December 2008

Mensch-Machine

It is the desire to occupy a place from which one can take everything in, first and foremost visually, but also orally and audibly, that renders the theatre and theatricality so suspect.

– Samuel Weber, Theatricality as Medium, Fordham University Press, New York, 2004, p. 7

Samuel Weber calls Plato’s ‘cave’ in The Republic a theatre. He calls for a mediumistic interpretation of theatricality. I would rather consider the cave in Plato’s story theatrical on the basis of its exaggeration, its blatant artificiality. Theatricality, then, is problematic for being artificial by nature, rather than suspect for interesting us in its panoptic potential. This view of theatre includes the impression it gives of potentially showing everything and when Weber calls on Walter Benjamin’s notion of allegory to attest to the extra, the remainder, of what is in excess of the signifying system or regime installed by theatricality, he is sensitive to what I would more readily like to call exaggeration.

If Plato’s theatricality is not in the image he has chosen but first and foremost in his choice of adding a theatrical dimension, what we have in the ‘cave’ is indeed theatre by way of metaphor. The thought behind it has chosen a theatrical metaphor and done so not to express a theatrical truth or truth about theatre and its placing and setting of us up to see, hear and taste (? Weber writes ‘orally’) everything but to stage a truth about everything or set up a theatrical stage in order for that truth to be represented: the theatrical is constituted here by its metaphoricity. I would prefer to contrast this metaphoricity of the thought as it is theatricalised and/or performed with a theatricality particular in every instance of performance, a theatricality, that is, of theatre as it is thought. The theatre of thought depends on a generality, that supplied by metaphoricity. The thought of theatre is used to find a way to express and analyse the problematic natural artificiality we call theatricality.

As a note further on this line: I was reminded of the difference and the difference in relation to difference of theatricality and metaphoricity watching a DVD of Kraftwerk’s Minimum-Maximum. This is Kraftwerk in performance – which means doing not much apart from standing in a row in front of identical keyboards… while behind them a three-part screen explodes with all sorts, carefully contrived and often synched up with the songs, of graphic illustration.

I was struck by how innately theatrical the machine is. And it is so without speaking of our desire to see, hear, touch, taste, experience everything through our senses. It’s not its prosthetic McCluhan dimension that makes the machine dynamically theatrical, it is its strong artificiality. And this is where the risk lies, the danger: machines are sexy and dangerous. If they are prosthetic, the danger appears to lie in their exaggeration of single qualities, speed for example, strength, tele-vision. That they are machines makes them theatrical. Machines stage their own risky qualities. They make what they do obvious. They exaggerate. And this constitutes their appeal.

Machine designs are often said to be ‘revolutionary.’ I don’t think this is an entirely baseless description but applies less to the superfices of the machine than to its artifice: what it does AND what it stages. The delicious threat of being replaced or degraded by or upgraded to a machine exists and is compelling because robots are to the nth degree not us. The Big Other is a robot. We are literally upstaged by robots. Which is why robots are the future. (& Crime Oil – which is a trademark: contact for your order now.)

From the more limited point of view of metaphoricity, machines virtualise, become virtual, in the sense of virtual reality. They are put to work at creating a moral image, much like the ‘cave”s use of a theatrical metaphor. Virtual reality is only sexy and dangerous to the extent that the artifice is highlighted, that it exaggerates us, itself or not us. The appeal of Second Life appears to lie directly in this performative dimension of prostheses or body modification. And the appeal of talking about Second Life or the immersive experience appears to have more to do with real-world implications on the nexus between artifice and nature, which is exactly that realm opened up, I would suggest, by the problematic of theatricality. In other words, our self-performance in virtual reality really really happens. It is exaggerated and signposts its artificiality. It takes place not within theatricality as a medium but theatricality as a problematic field.

