Četvrtak, 28. jun, 19:00, Mala sala DKSG
Теl: +381 11 3191 108 Моb: +381 62 267 843
Naš gost – PJER MEREŠKOVSKI (Pierre Merejkowsky), Pariz
režiser, scenarista, glumac, kompozitor, tonski snimatelj
Učestvuju Nina Živančević i autor
Razgovor vodi Miroljub Stojanović
I deo – projekcija kratkih filmova Mereškovskog
- BILA JEDNOM JEDNA EKOLOGIJA (Il été une fois ecologie), 12 min.
- LE CASTING, 1min.
II deo- razgovor s autorom i projekcija dugometražnog LJUDI PROROCI (Les hommes prophetiques),108 min.
Petak, 29 jun, 19:00 Parobrod,
Kapetan-Mišina 6a, Beograd Tel +381 11 4142163
- Dugometražni film ČTO DELAT /Que Faire
Utorak, 3 jul, 20:00 Kinoteka, Beograd
- POST VIEW 4 min, IN REGARDS TO Eric P.,6 min., i THERE WAS ONCE ECOLOGY (Il était une fois l’écologie) 12 min.
- MALI RAT, 50 min. praćeno komentarom autora o njegovom filmu i savremenom francuskom filmu
Petak, 6 jul, 19:00 Muzej Savremene Umetnosti Vojvodine,
Dunavska 37, Novi Sad, Telefon:+381 21 526634
- ČTO DELAT (Que Faire) i
- kratkometražni: IN REGARDS TO ERIC P. 6mn, DAWN 8mn, POST VIEW 4 mn, THERE WAS ONCE ECOLOGY 10 mn engleski titl
Kratak komentar postprodukcije. Učestvuju Nina Živančević-Mereškovska i Autor
Nekoliko reci o PJERU MERESKOVSKOM
Uvek je tesko govoriti o bliskim osobama jer ono sto coveku prvo padne na pamet dok govori o nekom bliskom moze da bude vrlo banalno- ako bi me neko pitao sta sam ja naucila od Pjera Mereskovskog a sta mi prvo pada na um je uzasna radna disciplina koja je verovatno njegovo rusko nasledje, a tu je mozda i kljuc za delo njegovih predhodnika, pisca Dimitri Mereskovskog i Zinaide Ksipius, njegove bake i velike ruske pesnikinje koji su gotovo ceo zivot, nakon Ruske revolucije proveli u izgnanstvu. Ono sto je zanimljiv momenat jeste da su oni pobegli od Boljsevika, i od Lenjinovog komunizma, da bi mu se Pjer vratio kao veliki francuski autor i reditelj, militant levice koja se granici sa verom u individualno “ja”, stvaralastvom autora anarhiste.
A onda, ceo Pierov rad na filmu, oko 50 produkcija do danas, koji se zasniva ne samo na Godarovom nasledju, Godar njegov veliki ucitelj i inspiracija, ali tu su i skole velikih ruskih prethodnika- LJUDI PROROCI kao i CTO DELAT ili Mali Rat su filmovi radjeni pod znakom Ajzenstajna, Medvedkina i Brehtovog teatra. Za Merezkovskog snimanje je pre svega metod preispitivanja slike, CTO djelat sa slikom? On preispituje publiku kao i temu, pravi sadrzaj filma, sto predstavlja tehniku blisku Brehtovoj metodi uspostavljanja objektivne distance. U CTO DELAT kao i kasnije u LJUDIMA PROROCIMA Maoisticki metod ankete ili preispitivanja bio je baza za stvaranje kinematografije koja je bila u stanju da prikaze kontradiktornosti u svakodnevnoj stvarnosti koju je prikazivala. Ova kinematografija se bori protiv naturalizma, istovremeno pokusavajuci da odbaci ideju da je snimanje neke revolucionarne akcije dovoljno po sebi da bi takav film nazvali “revolucionarnim”. Od pocetka svog filmskog opusa Mereskovski se zanimao za razlicite nacine koji bi publici ne samo okupirali gledalacku paznju vec i koji bi ih drzali stalno u stanju angazovane aktivnosti ponavljajuci tvrdnju da je ambijentalni naturalizam neka vrsta drustvene igre koju igra drustvo da bi nas nateralo da prihvatimo njegove postulate. On to cini, u procesu rezije, verovatno imajuci Brehtov postulat na umu koji tvrdi “da nista ne bi trebalo smatrati prirodnom pojavom u smislu da bi svaka pojava ili dogadjaj mogli da postanu predmet drustvene promene”.
Jedna od aleatornih tehnickih metoda ponavljanja u filmu je kvalitet zvuka koji se pretvara cesto u kakofoniju razlicitih glasova i razgovora. Na primer cesto se javlja asinhronican zvuk u filmu koji nas navodi da se zapitamo kako u potrazi za “radnickom istinom” reditelj dolazi do asinhronicnog zvuka. Mozda, ako kazemo da je ovaj zvuk proizvod tehnickog ogranicenja koji je posledica ekonomskog ogranicenja pri snimanju, opazamo da je proizveden neki drugi efekat koji se ne tice iskljucivo estetskog kvaliteta u filmu vec koji ima veze sa filmskom politickom akcijom koja zeli da ukine naturalizam i trudi se da probudi kriticku distancu u citaocu. Prisustvo ovakvog zvuka u filmu dovodi nas do pitanja koje vecina militantnih filmova nakon 1968 postavlja u procesu rezije-: kako cemo zabeleziti na filmskoj traci marginalizovani ili cesto priguseni govor koji je negde zabelezen i koji verovatno nesto znaci? Odgovor Mereskovskog nije jednostavan- on nas navodi da verujemo da takva vrsta prigusenog govora ne nastaje slucajno vec je prethodno konstruisan, usiljen i stalno u traganju za odredjenom sinhronizacijom.
Mereskovski ili kako ga kolege zovu “Merez” cesto insistira na trebljenju slika van njihovog obicnog i prirodnog konteksta da bi ih smestio u odredjeni millieux i specificni istorijski kontekst. Ako pod datim svetlom iscitavamo njegov film CTO DELAT pomislicemo da je reditelj “u sluzbi” revolucije, marksizma i radnicke klase, isto kao sto kod Lindzi Andersona, donekle kod Slezingera ili Andree Arnold Merezove generacije, gledaoci veruju da gledaju nesto iz odredjenog kolektiva odredjene klase; pa opet, glas reditelja/snimatelja/ autora ce se glasno pobuniti protiv odrednica poput “beo” ili “crn” gde nema dublje mozda “politicki nekorektne” analize.
Moralno-pedagoska lekcija dovodi reditelja do ludila i on od nje bezi. Svaka vrsta eksplicitnog politickog komentara, kao i formalno pribegavanje Brehtu, Ajzenstajnu, Vertovu i drugim ruskim pobratimima dovodi ga do ludila, kao sto ga i svaki naturalizam izludjuje , bilo kom kulturno-politickom periodu da pripada. Mozda je i to nasledje francuskog novotalasnog filma koje se nije plasilo Mao Ce Tunga i Che Gevare. U ovakvom pristup filmu podvlace se jasne crte izmedju takozvane intencije autora u pogledu filma koji pravi, izmedju kriticke recepcije publike i interpretacije filma. Tradicionalnom begu od naturalizma Mereskovski dodaje svoje strategije- on nam ne samo otkriva nacine koriscenja svojih tehnika , uvodeci pritom prolazne posmatrace (slucajni prolaznik Zerara Fromanzea i Brace Dimitrijevica) u svoj film, uvodeci takodje ideju (koja bese napustena od strane boraca protiv naturalizma) da film moze biti veran nekoj istini, da od istine ne treba bezati i ako je posmatraci ne cuju, da je treba nekoliko puta u tekstu ponavljati, variranjem jacine glasa od povika do sapata..
