherapist. I tried to contact her this year and I found out she’s dead. it seemed so unnatural that healers die too. others also talk about death, but not in a morbid way. only darko is resisting the direction in which the evening is headed, under the warm gaze of the former master of the house. but he doesn’t irritate me anymore, even though he’s the only one who didn’t bring a home object as an entry ticket. his contrarian attitude is ultimately beneficial to the theatrics of the evening. by the end of the performance my signal is back.

after I get out of the taxi I find there’s an office party in the museum. I go in as if it were my home, I go straight for the food, I fill my plate before even taking off my coat. I drink another whiskey-cola and I crawl to the second shelf of the fridge.


room no. 4

the third room is in the apartment of a cultural journalist. she’s not home, she’s visiting her boyfriend for a week and left antoni and katharina in her place. it wasn’t easy to find an apartment where artists could live and perform. we found this one at the last minute, thanks to sonja, and it turned out to be the best solution, as it often happens.

the moment I entered the apartment I wanted to stay there, far away from the concrete monster that was swallowing me whole every night.

I’ve been in this building before. I ate turkey in this building. before I left for solitude, at a party with the last people from what I could call »my generation«, I was invited to a thanksgiving dinner. after countless dinners and potlucks this summer, in four months of residency in serbia and croatia, that evening at sonja’s, somebody cooked for me for the first time. after dessert, I hopped on a tram to autobusni kolodvar and so began the trip to stuttgart.

it was also from autobusni kolodvar that I arrived at baruna filipovica. the flixbus bus arrived early and I was aimlessly looking for them on the platforms. I ran into antoni and katharina in front of the bus station. I had met antoni before, at the otopeni airport, where we had a late breakfast: coffee and croissants. during that talk I got the idea to invite him to zagreb.

not just the room, but the whole apartment looked warm and friendly. it look like a place where people live. strangely, the bedroom doesn’t have a door, and most of the doors have only one doorknob, on the inside. the most important thing is that now it’s furnished with friends.

rule no. 1 at the lorgennale: the performance must take place in an inhabited apartment. I look through the kitchen filled with nice and colorful things and I feel a knot in my stomach thinking that I would go back to the belly of the mastodon, where I would need an astronaut suit to protect myself from the inner void. I leave chewing on my frustration, in the tram, in front of the museum, waiting for the guards to let me in because it’s after 10 o’clock, in the elevator, in the studio, in my sleep.

in the room there’s a couch, many books, some piled up on the floor. the books are the friendliest presence in the house. the pillows on the couch will soon be on the floor. the paintings on the walls will come alive during the performance. pillows, paintings, an LCD screen which we’ll be using in the performance. but that’s another story.

The thing that really made performing SOMAPHONY in an apartment a truly different experience – apart from the closeness to the audience (I could almost hear them breathing) – was that I never before was scared to knock down a TV or a flower vase if I moved too expressively. (Katharina)

The challenge was to find an adequate micro-format and embed the work organically into the apartment space. The main difference is that you can’t work with the scale and the impact of the big stages, instead I experimented with the domestic context and focused on many little details to bring a different perspective to the domestic environment.

»The new thing for us is the realization that SOMAPHONY – which was originally developed for a stage setting – can be successfully adapted to a site-specific format, where the space can be visually and sonically altered into one integrated performative room installation. SOMAPHONY transformed a cosy-looking, nice apartment – without any change of the furniture – into what eventually looked like an alien space station.« Katharina+ Antoni

the owner of the apartment could not come to the show, so my beloved trinity of host-artist-audience remained unfulfilled. after the show we go out for beers, then I stay in the apartment, in the room made out of a bed called sarcophagus. the door doesn’t close. I wake up from my sleep shouting something in romanian. in the morning katharina and antoni tell me that they too had nightmares. curiously, in the museum I didn’t have strange dreams, so it seems that my nightmares don’t care where I lay down to sleep. before I head off to a student’s radio station, where I’ll be talking about lorgennale, we have breakfast together. coffee and croissants, of course.