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Mutants, a Kennedy and the Lula: the dictatorship in Brazil has not ended

– back row (left to right): Arnaldo Baptista, Caetano Veloso (holding portrait of bossa nova & MPB singer, Nara Leão), Rita Lee, Sérgio Dias and Tom Zé
– front row (right to left): Torquato Nelo (lyricist-poet), Gal Costa (born Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos, somewhat resentfully renamed by Caetano Veloso), Gilberto Gil (holding portrait of José Carlos Capinan (songwriter, poet, writer, advertising agent, doctor), Rogério Duprat (composer & arranger, holding a potty, & producer, in-studio-sound-sculptor – in a George Martin sense)

(if you click on the above image it will take you to the production company working on the Os Mutantes documentary, Bread & Circuses, for which the trailer appears at the bottom of this post)

Sérgio Dias of Os Mutantes (the original backing band to the whole Tropicália resistance movement, which comprised him, his brother, Arnaldo Baptista, and Rita Lee) was interviewed for the sleeve notes for Tropicália: é proibido proibir. [Soul Jazz Records, SJR CD 118, 2005] Asked when the dictatorship ended in Brazil, Sérgio answered:

It didn’t end. Who said it ended?

[laughs] This is bullshit. I met with Ted Kennedy in 1984 in the United States. I was playing there. He invited me to go to his boat and we were in Nantucket. And I though, ‘God, if I’m going to be patriotic, it’s now or never.’ So, I told the guy, I said, ‘Listen, you have to do something about Brazil.’

He got so sober immediately and then, this is 1984, he told me about Lula … He knew the name! ‘This guy, the guy who’s out there, Lula, he will never make it.’

They were watching us! And this guy that is there now, Lula, is not the same Lula that, that I used to know – he’s compromised. And what’s the best way of destroying a people? Give them the power, then show the corruption – which is happening now and it’s destroying Brazilian government top to bottom.

It’s ridiculous. So, that’s very bad. We’re in a very bad situation. But it’s good because it is like this, you know: Something is going to come out of it.

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The Terror Egg, Dignity before Life, Exile & N-exile: Manea’s Iron Defence of Irony, & how to gain entry to the past, an Anti-Pedagogy: the lessons of pride and solitude

to denounce the Big Lie that encased our lives like the thin shell of an egg … As you touched it, the membrane burst, and you suddenly found yourself alone and helpless, at the mercy of a whip wielded by authority. … The Big Lie, like a new placenta, prevented us from both dying and being born. One imprudent gesture and the filmy membrane exploded. You had to hold your breath and check yourself constantly, so that your mouth, choked with lies big and small, did not let out, involuntarily, the breath of air that could have shattered the protective cocoon. In fact, we were constantly wrapping the eggshell in other coverings, one inside another, like a nest of Russian dolls. So, what was this blessed Big Lie? … The membrane of lies had become, for many, a thick protective coating, dense, indestructible, resistant to cracking. … the penal colony of the Big Lie – the prisoners were condemned to compulsory happiness.

I did not puncture that filmy membrane. … I ignored, as well as I could, the shell under which I went about my business. …

– Norman Manea, The Hooligan’s Return, trans. Angela Jianu, pp. 196-197

… the publisher … wrote: “You were an eyewitness, and as a writer you must react.” Publicly decoding his life, writing a personal memoir? Cioran had warned about it: “A cinder bath, a good exercise in self-incineration.” It would be like peeling away one’s skin, layer after layer, in competition with the tell-all confessions of television talk shows or the self-revelations of group therapy.

“I am in favour of forced migration,” Ion Antonescu, Marshal of Romania, army commander, and leader of the Romanian state, declared in the summer of 1941. “I do not care whether we shall go down in history as barbarians. The Roman Empire committed many barbaric acts and yet it was the greatest political establishment the world has ever seen.” The noble barbarian [cf. Cioran] did not want to miss the opportunity afforded him of at last eradicating the national pest. “Our nation has not known a more favourable moment in its history. If need be, shoot,” Hitler’s ally declared.

– Ibid., p. 224

Nothing was more important than survival, Mother kept saying … The logic on which my father had built his life was now useless. … He could accept death, but not humiliation. Risking everything, he recoiled in disgust from the grim truth of his present reality. He did not become servile and hypocritical, as was demanded of the slaves; he would not surrender his dignity. His wife didn’t care about such idiocies, but he did. The black market in sentiment, not only in aspirin or bread, that prevailed in the camps, disgusted him, and so did the barbarity of victims determined to save themselves at any cost from the barbarity the oppressors. Monster-executioners breed monster-victims, he used to repeat in his soft but determined voice.