Merezovi filmovi su neka vrsta preseka formalnih strategija jer za njega film kao umetnost predstavlja pre svega pokusaj koji se krece ka vizuelnoj polifoniji (pri ovom zadatku su mu muzicko obrazovanje i trening kompozitora neizmerno korisni). Njegov film najcesce (ovde je akcenat na « najcesce ») kombinuje militantni dokumentarac, epsko pozoriste, polifoniju glasova, neorganski i organski pristup tekstu, strategije komunikacije, genericka i formalna pomeranja oduhovljene slike , direktan pastis postmodernog francuskog filma kao i veliku Sovjetsku skolu Ruskog formalizma.
Few words about Merejkowsky Pierre
It is not easy to talk about the people we feel close to, whatever we say may appear banal- if somebody has asked me what I had learnt from Pierre Merejkowsky and that it does not appear banal is a very harsh working discipline and that probably goes way back to his Russian herritage, the very thing may be the key for understanding the work of his predecessors, the Russian writers Dimitri Merejkowsky and Zinaida Xippius, who lived their whole life in exile. What’s really interesting is that they escaped the Bolsevics, Lenin’s Communism so that Pierre, as a French author and film director could only get back to it; he’s a militant of the Left which borders on the belief in the individual “I” which characterizes the creativity of an anarchist autor.
And the we have the entire Pierre’s work on film, some 50 films until today, work which is not only founded on Godard’s heritage, as Godard was his great teacher and inspiration, but in his film work we also find the schools of his Russian film predecessors: Merejkowsky’s films such as MEN PROPHETS , QUE FAIRE (CTO DELAT) and Small War , are films which come out of the schools of Eisenstein, Medvedkin but also Brecht’s theater as well. For Merejkowsky the shooting as a procedure in film means, above all , the investigation of IMAGE, or “CTO DELAT”(what to do) with the image. He’s investigating the image as much as he investigates the theme,the real subject of the film, the technique close to Brecht’s method of establishing the objective distance. In his own CTO DELAT as much as later in MEN PROPHETS, the Maoist enquette or the investigation was the base for creating the cinematography able to show the contradictions in the contemporary reality which these contradictions tried to explain. This cinematography fights against naturalism as much as it tries to reject the idea that the shooting of a revolutionary action per se is enough for us to call such film a revolutionary one. From the start Merejkowsky was interested in different ways in which he could not only draw the public’s attention to the film, but also in the ways in which one could keep the spectator in the state of permanent active engagement. He had been repeating the fact that the naturalism of the athomsphere and landscape is more of a social game which society plays in order to make us accept their postulates. He entamed his own directing process probably thinking of Brecht who once said that “nothing could be considered a natural fact as such,this is in order that we treat each phenomenon as something natural and a potential subject to a new social change as well.”
One of Merejkowsky’s aleatory technical methods is the method of repetition which, when it comes to the treatment of sound in his films , brings us to the cacophony of different voices and sounds. For instance, there is often a asynchronic sound in the film which makes us often wonder as to how the director who searches for the “worker’s truth” ,comes to the phenomenon of the asynchronic sound. Maybe we can understand this phenomenon, if we say that this sound is the product of the limitations imposed by the technicality which was further imposed by the economic limitations on the film; in his films we can also observe that as the spectators we have arrived at something which is not only at some aesthetic effect . It is not only of the aesthetic nature but this effect became a certain political action seeking to abolish naturalism, at the same time trying to awake the critical distance in the spectator. The presence of such sound in the film brings us to the question which most militant films after 1968 : how to record the inaudiable or often marginalized speech which is somewhere hidden but probably means something else? The answer of Merejkowsky is not very simple: he makes us believe that this type of faded speech is not a by-product but that it was carefully constructed prior to the shooting of the film; as such, it is constantly in search of a certain synchronization.
Merejkowsky or, as his friends simply call him “Merej”, often insists on the pruning of the images and placing them out of their natural context so that he would place them into their specific millieux or a specific historic context. If we read in such light his film CTO DELAT we are to think that the director is in the service of the revolution, marxism or workers’ class, the way we read it with Lindsay Anderson, Schlesinger or Andrea Arnold,( the director who is more of Merej’s generation). The spectators believehere that they watch the scenes which belong to a certain class millieux, however, the director/author/technician is likely to rebell against our labeling of the scenes; “are they “black” or “white” are they “politically correct” or incorrect? “
The moral and pedagogical lesson drives the director insane and he escapes from it. Any sort of politically ouvert commentary as much as the formal treatment of it by running towards Brecht, Eisenstein, Vertov or any other Russian cousin- drives him insane; any escape towards naturalism drives him insane, no matter which cultural or political period it belongs to! Perhaps that fear belongs also to the heritage of the French New Wave, the films which were not afraid of the influence of Mao Ce Dung and Che Guevara. In such “political attitude” film there is a strong line drawn between the so called author’s intention and the critical reception of the public viewing this film; there is also the line drawn between the author’s work and the possible critical interpretation of the film. To the already traditional escape from naturalism Merejkowsky adds his own strategies : he not only directly shows us the manner of using his strategies, the one of introducing the casual passers-by (as Fromanger or Braco Dimitrijevic in their art work), but he also introduces the idea (formerly abandoned by the naturalists) that a film can serve some higher truth. We should not escape from the truth and if the spectators cannot see it or hear it we have to repeat this truth in the script, and vary the tonality of the actor’s voice from a very loud to a whisper.
Merejkowsky’s films are taking a form of the formal strategies as for him the film as art means above all other things- an attempt which moves to the visual poliphony (and in this respect the musical training and composer’s education come in handy for his art). His film often combines (here we should underline the word « often ») militant documentary, epic theater, poliphony of the voices, organic and non-organic approach to the script, the strategies of communication, the generic and formal shifts of the spiritual image , the direct pastiche of the postmodern French cinema as well as the heritage of great Soviet school of Russian Formalism.
“Does a literary work simply chronicle and accompany revolutions or can it change the world? Was each formal revolution which … ushered in a new phase of literary history just the reflection of a change in the way writers saw the world or did it create new ways of representing this change? What makes a piece of writing revolutionary? Is it its immediate impact?” Some of these pertinent questions I have tried to ask working on my first doctoral disertation”Mayakovsky and his influence on the contemporary American poetry” far back in 1982.
Marjorie Perloff warmly supported my research and gave me ‘green light’ to continue my investigation but the ultra-conservative team of professors at the American University in Washington,DC., did not approve of it as my theme was a bit too radical in those times. I’d like to clear some of these incentives at this conference as many pertinent things have changed in poetry for the last 35 years, for the better we hope. Some of these changes touch the very core of poetry writing in itself, a breath unit leading to an open, so called free verse. One of them is the question that Perloff discusses in regards to the American poets who underwent “the Revolution of the Word”, as Jerome Rothenberg would have it . More precisely what happens when the “natural speech” model inherited from the Modernists,comes up against the “natural speech” of the “talk show,” or how visual poetics and verse forms are responding to the languages of billboards and sound bytes. These questions had been already raised by the Russian avantgarde writers of the Revolution in 1917.
What makes a piece of writing revolutionary, indeed? Is it because it can be revolutionary in form, but it can also carry a political message, as is the case with Vladimir Mayakovsky? A renowned scholar of Russian literature and its Revolutionary avantgardes,Caryl Emerson, tries to untangle some of the Russian Revolution’s brightest literary hours by presenting and discussing an anthology of the early 20th century writing published in the TLS as of February 2017, and I would be more than honoured to extend and elaborate on some of his premises .