room no. 3

the room is completely empty. it’s in an old building in the old town, near the museum of broken relationships. actually, the apartment on the first floor, reachable by massive wooden stairs from a patio, became the office of the museum workers. the building, the apartment, the room are in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in zagreb, near the main national institutions. it’s a hilly area, you can’t get there without feeling short of breath, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while, like me.

the room is empty and while writing this, I instantly want to continue by saying: and so are we.

it’s cold. although furniture doesn’t keep us warm, an empty room always seems colder. it’s a bourgeois apartment, with a long hallway, white walls, high ceiling, shiny wooden floors. in the kitchen, the two plastered angels watching from the windowsill make me think of wings of desire. I don’t know anything about the history of the place and I never will. I hope the performance of mercy will bring some social warmth to this space.

later, on the second day of lorgennale, the room will be filled with chairs, tables, and with the objects that will prove to be important in the course of the evening. and people. they will socialize, drink hot wine and one by one they will disappear in the next room, where the performance takes place. but that’s another story.

Private space was used in order to mimic a place for family gathering in which the personal stories where shared, falsified and repeated. As a performer I was challenged by a space without the »fourth wall« – which represents the contract between the public and the actors in theatre and gives a shelter to the performer. Since the public in this piece was nevertheless divided in two different spaces: a nursery room where the stories were told and a dining room where the public waited. the challenge was how to organize these spaces.

The performance dealt with the idea of home as a non-place. In the world of precarious working conditions artists are often forced to change their residence following the rhythm of projects. I was curious to find out if it is possible to carry parts of »home« along this journey and what are these parts made of. Before coming to the performance, the public brought photos of what represents home for them. At the end of this experience I was left with these artifacts of home and the many questions that they raised. mila pavicevic

room no. 2

the neighborhood is called borongaj. after the car leaves the boulevard, it takes me through many narrow streets and a highway so eventually I lose hope of finding my way back on my own. after we finally get out of the car, zagreb feels like a large city. all the surrounding building blocks have corrugated metal rooftops. this precisely is the reason why I came to borongaj. I’m looking for a building block from the socialist era for the first day of lorgennale. this is where sonja lives, whom I met on that day and she accepted to host an event a few minutes after we met. so I came to see the apartment.

it’s already nighttime, so I can’t see the buildings, but they look like a quilt with different colors and textures. going into the building, I see a fire extinguisher. on the halls there are flower pots, piles of stuff, shoes. wooden doors. wooden railings. on the walls, wooden boards. on the floor, wood. wood, wood, wood. the apartment is long and has many closets and storage spaces from different times and social understandings. in the living-room where the event will take place there’s an old armchair that belonged to sonja’s father, an office stacked with papers, a bookcase with glass doors, a rolled up carpet/moquette, a rolled up tapestry, a table, an office chair, and several other things which we moved to other corners of the house too fast to tell what they were. a few days later, a nice boy from the pogon association came to bring a professional screen. so professional, in fact, that it took him two hours to set it up. after he set it up, the three of us had dinner together.

an ordinary, humane, living-room. I would fill my lungs with its familiar and messy air like it was an oxygen tank. it was only for a short while, but nonetheless it saved me. on the first day of lorgennale, there were about 10 or 12 people, they ate popcorn and drank while watching the documentary Common Ground. in the next room, a tiny bedroom also like a sarcophagus, a woman was tied up the whole evening. but that’s another story, a video-art story.

room no. 1

since the first edition of Guinness Book

all human activities have a superlative

a pinnacle

the largest collection of Dwarfs (1061)

the man with the stretchiest skin (15.8 cm)

the woman with biggest beard (27.9 cm)

the youngest father in the world (12 years)

the human body with the most spoons attached (50)

most people applying facial masks for 10 minutes at the same time (1213)

only after the publication of this poem

will people find out who holds the record of

the most home alone person (#)

let’s see then

calls and visits

translation by Nicoleta Hutanu