– Ibid, p. 228

“You won’t believe it, but I finally gave in and signed. There was no choice. They also gave me a code name, ‘Alin.'”

The name the policemen had chosen for him was the very pen name their new informant used for the poetry and theatre reviews he published in literary magazines. Let this be a lesson for him; both vocations, poet and informant, after all, probe the mystery in which we all hide.

– Ibid., p. 230

Would Comrade Doctor allow himself to be psychoanalysed by a patient obsessed with the comedy of double roles? Could the poet find the lyric correlative of duplicitous chaos, conducted on the surface by the masked men of power and perpetuated, underground, by the venom of resentment?

The patient’s questions quickly rebounded back to himself, as though he had borrowed the doctor’s mannerisms and was able to read the theme of the psychiatric session with closed eyes: the Initiation after the Initiation. Or should it be called adaptation? And what exactly did the survivor adapt to? A familiar question. Over a decade later, it would also be asked by an American psychiatrist. The answer was familiar, too: The patient adapted to life, as simple as that. Indeed, it is to life that all survivors adapt, whether they are survivors of black, green, or red dictatorships. They do so with that impertinence of normality which is life itself. This was how I summarised my own biography on the eve of exile, an experiment no less educational than the preceding ones.

How can one be a writer if one has no freedom was the dilemma posed by the American psychiatrist, an expert in the psychoses of freedom in the New World. The question would have sounded like a bad joke if uttered by his East European counterpart, but an exchange of expertise between the specialist in the pathology of constraint and the analyst of freedom’s traumas would not have been useless. The psychiatrists of these two very different worlds would have discovered many surprising resemblances alongside the differences.

The freedom of the New Man meant accepting necessity – this was what doctor and patient had learned from the Marxist dialecticians of a party that became less Marxist every day: necessity, hence adaptation; adaptation, hence pragmatism: hence, accepted necessity. Adaptation to life, Doctor, this was the task facing the apprentice in the banality served pedagogically by daily life. Life, that was all. In the East, in the West, in the cosmos.

– Ibid., p. 238

More time has now passed. You have learned the joys and the maladies of liberty. You have accepted the honour of exile. … “The return to the homeland is but a return to the mother’s grave” …

You were, you told yourself, in the living present, not in the ever-present past.

– Ibid., p. 247

“The place of our truth is here. We are writers, we have no other solution,” she had said. I was familiar with such banalities. I myself had once been a victim of misery’s pride, it had often fed my despair.

– Ibid., p. 259

“Maybe you should wander around America a bit,” he said. But that advice was followed, thank God, not by a list of places to visit but by another prolonged silence.

“You can’t have better lessons in solitude anywhere else.”

– Ibid., p. 309

The wall behind the bed is cold in the blackness of the night.

– Ibid., 373

“Poetry, the lie detector prone to burst into tears.” The shadows and the clowns take off their masks, their prostheses, leave aside their crutches, and line up into a neat row of phosphorescent letters: “Florin Mugur – Poet – 1932-1991.” I am alive, still alive, for yet another living moment, leaning against the gravestone of Florin Mugur …

– Ibid., p. 377

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excerpts from “Bush’s cultural legacy” – The Guardian, Friday October 31 2008. … What’s Helen’s?

Joyce Carol Oates:
If Obama wins, very likely there would be an efflorescence of a kind, perhaps most evident in the more public artforms – dance, music, theatre.

Gore Vidal:
Oliver Stone, I gather, is doing father-and-son stories. I’m very fond of Oliver, but you don’t need Freud when you’re dealing with Caligula.

Art is always needed in a country that doesn’t much like it. Performance is all anybody cares about.

Paul Miller:
Usually when you have a rightwing lunatic such as Nixon, or more cynical regimes such as Reagan or Bush I’s administration, there’s a counterpoint. What ended up happening with Bush II is that the counter-culture response became incoherent.