Another burning issue here will necessarily imply the rich field of
translation, being the torch bearer of the cultural and technical revolutions which shape our fields of study. However, if there is time and space for further discussion, I would love to tackle the issue as well of
a “translator as a rebel, an enemy of patriotism (Derrida)”. At the time when the area of “translation studies” has revolutionized the university everywhere, it is clear that “the links between translation and questions of identity, political thought and the diffusion of knowledge,” have not yet been sufficiently discussed but we should strive to do so.
In 1940, a great Russian theoretician and semiotician, Victor Chklovski had written about the great revolutionary poet Mayakovski: ” Mayakovski reorganized words in Russian in the way that their semantic value was changed. He penetrated the solid ice-sheet made of words and reconstructed them to form new poetry based on the experience of Khlebnikov, on the Russian folk songs and on the vast field of the street conversational language.” ( Chklovski, On Mayakovski ” Moscow, 1940)
Perhaps we should explain something here: Mayakovski , a young poet who was 33 in 1926 and who had already gained the stature of a great poet with his people , quite early in the 20th century, tried to write something quite pertinent in regards to the genesis of his unusual verse . He wrote a text ” How to write Poetry ” in which he showed the newly born necessity on the side of the form to convert and guide the content, and above all, the necessity of the verse to attain a more casual character in its essence. In 1926 the great Russian revolutionary acts were already behind and Mayakovsky was still trying, despite many personal disappointments, to believe in the powerful Revolution which shook his country nine years ago. In his text, Mayakovsky speaks of those revolutionary times and ideas which he wanted to extend naturally as he was one of the most illustrious participants of the October’s revolution. He has always believed that the poet had one special role in society – the one which implied not only the showing the obligatory respect to the formal inventions in poetry, but that such role also implied the creation of the committed and avant-garde content , the one which in turn would further help the readers understand their tasks in their new revolutionary society.The real biography of Vladimir Mayakovsky was recorded several times by various biographers and in very different manners: all of them agree (Bengt Jangfeldt, Edward J.Brown, Ann and Samuel Charters, Patricia J.Thompson) that he was a teenager who happened to live through the Russian Revolution poor and disoriented- his father died and his mother was raising him by herself in the Moscow in the revolutionary times. As a member of a Social Democrat party he went to jail as a youngster and served a 5 year long sentence, only to return a party membership card after he gained his freedom. The books which perhaps preserve the best the elements of his theoretical work remain Poetic Culture of Mayakovsky, written in French by Nicolas Khardijev (L’age d’Homme), Mayakovski- I travelled Around the World by Claude Frioux and Mayakovski and His Circle by Victor Chklovski himself. Equally precious and moving testimonies of Mayakovski’s life were given by his fellow-poets such as Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaieva and Guennadi Aigui as well as the poet’s long lost companion Lili Brik. Mayakovsky’s life was larger than a life of any other poet as it had so many violent notes in it and it ended quite violently, some claim that the poet committed suicide,and some better informed of his contemporaries maintain that he was killed by Beria and his KGB agents. At any rate much of this violence leaks into his verse where we feel poet’s struggle to exit his inner jail that the revolutionary life had condemned him to, but most of his verse remains sunny and optimistic, despite everything and everybody and this quality of his verse is the best described by his biographer Philippe Blanchon. He wrote a preface to Mayakovsky’s theoretical book HOW TO WRITE POETRY ( in the revolutionary times, we should add) where Blanchon pertinently remarks “In his castle where the poet is suffocating, he is putting his last force to change the air and to open the windows out. He is attacked by everyone and everything, from the inside and the outside and his solitude must had been the total one.” (p.3) Three years after having completed his tractat the poet dies. But the chapbook remains in which he explains his working method; he has accomplished a new cycle of poems after his long voyages in the U.S. and in Europe, and has explained most of his poetics in a part entitled Essenine . In the text which he considered as his working laboratory he explains his metric and phonic demands which suit his semantic explorations and his search for the inner rhythm of words which slowly untangles his creative process accomplished- in the age of the mechanical reproduction. A similar search for rhythm and meaning we also find in the verse of Mayakovski’s distant spiritual cousin and poetic descendent, the American poet Frank O’Hara who lived and worked a bit later in the 20th century in the U.S., but the observations and the possible parallels of the work of these two poets we are ready to share a little bit further down in this presentation.
In the beginning of his tractatus on poetry Mayakovski says that his intention was not to ‘destroy’ old poetry but to discredit its intrinsic value. He says that we should not quarrel with it- but rather study it carefully. Our criticism and ‘hatred’ ( he uses these passionate words) should first of all go towards the “sentimental” in poetry which is “waiting for the poetic spirit to descend onto us straight from haven like a dove, a peacock or an ostrich”. Mayakovsky here is doing something that we, children of the postmodern, can quickly understand, but for those times it was a far and rare outcry of a brand new method in poetry; however, Frank O’Hara who had a poetic sensibility close to Mayakovsky’s got his messages right away, straight from the Russian source, and started applying them quite readily in his own verse. And what were Mayakovsky’s postmodern messages? Let us see them one by one
- Introducing very trivial low register theme or expressions into a highbrow subject ((doves, peacocks, ostrichs)
- Introducing an “extra” outdoor theme or story and sliding it into the relevant material (he compares old poets and their love of the pathetic to Tatiana’s love (a bit démodé, for Onegin)
- By assuming a funny or humorous tone throughout the text, he is getting to the heart core of the scholarly or a difficult subject such as writing the creative verse
However, he says :“I am not giving you any rule which could make a poet out of an ordinary man, a man able to write poetry. Such rules do not exist. Every poet is a person who creates his own rules for writing poetry on his own and only for himself.” (p.11) And then he adds”I will emphasize: just to create the rules is by no means the goal of poetry- if that was the case, a poet would be no less than an office clerk who invents unnecessary rules for all sorts of things and non-existing situations.” And then he adds quite humorously in a jocose manner: “we all agree that it is futile to invent rules for counting the stars while we are riding the bicycle, right”. Further along the line, as he explains the revolution of “THE WORD”, that is the development of the revolutionary language in poetry he underlines the fact that the necessities of life always enter the body of poetry and observes that “the revolution has rushed and forced a foul and simple language of the streets , the language which belonged to millions of men – into poetry; the argotic expressions from the suburbs entered the city center and the week language of the intellectuals- effeminate words such as ‘ideal’, ‘social justice’ ‘divine origin’ and “the transcendental images of Christ and Antichrist”, as well as that refined murmuring happening in the restaurants- had been suffocated by a necessity.” (p 14) How do we introduce a totally new linguistic material into poetry?
Mayakovski had been asking himself that question in that long distant 1926, almost a hundred years ago, and we are more than ready to ask the same question today. Well, he did not know, Frank O’Hara did not know in the 1960s, and we do not know today, but in one thing all poets throughout the last century echo Mayakovski’s doubts in writing – one of these is whether we should apply old poetic rules and old prosody to new subjects and new poetic themes, and the answer of all of them is in the negative. In his struggle for the new poetic language The Russian poet exclaims “It does not suffice to give examples of the new verse or rules of a verbal action to the revolutionary masses; it is necessary that action happens unanonimously and that it is enormously great in its support on the side of the whole social class.” (p.15) And he says also: “Novelty is indispensable in the creation of new poetics. The words as material have to be put in new combinations, if poet encounters them he has to rework their relationships. And if we use in new poems old and forgotten phrases, these should be used proportionately with the new material. However, the newness in a poem does not have to contain always new unedited truths. Iambics, free verse, alliteration and the assonance we do not invent every day. We can work in order to expand them, deepen them and elaborate them further. “ Also, he says that the description and representation of reality are not independent issues in poetry. This type of work is worthwhile but it should be considered as secretarial in a large assembly. All poetry, he says, starts with higher purpose and a hidden tendency.
He does not believe in the purposeless verse and thus he says:
“ I think that a poem “I’m travelling lonely on the road” is just an invitation to the girls to go on a trip with that poet. Ah! If a poem of that force had been only written to shake people and make them gather in cooperatives!” However, he was the one w<ho was able to write such a poem and shake people;Mayakovsky believed in future of the cooperatives. After all, he was a founder of the literary movement Futurism (1913) for which David Bourliouk, a member of the Futurist circle said that it was not a new movement in art but a new attitude towards everything in life. However,the movement gathered several poets of the same sensibility who later became famous such as Alexandre Blok, Velimir Khlebnikov, Vassili Kamenski et Alexeï Kroutchenykh. The first Futurist manifest A Slap in the Public Taste, was published as early as 1912. But contrary to the belief that Mayakovsky’s poetry or of any poet from that group was heavy, modeled upon the need of the new society to be industrious and serious, one could easily remark that the poems of the Futurists were funny, full of revolutionary optimism and lighthearted. They were liberated from the chains of the traditional form and catered in their spirit the brand new society, people of the Russian revolution who needed hope and encouragement.
Let us take a brief look at the principal “revolutionary”poem of Mayakovsky’s, entitled “Ode to the Revolution”( beautifully translated by Rosy Patience Carrick) where he says :To thee/hissed at/mocked by the whole batteries/to thee/I rapturously render up../..you send sailors/onto the sinking ship,/where/a forgotten/kitten miaows./And afterward!/You roar through the drunken crowd/.
Why would he address the revolution in his first line with the most romantic, reverent “thee”, unless he loved and respected it from the start, and while other poets disliked it, “hissed at it” and went to exile, like Marina Tsvetayeva and Zinaida Xippius, the poet Mayakovsky remained faithful to it. Nonetheless, he will admit further down in his poem that ‘his’ revolution sent sailors onto the sinking ship, therefore it made willful and deliberate victims. However, his line that follows the former one explains this long metaphor by stating that there was a “ kitten forgotten on the board”and the “sailors”, otherwise called “the revolutionaries”, were probably sent in there with a noble task- to save a living being from the sinking boat, which was truly Russia itself in the feudal times, just before the grand October revolution. Very few poets, descendants of the 20th century had enough subtlety and tenderness to embrace the revolution and the revolutionary zeal in the same manner. In a way, Mayakovsky knew that the revolution was killing him, but for the higher, humanitarian goals he had to embrace it; he did not mind Lenin and then later Stalin and Beria, he just “had to shine, no matter what”; his sunny stance is shared with Frank O’Hara, his American twin, unvoluntary disciple and eternal aesthetic-revolutionary rebel.
Born in Baltimore 1926, just 4 years before his Russian counterpart died in Moscow, O’Hara is considered nowadays a major participant of the so called New York School of poetry (together with John Ashbery, James Schyler and Kenneth Koch). He worked as a curator in the MOMA (New York Museum of Modern art) and also died young (in 1966) in a tragic accident, but he left behind a substantial body of poetry which was not perhaps so large in scope but truly substantial in its revolutionary and innovative approach to verse that it formed the whole generation of successors-followers who have stared wide-open into the work of their beloved teacher of wild and funny postmodern verse many decades after O’Hara’s death.
In O’Hara’s short but ever- pertinent explanation of his verse, entitled “Personism-a Manifesto”, he jokingly teaches his Anglophone readers how to write, or even better, how not to write certain poetry. He starts with his Mayakovshian reproach to the literary criticism: “Everything is in the poems.. so I don’t have to make elaborately sounded structures.. I don’t even like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve”
As the result though.his revolutionary attitude in writing, and his verse got on many critics’ nerve though- America was not used to this sort of poetry, it did not have poets who would say like O’Hara “ I am not saying that I don’t have practically the most lofty ideas of anyone writing today…but they are just ideas. The only good thing about it is that whenI get lofty enough I’ve stopped thinking and that’s when refreshment arrives”. However, what the ‘resfreshment “ meant for O’Hara, we are just allowed to have a glimpse, an idea about it. Further along the line he would say “Only Whitman and Crane and Williams, of the American poets are better than the movies.” And why he loved them and not the others we can only guess- he probably loved that long, river-like Whitmanesque line, meandering like a river, and that indented rough verse by Hart Crane, and WC Williams- perhaps for his take on the ideas “no ideas but in things”, yes, we can guess but we can never be so sure as O’Hara quoted everything and everybody, then also nobody specific in his humorous sardonic pastiches. In his Personism “ a movement for only two people which is going to become popular” Frank O’Hara has already announced “the death of literature as we know it”. Of course, he was referring to the critical avant-garde movement in visual arts which was announcing ‘death of art’. O’Hara was making a take-off and he was laughing at his readers already, while they were beginning to figure out what he meant by saying that “poetry was quicker and surer than the prose”. Some of us are still trying to figure out whether he was right or not, but it is sure that the poet’s delivery was reaching the heart quicker that some long descriptions, O’Hara was a quick and sporadic writer who had no patience with the events, just like his predecessor, Mayakovsky, but was reminding us already in the early 1960s that the heart is there, hidden but open, and an artist has to reach out loudly and then simply grab it. He was not there to share with Mayakovsky his revolutionary zeal, but the echos of futurism are already with him , as early as in his “Memorial Day 1950”s poem in which he picks up something which could be named “the Russian proletarian call” to verse:
“O Boris Pasternak, it may be silly/to call to you, so tall in the Urals, but your voice/ cleans our world/clearer to us than the hospital:/you sound above the factory’s ambiguous gargle./ Poetry is as useful as a machine!”
And yet, one of the best FO’H poems is dedicated not to Pasternak but to Mayakovsky, more precisely “in the memory of Vladimir Mayakovsky” in a subtitle, but nowhere in it can we say with certainty why the Russian poet was the object of his dedication. True, the poem is long, divided in 10 sections, and is rebellious in its nature- it is almost not a poem in genre, but a long hybrid text which only makes us think that Mayakovsky was more of a real and enormous inspiration in poetic musings for O’Hara, rather than a real down- the- line influence and predecessor who determines the younger poet’s style. How could we ever deduct the O’Hara’s lines from Mayakovsky’s? “ Quips and players, seeming to vend astringency off-hours,/ celebrate diced excesses and sardonics, mixing pleasures/as if proximity were staring at the margin of a plea..”
A mere joke or an attempt to appear more Surreal that the acclaimed Surrealists of that time? We cannot understand, as the poem goes, neither the quips nor the player who was witty enough to flash them, and by all means we could not feel Mayakovsky’s style or intention in any of O’Hara’s parts, and yet! The Irish American gave us a superb lesson in something which was called ‘ a dedication’ of a poem. From that epoch on, it became trully possible for any poet to dedicate a poem in his true intimacy to another poet while writing something entirely different from his peer’s style and content. The revolutionary word was there and it came straight from Victor Chklovsky a Russian theorist and Formalist who collaborated with Mayakovsky on his magazine LEF (Leftist Art’s Front) in 1923 and who developed his famous “method of defamiliarization” in art, a method which justly claimed that the best way to speak about a fact was to ignore it completely and to speak all the time about something else (see Chklovski’s “Zoo or the Letters which do not speak of Love”.) If we are to speak of the new and revolutionary methods in literature, we have to go back to Chklovski who preserved his art from Stalin’s purges and died rather late in the 2Oth century (1984). Chklovski was also rather in favor of the cinematographic style, that is the technique of film-editing in literature, a method that both Mayakovsky and Frank O’Hara felt very close to.