The “culture-entertainment” industry is different now. They realise that the idea of rebellion can be made into an echo-chamber and sold back to you.

Britney Spears giving herself a haircut or the “hyper-realism” of the execution of Saddam Hussein spreading like video wildfire on people’s cellphones. It’s incoherence – montaged and edited a la Oliver Stone.

Elizabeth LeCompte:
The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and South Park are all political works of art. Without the Bush administration I don’t think satire would have been as strong. It revived irony.

Theatre in America is in decline, however. A lot of the people who would have been writing for the theatre 100 years ago are now writing in television. In America, all art is denigrated, basically, with the possible exception of music. Written and spoken arts aren’t taken seriously here, and I don’t think they’ve ever been.

Edward Albee:
We have an administration of criminality, complicity and incompetence but no cultural legacy whatever from those eight years. It doesn’t seem to have produced the kind of rage that I would have expected it to. It shows me that we have a far more passive and ignorant society than I thought we had.

Somebody asked Beckett once why he writes if he’s such a pessimist. He said, “If I were a pessimist I wouldn’t write.”

Alex Gibney:
Unintentionally, the administration provoked a lot of political art that I think was very valuable.

It contributed to an extraordinary flowering of political documentaries – and not necessarily pure anti-Bush ones. The administration provoked a thoughtfulness, both in aesthetic terms and in terms of political thinking, that expressed itself in documentaries in a very exciting way. Iraq in Fragments, for instance, was a beautiful film – not overtly political but political in a deeper sense.

Lionel Shriver:
Hate figures are far more motivating than heroes, and W has graciously provided the collectively leftwing artistic community an embarrassment of riches. In fact, the biggest problem with the Bush era’s artistic legacy is that this widely despised president has tended to inspire polemics and agitprop. Many novels, films, plays, and artworks from the last eight years have been spitting with indignation, painfully obvious in their political intent, sledgehammer subtle in their execution, and clubby – since most of these works are preaching to the converted. Thus W may have bequeathed a whack of subject matter, but whether any of this stuff will be of enduring value is open to question. You have to ask yourself whether the diatribes denouncing Bush in a novel, such as JM Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year (a book trying enough when it was published in 2007), will hold the faintest interest after January 2009.

And here’s the really bad news: Obama could be terrible for the arts. Why, when there’s barely an artist in the States who doesn’t support him? Art thrives on resistance.

Trisha Brown:
I was so in love with art-making – but I’m tired of the suppression of arts and I’ve shifted into other disciplines to find vitality and exchange.

Naomi Wolf:
there’s something about the brute force of this administration, and the fetishisation of brute force by this administration, which literally stands in opposition to civilisation and the arts.

I’ve done a lot of work on Germany from the Weimar period to the late 30s. There was a similar hostility then to the cosmopolitan, the urbanite, the avant garde, to any originality in art. Some of the most interesting visual artists we’ve seen in recent times, for example, were working behind the iron curtain, and of course, they had to work allegorically.

Much of the protest work I’ve seen [in America] has been very bad, pedantic, heavy-handed. I’ve seen so many bad monologues about the Iraq war, so many dreadful photo-montages. I think it’s because Americans don’t quite understand repression yet.

Usually writers are at the forefront of denouncing a regime: look at Václav Havel. Here, people have complained a lot, but in terms of organising a vanguard of resistance, of people getting out there and saying this is not the American way … Where is the Arthur Miller of this generation? Who is out front, somewhere visible and tricky and scary?

Daniel Libeskind:
At Ground Zero, we’re not sure if the performing arts centre planned will ever happen. This was a key part of the masterplan, but all that’s mattered in the World of Bush is the workings, and failures, of the market economy. So, Ground Zero could yet end up, unless we get a sympathetic new president, as a purely commercial venture.

[full text available here]

Where is there a similar attempt to question, articulate or even consider Helen Clark’s legacy? Whether political, polemical or cultural?

You are welcome to a submit comment to this post … by way of protest, restitution or recapitulation: What is Helen Clark’s cultural legacy?

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seriously, EVERYONE SHUT UP! and let’s talk seriously about art, the gentle art of placation :«Всем молчать!»