Of course, in 1950s and 1960’s in the U.S. one could relate this particular method more easily to the New York Pop art where we find O’Hara’s buddies Larry Rivers and Bill Berkson . We are not trying to direct the readers here to a possible influence of Mayakovsky on O’Hara in those terms, we are just trying to draw an incredible similarity, a serendipity on the side of O’Hara who must had liked Mayakovsky’s brief, oratory style suited to be posted in an imaginary Popish cartoon’s balloon. However, the balloon was Pop and extremely fresh in writing,and both poets rejoiced in it. Or, what’s happening here ,according to Alain Badiou is the mere dissemination of a poem , as “its operation tries to overcome a certitude of an objective and pushes its inner action towards a void, towards a pure scintillation which places its object in front of its absence or annihilation.” The philosopher says that such dissemination wishes to dissolve the object by its infinite metaphoric distribution, so as soon as the object escapes to a different meaning in a poem, at the same time it “disobjectivizes” itself and becomes something else. The object loses its “objectivity” not because it got lost but because it got multiplied by the means of becoming excessive, it became excessive in regards to other objects”. (p. 21) The active dialogue with the Russian poet becomes more visible in O’Hara’s poem entitled simply Mayakovsky. Here, O’Hara suffers a real “anxiety of influence” and writes a real response poem to Mayakovsky’s Cloud in Trousers which is not Mayakovsky’s best and the most renowned poem but often it appears so. However, with O’Hara it becomes a vaudeville, a pastiche, a post-modern take off, a sort of a Monthy Python’s take on Tarkovski as O’Hara wants to escape his own flood of emotions, a pathetic bathos and he says: “I/ My heart’s aflutter!/I am standing in a bathtub/crying.Mother, mother who am I?/ If he will just come back once/and kiss me on the face/his coarse hair brush/my temple, it’s throbbing!”
We see here that Mayakovsky’s verse is turned upside down in a comic manner, we have a comic relief to a sad situation of abandonment but is it really comic? O’Hara’s heart is also hurt but he would not allow the reader to cry with him, it’s unbecoming for a poet to be pathetic; however, his sincere questioning of identity comes through in the line “mother, mother, who am I?” as it becomes a tragic quest devoid of laughter. He keeps his mocking tone throughout the “epic”, as one of the primary tasks of every postmodern school of writing relied on the ancient quotes or sincere sentiment in the predecessor’s verse now being turned completely upside down- what was a high tone in writing now becomes a lower subject and the small, insignificant events- for the sake of the comical effect are being turned into high odes and quasi worthwhile themes. (see Marjorie Perloff, Postmodern Genres, UN of Oklahoma Press 1988)
“2 I love you. I love you,/ but I am turning to my verses/and my heart is closing/ like a fist./Words!be/sick as I am sick, swoon,/roll back your eyes, a pool,/and I’ll stare down/at my wounded beauty/which at best is only a talent/ for poetry.”
A “wounded beauty”, or a talent for poetry at its best is quite visible in Mayakovsky’s long poem
“An extraordinary Adventure which befell..in the Summer at a Dacha” written in 1920s: “Like one hundred forty suns blazed/as summer rolled into July;/the weather was hot,/heat shimmered and swam-/ this took place at a dacha./ The knoll of Pushkino hunched up/ against Akulova hill/was a village/ its rind of rooftops grimaced”. In this one the Russian converses with the sun- his equal and personalized diety: “I shouted at the sun:/Hold it!/ listen up, goldilobe:/ don’t just drop idly/from the sky-/drop by/ my place for tea!” Once invited,the sun started talking to the poet who did not miss his opportunity to complain “ I talked of this/ and I talked of that/ said Rosta was really wearing me down,/ to which the sun retorted:/ Cmon, /don’t grieve-/just look at the things simply!/You think/it’s easy/ for me to shine?/..But here’s the thing:/you chose to go,/so you go-and shine wide open!..Let’s go, poet/ and blaze/and laud/in the gray rubbish of the world./I will pour out the sun that’s mine/and you, your own,/in verse./…To shine all-wheres/until the end of days,/to shine-/and that’s all there is to it!/My slogan/and the sun’s!”
Before we turn to Frank O’Hara’s immense response to Mayakovsky’s poem, it is just correct to remark that the poet who had written such verse, an ode to the sun, was more than unlikely to commit suicide. He was emotional, as poets usually are, and despite Shelley’s slogan that “the poets are the least poetical of all beings”, and despite the fact that he was emotionally ruined by his love affair with Lily Brick- hard to imagine such a poet committing suicide.
O’Hara, a sunny poet as well indeed, writes “A TRUE ACCOUNT OF TALKING TO THE SUN AT FIRE ISLAND”, the poem he wrote after having read Mayakovsky in translation of Kornei Chukovsky, an early translator of Whitman and a friend of Mayakovsky’s.However his translations were almost as excellent as the original- here is what McGavran, his larter translator says on translating the Russian poet “Translating Mayakovsky is a daunting task. The traditional impossibility of verse translation- maintaining poetic form and semantic content- is compounded in his case by Mayakovsky’s penchant for word creation and highly unusual, at times ambiguous grammar. Furthermore, form- which comprises rhythm, rhyme, all sorts of sound-play and other effects that rely on the phonetic or graphic make-up of words in Russian- is almost always a bearer of meaning, and it is often central to Mayakovsky’s work that to throw it out entirely would render a poem meaningless. There is also the challenge of conveying Mayakovsky’s frequent changes in tone and stylistic registar: from jeering to pleading, from vulgarity to eloquence (or mock eloquence), from bathos to pathos and back again.”
O’Hara starts his “True Account of Talking to the Sun” in Mayakovskian unique self-assured manner of a salesman who tries to barter a couple of verses for a piece of your heart: “The Sun woke me this morning loud/and clear, saying “Hey, I’ve been/trying to wake you up for fifteen minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are/ only the second poet I’ve ever chosen/ to speak to personally/so why/aren’t you more attentive?” Here the poet takes up on Mayakovsky’s revolutionary street language stance and continues in the same style throughout the poem “Frankly, I wanted to tell you/I like your poetry. I see a lot/on my rounds and you’re okay. You may/not be the greatest thing on Earth, but/ you are different./.. Just keep on/like I do and pay no attention. You’ll/find that people always will complain/ about the atmosphere,either too hot/or too cold/..And don’t worry about your lineage/poetic or natural. The Sun shines/on the jungle, you know,/ on the tundra/ the sea, the ghetto./..I was waiting for you to get to work.”
In the first part of the O’Hara’s take off , the American poet speaks the same words of the professional encouragement as we had already heard them in Mayakovsky’s poem, but in the second part he pushes the Mayakovskyan metaphor very far. Here we have O’Hara speaks Mayakovsky’s lines that his predecessor had never spoken, enlarging the spirit and the situation the way Mayakovsky would have done but he never did, so O’Hara anticipates the verses which Mayakovsky failed to fill in his poem and he says:”And always embrace things, people earth/sky stars, as I do, freely and with/ the appropriate sense of space./Sun don’t go! I was awake /at last.”No, go I must, they’re calling me”/Who are they?/ Rising he said, “Some day you’ll know.They are calling to you/too.”
One can rightly ask the question who the Sun is in O’Hara’s poem and the answer falls naturally- it is his peer, the Russian poet Mayakovsky, giving him the supreme advice in life and in his poetics which is larger than life. To me, these two poems are some of the best poetry ever written in the history of literature as both of them in their similar but also very different ways teach the artists how to fight oppression in the world and in themselves, the opressive melancholy, or the dark Sun that the poets are often prone to. Both of these poems sing in the voice of the oppressed teaching the artists how to love the weak and how to embrace misfortune by taking a stance larger than life, as both of them did. What could have Frank O’Hara picked from Mayakovsky,being a difficult poet to translate ? Mayakovsky was famous for his revolutionary, innovative form in poetry, but his content, inspired by the great October revolution was no less revolutionary than his fight for the new form in poetic language. And O’Hara followed, certainly in a different way, but what he recognized was the kindred spirit in Mayakovsky , the one similar to his own. Both of them believed in being faithful to the spirit of the times, that is of those unique, respective eras that they inhabited and which inhabited them , each poet in his own times.
In conclusion,we should observe here that it is not an easy task to talk about the influence in poetry or about the legitimate heritage that one poet inherits from another who was his predecessor . Our task to understand one’s poetics is doubled here, as Badiou justly remarks that the nature of poetry, anyone’s poetry in our epoch tends to evade us. And he says that poem is an uncompromising , intrasigent exercise. It cannot be mediated and it avoids mediatisation. It is an act of rebellion in itself as it does not demand to be communicated. It is not a general action and it does not try to please; it gives itself to our ears as a thing in language which we always encounter as an event. It is a pure event which hides itself in its own tissue, waiting for us to take it out from its envelope.. and also it dwells in the essential silence, it is a “musician of silence” as Mallarme named it, or Rimbaud who called it “a thought sang in a song together with the singer”.
How can this song be transmitted from one poet to another and from that one to the masses, we do not know; what I am only trying to say is that Vladimir Mayakovsky and Frank O’Hara tried to do it, in their respective eras and in their different ways. And as Badiou pertinently remarks again, poetry happens to be the only artistic form to keep the thought alive in this “age of poets” when philosophy failed to keep the world together and only the poets are able to show their writing as an exercise of vigilance. Pessoa had seen their role as the great metaphysicians of our times who keep the flame burning, and Heidegger called them “the guardians of being”. Their role is to shine and to revolutionize the word, thus to revolutionize the world that fell into some temporary or permanent darkness.
(p.8 the Selected Poems of F O’H, ed. By Donald Allen)
Alain Badiou, “Que pense le poème?”, NOUS,2016
Carrick, Rosy Patience,”Vladimir Mayakovsky: the Language of Revolution”, unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Sussex (British Library, London , 2017)
James H.McGavran, Mayakovsky’s selected poems, vol III, 2013 Northwestern University Press
Mayakovsky, Vladimir : L’amour, la poesie, laRévolution, trad. Henri Deluy, Le Temps des Cerises, Montreuil 2011
Perloff, Marjorie, Postmodern Genres, UN of Oklahoma Press ,1988
For my dead lost and forlorn friends
That special hidden nook in my heart
From that unseen and never heard of space– you never depart
I placed you on the top of Pantheon
Where you’ve always dwelled from the beginingless time
Ahoy! Justly or unjustly so
You’ve been my eyes to see the world
My ears who had heard the nicest music of them all
You’ve been my mouth and my voice who spoke poetry all the time…
And to say that I ve always loved you so
Is just another way to say: without you, I’m completely fucked…
And the life goes on, and these words.
I’ve been kinda repeating them every couple of years or so
And Ira and Beba and Maya and Elio and Gera and Philippe and Radovan and Zoran and Luka
And now you- please. sail gently into that light,
you’ll join the best
and the rest will like you
Nina Živančević, Aleksandra Mančić i Pavle Ćosić; Srpsko Književno Društvo 22.12.2017.
Memory of Recent AVANGARDA, Does it Spell ‘Resistance’?
It is interesting to notice that wherever I lived, I have always felt as a refugee: an artist in an inner, as much as an outer exile. True, no one has ever forced me to leave my homeland, former Yugoslavia as I had left it out of my own free will that distant 1980. I was neither Nabokov, nor Joseph Brodsky or Soljenitsyn. However, the merciless hand of High Capitalism has also ruled my country, our schools and our artists and intellectuals and all of us have felt its rude consequences even under the reign of Tito. As I’m walking among the sleepy bodies of the Syrian refugees in a Belgrade’s bus station park, trying to address all my human and performative efforts towards the Other, my whole life appears suddenly on a stretcher in front of my eyes, and here comes a question: have I ever left this place where my grandmother founded the Serbian branch of the Red Cross, and where my grandfather was hiding the Bakuninists under his roof, on their way from Russia to the United States? Here, questions such as “Is art still possible?” and “what is its current, ‘disappearing’ form?”, have never occurred to me, nor the questions about the true meaning of resistance or its absence or presence in everyone’s life. The answers to these questions would impose themselves on me quite naturally. Let me dig into some fitting examples of the artistic practices that will help to illustrate my quandary.
In a specific procedure of combining the modeled and “already-made” elements pertinent to his work, a sculptor, Zoran Joksimović combines a porcelain leg, a bath-tub and machine oil to form a sculpture (I Remember) which uses abjectness as a self-reflective act of a traumatic memory exploring its effects in a material and metaphorical image of a fragmented body. (Sretenović, The Journey Through the Pictures and the Phantasms of the 1990s) Was it Hal Foster who, discussing the “abject art” was also discussing the “vulnerability of our borders, the fragility of the spatial distinction between our exterior and the interior, bringing the concept of self into a crisis through the cut of the dismantled body whose chopped off member now independently follows its own ‘game of chess,’ towards its own path of disappearance instead of the subject. However, may we conclude that such a traumatic cut is productive because it evacuates and raises the subject, showing us that the totality is an illusion which does not hold in practice or that confirms its existence only in multiplicity, in a dynamic interaction of the whole and its segments?
I hesitate to say that the whole He-story of the so-called recent Eastern European art could be interpreted as an extended metaphor for the question which we have raised above here, however, some of its most illustrious representatives, the most resilient and the bravest ones, certainly attest to its existence, to the acts of humanity and inhumanity to which this art has responded at the very end of the 20th and the very beginning of this 21st century.
Let me take a look at a certain She-story: Before the Matthew Akers film with Marina Abramović entitled The Artist is Present (2013) there was Balkan Baroque (1999), a film by Pierre Coulibeuf where Marina, as the artist, was not present. As if her body remained in her filmed performance Biography, but her mind was certainly elsewhere, recovering from the political events in her homeland which happened during the 1990s. In the latter film, at a certain point she is laying in her white bed, her head covered with the snow of memories as she is asking a panicky question “And Neša? What is happening with Neša?”2 This profound worry for a fellow-artist, friend, cousin and the big Other, who stayed in the ‘Inner Exile’ reflected the traumatic cut which remained an unhealed wound in the body of the artists who left Tito’s Yugoslavia during the 1980s. Soon after, many of us were forced into the political exile during the Milošević’s “Serbian reign of terror” which stretched during the 1990s when the only sane artistic activities could be brought under the common denominators of political, subversive art and resistance. Many of the artists, writers, performers, film-makers, musicians and composers had transferred their bodies to the new, welcoming countries but their “head,” that is their spirit remained in their homeland, among the bombshells and under the acid rains formed by the broken uranium bombs.