Field (Поле), gold leaf, black printers ink, handprint on canvas, Alexei Belyaev (Guintovt)

An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

We admit it upfront: we don’t care much for the artist Alexei Belyaev (Guintovt), and we don’t care about him. His art is beyond the pale of criticism, and we have never had any illusions about his political views. By the mid-1990s, he had already drifted into the orbit of Eduard Limonov’s National Bolsheviks, and he would later join Alexander Dugin’s breakaway Eurasian Movement. You do not have to be a political scientist to recognize these people for what they are: part of a reactionary global trend toward ultra-right/ultra-left nationalism. Belyaev’s statements and artworks reflect this political identity. His work glorifies violence, imperial domination, blood, soil, and war. It does this in a consciously triumphal neo-Stalinist aesthetic, mixing crimson with gold leaf to confirm its redundant imperialist messages. Some members of the local bourgeoisie are taken with this aesthetic. Fascism thus enters the salon – a salon we would rather ignore.

– Belyaev (Guintovt) in front of his Red Star (Красная звезда), 2005

We thus have no vested interest in criticizing the Kandinsky Prize. Founded on the cusp of the recent Russian art boom, this $50,000 award (with its longlist show of sixty artists) is a contemporary version of the salon, the institution that has defined art throughout the bourgeois age. Initiated by the glossy art magazine ArtKhronika, supported by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and sponsored by Deutsche Bank, the Kandinsky Prize is clearly yet another neoliberal franchise, easiest to promote with a servile, aggressively populist local contingent. Its first edition earned at least some credibility by supporting the beleaguered curator Andrei Yerofeyev and giving its top award to activist-turned-formalist Anatoly Osmolovsky. But now, as the overall socio-political situation shows signs of changing for the worse, the divided jury of the Kandinsky Prize has decided to include Belyaev in the short list of its “Artist of the Year” nomination. Belyaev, however, is a crypto-fascist. The liberal press immediately picked up this scandal. Such scandals in the salon always play into the hands of the artist, his gallery, his admirers, and the critics.
Most importantly, they promote the political views of these people. We do not share the rosy liberal illusion that the free market and the circulation of capital can fully convert any kind of engaged art, that artists like Belyaev tame and defuse potentially dangerous ideologies. Instead, the market makes them fashionable among the salon’s novelty-loving clientele in a mutated, glamorous form.

Enough about Belyaev: he deserves the Leni Riefenstahl Prize, as dissenting jury member Yerofeyev aptly put it. What is more important is that this decision is acutely symptomatic of cultural production in Russia today. It is not that the curators and critics in the jury of the Kandinsky Prize are fascist sympathizers, although “the jury’s decision can be interpreted as a show of solidarity with [Belyaev’s] position,” as Joseph Backstein, Moscow Biennale commissar, noted. The problem is that they are ultra-liberals. Their market utopianism makes no distinction between right and left, brown and red, fascism and communism; it sees irony lurking around every corner to make everything nice and normal again. “We didn’t talk about the artist’s political convictions,” says jury member Alexander Borovsky, head of the Russian Museum’s contemporary art department. Borovsky also claims that Belyaev’s work is a distanced, playful take on the etatist zeitgeist. But there is nothing playful in Belyaev’s calls for Russian tanks to roll on Tbilisi, to execute the Georgian president, to create a “Greater Serbia” or to “liberate” the former Soviet republics under the banner of a Eurasian (read: Russian) Empire. Most importantly, there is nothing playful in his art. Much of it is propaganda, and
should be judged as such.

By airbrushing Belyaev, Borovsky proves that he is indifferent to art’s political dimension. It is this indifference that unites the obscure “left-nationalist,” essentially postmodern ideology of Eurasianism and the pan-aestheticism of the Russian business and media elites who control the board of the Kandinsky Prize. “Let a thousand flowers bloom!” [Пусть цветут все цветы!] “All ideologies are equal!” [Все идеологии стоят друг друга!] “Art beyond politics!” [Искусство вне политики!] cry all these respectable people as one, thus legitimizing increasingly overt expressions of genuinely felt fascism in the public sphere.