I left Serbia in the beginning of the 1980s but I left my family, thus a part of my body, in Serbia where my nephew, Dragan Živančević, became a co-founder (with Nikola Džafo) of the most virulent resistance art group, LEDArt who performed numerous radical social actions, events and performances against Milošević’s regime in the1990s.3
In my “Outer Exile,” I was accompanied by a good crowd of fellow-artists who shared my daily dread in the very heart of neoliberalism. As a performance and poetry editor to the legendary East Village Eye (1982-1985) I encountered numerous examples of artistic courage and resistance to the last stages of High Capitalism in its revolting agony. The gallery space had become too small to house the expression of these deeply cutting historic times which made artists turn to the theatrical, thus showing their yearning for the brutal and the real that had paved the ‘street’ which accordingly became a new installational space for the artistic happening, event and action.
Dragan Ilić, Vesna Golubović and their Fashion Moda graffiti people were turning the city into their technological playground; Vesna Victoria, Zoran Grebenarović, myself, we were giving our post-punk performances “out on a limb,” and the flower of the Yugoslav music scene—Drak, the frontman of the Glass Bead Game and Ljuba Djukić of the Electric Orgasm, together with Firči and Beške (of Dirty Green) were giving improvised concerts at the CBGB’s and in various Brooklyn ‘dives’. The private and spiritual (as in Vlasta Volcano’s appropriations of Byzantine icons) had landed on leather jackets and became public property. Much later, in 1991, Volcano abandoned his Suprematist’s yearnings and produced “Shadows” a huge installational sculpture or the most moving testimony to the absence of the Other, exemplified in burnt truck tyres hanging from a ceiling and which evoked dead bodies in absentia, thus making all of us artists metaphorically speaking disappear in a common grave ( Živančević 1994).4
We were all mapped out as the “Aliens,” alien citizens in New York, by a LED ART photographer, Vladimir Radojčić who took photos of 72 artists in exile, all of us with naked torsos whereas the corresponding bodies, naked from the waist to toe, were supplied in Serbia, represented by those artists who remained in the country. We all formed one body, buried in some inner or outer jail. All these actions were executed much earlier before Marina Abramović came to town, and earlier than she showed her installational work and a performance «Cleaning of the House», presented at the Venice Biennale in 1997, in Germano Celan’s pavilion as she had no right to clean the ox’s bones evoking corpses as a former Serbian artist living in Netherlands, and later in New York, therefore a displaced person sharing an artistic non lieu with the rest of us (Živančević, 2010).5
The artist with whom I shared most of the local artistic and social awareness in those heavy times is Victoria Vesna whose art has always inspired a certain melancholy of thinking as its special quality brings us back to ourselves, to the innermost house in us, the dwelling of poetry. She grew up in New York City where she attended different art schools and where she, somewhat like Abramović, has become what we call a multidisciplinary artist. One of her performances that I saw last in New York in the late 1980s was her commentary on Freud, entitled “Sometimes the cigar—is simply just a cigar.” It was an anti-racist, pro-Cuban performance. Victoria has always known how to enter the core of a certain problem by placing it into a certain ethical-political frame. The musician who left the biggest impact on her was a punk artist Alan Vega from “the Suicide” who was pushing to the extreme his idiosyncratic, political and anarchist messages on his synthesizer. Back in New York in 1985, Victoria started doing very radical performances; angry at the general devaluation and commercialisation of art and artists in the East Village, she did a performance which condemned such politics. As the gallery “12 x 12 inches” was charging the artists who would exhibit their work there with 20 dollars per hour, she entitled her performance “12×12 inches = 20 dollars.”
For Victoria Vesna the awareness of space has always been a crucial element in her art as she sees it as a natural outcome of her work. She has always worked simultaneously on paintings and sculpture, but she has continuously been concerned about the showing space that was not just decorum but the matrix of a given project. In her own, natural way she has arrived at “the ambient performance” which she considers a certain category that she developed during the late 1980s. This specific theatrical and visual performance genre has helped her work go beyond the traditional scholarly and academic concepts which tend to burden art in general. Since the 1990s on, Victoria has been exploring a new artistic genre, an interdisciplinary section that borders on science and science fiction that is called “Nanology.” This artwork implies the creation of the multidimensional world, both imaginary and imaginative in the domain of nano technology. In the world of “nano” poetics, the art, science and technology meet in a virtual space and offer us a relational experiment that allows the public to participate and create their own reality out of the exhibited elements. And, although such an experiment is to be encountered in a physical space, the interaction between a spectator and the object changes the place in an imaginative way that invites everyone to create his own ‘Imaginary Museum.’ In her project “Bodies@Incorporated,” Vesna evokes the ethical role of a spectator/participant who ceases to be a simple viewer of an artistic and existentialist process but rather an active agent of change. Her works such as “Blue Morph” and “Water Bowls” represent a sort of existential outcry against the damage and destruction that our planet undergoes as Vesna tries to raise the desperate question, “where do we come from?” followed by the other inevitable one “where do we go from here?” The spectators are invited to watch in silence the bowls being filled with clear water, then with dirty water, then polluted with oil and petrol, then with plastic. Here a visitor is politically invited to join a virtual and futile game of the geographical and national identification – as he is asked to identify himself as an admirer of the Nile, of the Ganges or a fan of the Atlantic Ocean. This raises yet other questions that are extremely pertinent, namely as to which water do we belong to, or if we belonged to a certain water, would we find the same water in our body, the water which qualifies the essence of our being?
In one of my first performances which I gave in the early 1980s, I tried to raise a similar question which underlines the score of every humane artistic investigation: If we are to start cleaning our house and our cage from an overall influx of dirt and destruction, shouldn’t we commence doing it firstly with our planet, globally, and then slowly move into our own backyard (Živančević 1982)? Applying different artistic-philosophical and ecocritical methods which had come to us naturally, as all of us, the artists from so-called “Outer Exiles” and those who stayed in the country, in their Inner Jails, shows that we wanted to produce the worthwhile socially engaged answers to the Serbian despotic governmental orders and requests; the Frankfurt School located them outside of Germany, the Russian auteurs sort of found them in their eternal exiles, but what was happening with “Nesha”? What was happening in our homeland devastated by isolation, socio-economic troubles, and tarned by the ethical amnesia by the end of the 20th century when the wars had become virtual and quasi anonymous? In a situation when the entire social world is filled with an entropy process, that is, “collective disruption of vitality through which the energies of the vital stray into sympathy with the catastrophic, apocalyptic and violent-spectacular” (Sloterdijk, The Art of Philosophy: Wisdom as a Practice), the question of the relay of orientation of the artistic subject became crucially important, for there were no longer any social guarantees of existential safety and of the purposefulness of professional activities. The most vital factors of contemporary art meant that what is usually referred to as “the mainstream” abroad functioned in Serbia as an “alternative” to the hegemonic cultural paradigm, even though its protagonists were mostly academically educated artists, with the exception of a certain number of artists who belonged to the rock and techno sub-culture, alternative social movements, the digital demo scene etc. Also, this parallel field of art represented a part of the not-so-large civil counter-public front, but being socially and politically marginalized (which is also to do with the general status of visual arts in Serbian culture), it was not exposed to repressive measures, as was the case with non- governmental organizations and the independent media, but was largely ignored and subjected to media censorship, that is, journalistic self-censorship.