Their indifference is a form of complicity. This indifference also extends to the non-Russian members of the jury such as future Moscow Biennale curator Jean-Hubert Martin or Guggenheim curator Valerie Hillings. They can always excuse themselves by saying that they are not really familiar with the Russian context, and were not able to participate fully in the selection of the Kandinsky Prize’s short list. But this “excuse” often disguises the cynicism of neocolonial irresponsibility, when foreign experts choose to ignore the contexts in which they plant the seeds of contemporary global culture. [my added bigness]

The local context is indeed increasingly taking on an ominous form. As prominent Russian art critic Andrei Kovalev cuttingly puts it, the presence of figures like Belyaev testifies to the “ruling elite’s rapid drift toward fascism” in a moment of crisis. This elite is
already deeply reactionary and anti-democratic, having accumulated its capital violently through shock privatization and expropriation. Five years ago, it began using contemporary art as a means of civic legitimation, establishing its hegemony over the more liberal, glamorous side of cultural life during the Putin “normalization.” The recent Russian contemporary art “boom” is closely bound up with the use of surplus oil profits, and expresses a peculiar bourgeois-progressivist self-confidence that silences any doubts about the “bright and shining” future.

In other words, the authoritarian undertone has always been there. For example, when the first Moscow Biennale opened, ArtKhronika’s editor-in-chief Nikolai Molok wrote an editorial entitled, “Everyone Shut Up!” in which he ordered the art scene to suspend criticism and be thankful for what they had received. Now ArtKhronika prints sympathetic interviews with Belyaev. Molok defends the artist’s creative position, saying it “expresses the tendency of state-building” with its search for a “great style.” Does he mean that, after the petrodollars dry up, Russian state-building will consist of militarism and neo-imperial claims? Does the Kandinsky Prize want to tell us that a corresponding style of engaged art is already a legitimate part of the Russian public sphere?

© Алексей Беляев-Гинтовт

© Алексей Беляев-Гинтовт

“Everyone shut up!” This is the result of fifteen years of Russian society’s political degradation, and the conclusion of the epoch of transnational privatization. It has left society bereft of even the most basic tools for critical analysis, democratic discussion, civic consciousness, and class solidarity. We call upon artists, critics, editors, and art lovers to boycott the Kandinsky Prize and to distance themselves from its model of valorization. We call upon anyone still capable of critical thought to interrupt the fascistoid dreams of the Russian elite and the apolitical indifference of those who follow in their wake.

Vpered (Forward!) Socialist Movement
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theatre of communitage: “in any place, but not in a special place” – Augusto Boal

– Augusto Boal

Excerpts from Tom Magill’s interview with Augusto Boal [full text here]:

Communitage:

The word community, communitage in Portuguese, we use to define sometimes a region of the city, e.g., a slum. In this state there is a communitage within that slum. Sometimes we can talk about also the communitage of psychiatric hospitals or we can talk about the communitage of a trade union for instance, so the word communitage / community has not the same meaning as it has in English, and of course they don’t have theatre inside those communities.

a community having the same interests without specialities:

In slums there is no theatre, only one slum which is an area called Digegow, in Rio, has a community and curiously, Cicerly Berry, who is the great teacher of voice of the Royal Shakespeare Company, when she went to Brazil twice she went to that community in the slums to teach the people how to pronounce better, how to free their voices. And so community means that. It means a group of people who can be located geographically or because they have the same interests and they don’t have specialities so there is not a difference between that community theatre and the other forms because they don’t have other forms. And then we worked with those communities to make them produce theatre.

A “community theatre” is a special place in New Zealand, or, in the Boal’s example, the US
:

… it is only for that region or whatever you know. It’s not in our case, our poor communities or workers’ communities. They don’t have theatre at all and then what they make is not creative theatre. But to help them make theatre, wherever, in any place, but not a special place, that is our task.

On building bulwarks:

all the barriers have been collapsing already and now what I think we should reinforce are some barriers instead of collapsing them. Building new walls against racism which is one of the horrible things that exist in the world. A wall against intolerance which is not accepting and is a form of racism, not accepting the existence of the other one. The wall against sexism which enslaves half of humanity – women. A wall against globalisation which makes all of us become clones of ourselves to become robots, so now is the moment to build barriers, to build walls and to fight against intolerance, against racism, sexism and globalisation, to fight vigorously against that.

On political and theatrical representation:

Democracy is a very beautiful system but has this inconvenience. You have extreme power in your hands and when you vote you lose that power. It’s a paradoxical reality and then you’re going to get power again, 2, 4, 8 years later to vote again and to lose your power the moment you exert your power. You use your power you lose it, and then we thought during this time how can we make the citizen be aware of what’s going on? To delegate power to the other ones is so horrible. When you delegate power you lose your power and then you become a spectator of that person. You may have confidence in the person, you may trust them, but it is something that when you speak with your voice and something else when someone speaks in your place. When someone speaks in your place, even if it’s an honest person, intelligent person, creative person, but that person will never translate correctly what you want to say.

On participation including both amateur and professional:

if everyone did theatre the professional theatre would be full every day because they would like to see what the other ones are doing. So sometimes professional theatre is not so interesting to the population because the population does not practice theatre. If you do theatre all of the time then you want to see a play done by others. The more you develop theatre inside the population in general, the more you create conditions for having bigger audiences, a more interested audience, more participation from the audience.

On copying methodologies:

I think that the bad results can come from an automatic, a mechanical transposition forcing a method that is flexible and not stratified, so if it serves as an inspiration it is good.

On the invention of theatre from rebellion – jumping out of not into the chorus:

If I think about the Ancient Greeks, the one who influenced me very much was Thespis. Why Thespis? Because he was the first person who was in a chorus in the dithyrambic chorus singing all disciplined the song that the poet had written and dancing the movements of the choreographer and saying what was the acceptable official story so he jumped out of that and refused to be inside the chorus and said what he really thought. So this act of rebellion, he invented the theatre with this act of rebellion when he went out and said I don’t agree with it, the chorus singing in poetry and he answering, replicating in prose. So this act of rebellion for me is extraordinary. A man invented the theatre. In this act of rebellion he jumped out of the chorus.

On funding:

I am a professional, we should have our money from the government because art in most cases is not self sufficient, you need sponsorship. But, we should have a balance, popular art should be developed for its own benefit and for the benefit of art in general.

(Augusto Boal was nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

It was awarded to Martti Ahtisaari.)

Augusto Boal was arrested in 1972 after the publication of Theatre of the Oppressed. Following a brief outbreak of democracy, Brazil had been returned to a military dictatorship – by coup – in 1964. Censorship was most intense over the period 1968-73.

Boal was imprisoned, suffered various types of torture, over a four month period, until he was eventually, like Caetano Veloso, deported.

He returned to Brazil in 1986 and has since then worked in Brazil and throughout the world on / in the theatre of the oppressed. Turning sixty-five in 1996, he was refused his pension on the grounds that he remained classified as a ‘menace to the state.’

International pressure on the Brazilian government to grant Boal the pension increased when it became widely known in 2005 that this classification still had not been revoked.

Is Boal still an unpensioned enemy of the state?

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representing the metaverse, stage by stage

– Micha’s dragon’s skeleton

Micha Cárdenas’s Becoming Dragon questions the one year requirement of Real Life Experience that transgender people must fulfill in order to receive Gender Confirmation Surgery (Sexual Reassignment Surgery), and asks if this could be replaced by one year of Second Life Experience to lead to Species Reassignment Surgery. For the performance, Micha Cárdenas will live for 365 hours immersed in Second Life with a head mounted display, so that all she will see is Second Life, and a motion capture system to
map her movements into Second Life. The performance is Micha’s final MFA project at University of California’s San Diego campus.

Read Micha’s live blogging from Second Life during the performance here.

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the problematic structure of recollection / … acting & asujetti

Recollection is defined both in relation to the perception with which it is contemporaneous and the following moment in which it prolongs itself. Reuniting the two senses produces a bizarre impression: that of acting and being ‘acted’ upon at the same time.
– Gilles Deleuze, quoted in Difference and Givenness, Levy Bryant, p. 126

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