Finally, numerous exponents of this scene such as Raša Todosijević, Milica Tomić, Association Apsolutno, Uroš Djurić, Tanja Ostojić, Biljana Djurdjević, Balint Szombathy, Zoran Naskovski, LED Art, Magnet, Mileta Prodanović, Mrdjan Bajić, Neša Paripović—to name but a few—at the same time achieved a considerable reputation on the international scene, but this was barely registered by the domestic cultural public, so that it did not in any way contribute to a change in their social status. In other words, the relationship between what Pierre Bourdieu calls “the symbolic capital market,” which establishes a system of purely aesthetic, non-utilitarian exchange between the artist and the recipient, and “the economic capital market,” which commodifies symbolic goods (and provides artists with a social status), was not established at all, and even the very symbolic value of this art was denied by aggressive art market brokers who promoted small-town pictorial sentimentalism and the so-called “kitsch-fantasy” (as exemplified in ‘turbo-folk’ local scene) as the dominant code of the contemporary art production.
The place of art as a locus of symbolic differentiation could be exposed to the advance of the real only in those situations when it was exteriorized in the public space as a place of direct political contestation, thereby losing the prerogative of socio-political irrelevance. What I refer to here is the symptomatic example of the arrest of the artist and political activist Nune Popović (Magnet), who defended himself before the police saying that he was an artist, whereby he unconsciously stated the premise of irrelevance (the “innocence” of an artistic act), demonstrating at the same time the evidence of a personal stake when it came to the artistic tactics of occupying the public space. And though the public sphere, owing to the activities of many groups and individuals (actionist/ ‘Situationist’ tactics of political disturbance or real sabotage by the groups like Led Art and Magnet, distribution of printed matters by Škart group, site-specific projects by Association Apsolutno and others) represented an important domain of political statements of artists, most interventions operated on the level of the symbolic producing subversive signs without the excesses of political disturbance that would constitute a provocation of the imaginary of the regime.
What is said here for the artistic praxis and its strategies dominant in the 1990s, the most politically and overtly painful period for Serbia’s recent history, unfortunately applies to the current art activities of today; after the brief reign of Djindjic’s democracy, we find today the same ultra-nationalist and right-oriented government forces at work. As the result of such a situation, the very question whether the recent subversive avant-garde practices have taught anything of the emancipatory value both the social art practitioners and their public, remains still unanswered. The tendency of every society to close its doors to the so-called progress tends not to be a small negligible tendency of the contemporary world fed on austerity and greed for power. I am inclined to continue my own poetry performances as many other artists who feel that they have no place to settle but in their perpetuum mobile, just to go. Many of us have felt already, for decades, that we have been refugees in an art field of our own respective territories—the neoliberal world of high capitalism has been the one where the art sites host only the merchant, or a benevolent but powerful curator who has the last word in the “art game.” In such a situation, the issue of the real, geographical territory became secondary to many of us. However, many marginalized artists, be it the Eastern Europeans, the Americans, or the Palestinians, simply continue to create worlds of their own. In such a situation, I am wondering if we truly need to emphasize the term “resistance.” Does it need a new definition as a comprehensive term or have we been redefining it and coining it as we go along?
1. Here I am using the Serbo-Croatian term for the word ‘Avant Garde’ which also encompasses all the terms of the taxonomy or paradigms for recent and contemporary artists’ activities in that part of so-called Eastern Europe.
2. Neša Paripović, one of the most radical conceptual artists in Serbia who also started the New Avant Garde movement with Marina Abramović, Zoran Popović, Georgij Urkom, Raša Todosijević and Evgenija Demnievska in the Student Cultural Center in Belgrade during the 1970s, was also Marina’s first husband.
3. See Led Art, Documents of times 1993-2003, Multimedijalni centar LED ART, Novi Sad (Now under the auspices of Art Klinika) and Samizdat B92, Beograd 2004. The
7 Postcolonial Text Vol 12, No 3 & 4 (2017)
publication saw the light of day under Zoran Djindjić’s democrat government but as the political situation has been gradually deteriorating under the present government many citizens deem the experience of the LED Art collective still extremely pertinent as they hope that it continues to develop.
4. In the last issue of the legendary Belgrade magazine devoted to the visual media which I co-edited with Jerko Denegri I tried to map out parts of the then contemporary avant-garde East Village scene including the interviews and testimonies of the East European artists inhabiting the lieu.
5. In this short study I discuss the work of the exiled women artists from former Yugoslavia as the pillars of our new and contemporary avant-garde movements. These are Ljubinka Jovanovic, Kosara Bokšan, Marina Abramović, Evgenija Demnievska, Kirila Faeh, Vesna Victoria, Vesna Bajalska, Ljubica Mrkalj, Olivera Mejcen, Selena Vicković and Jelena Mišković.
The Artist is Present. Directed by Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre, performances by Marina Abramovic, Ulay and Klaus Biesenbach, Show of Force, 2013.
Balkan Baroque. Directed by Pierre Coulibeuf, performances by Marina Abramovic, Michel Butor and Paolo Canevari, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA), 1999.
Sretenović, Dejan. The Journey Through the Pictures and the Phantasms of the 1990s, in: On Normality, Art in Serbia 1989-2001, Muzej Savremene Umetnosti, 2005.
Sloterdijk, Peter, The Art of Philosophy: Wisdom as a Practice, Trans. Karen Margolis. Columbia UP, 2012. Živančević, Nina, East Village (1980-1990), A Decade of Postmodern and Industrial Rococo. Moment, 1994.
Živančević, Nina (with Michaels, Abbe and Lerner, Eric): Our Ego of the Flowers, (homage to Jean Genet), Jo Papp’s Theater, NYC, 1982.
Živančević, Nina, Onze Femmes Artistes, Slaves et Nomades, Non Lieu, 2010.
Artwork by Evgenija Demnievska IN TIME 06; IN TIME 07
From conference K. A. T. Umetnost u obrazovanju: interakcije; Muzej savremene umetnosti Novi Sad, novembar 2017.
I started this conference with an excerpt from Jean Luc Godard’s film La Chinoise which discusses, among other things the problem of chopping off the idea of culture from its formal aspect which is its movement or action, culture in movement, which directly also implies teaching of culture and its presentation to people, to the masses. In Godard’s film two characters have a short dialogue on a train; one of them, the male figure declares that he would like to enable people to see the world the way it really is; he would not only like to enable them to see the world as such, but he would also like to make them able to act and react in such a world, in other words, he would like to enable the masses to contribute to the building, enlarging and improving the better world, which is , in a nutshell, the purpose of any form of school education. Godard’s character is situated in 1968 and he says right away that he would like to get away from his university job, that is, from the old notion of a university job where there is one omniscient teacher and the others are simply the “recipients” of knowledge. During their conversation the student and her philosophy teacher both conclude that there is something essentially wrong with the French university and that “something” is clearly the very system of education itself. (1:09:30, La Chinoise). The girl says that is is disgusted by the university courses as they are always presented in the manner of and following the rules of the ruling class. Thus the entire culture is seen exclusively through the eye-lense of the upper class and as such it is m ade to serve just that particular class. She suggests then to her professor to perform a terrorist action of setting the university on fire; they would bomb ank kill everyone in there, both students and teachers so that they would build a new university, some brave new world. There are few universities in the world which endorsed this Godard’s anarcho-Maoist vision of thefuture education , but quite a few had figured out that a lot of things should be changed both in education and in culture. The year was 1967 going to 1968.
However, quite recently someone hasd asked me to define culture. And to emphasize the difference between culture and savage behavioral practice. Of course, it is always hard to give answers to such complicated and vast questions, but I tried to give an answer, ad hoc. I said that anything which enlarges our
spirit, develops it and improves it, whatever opens up and widens our horizon
IS culture, and whatever makes us stupid, pushes us toward the mental straight
jacket and into the prison or an enclosure- is savage behavior and a barbaric act.
This statement could find its first and foremost application in arts; in the
institutions where people teach arts or where the arts figure as regular courses in
the yearly curriculum.
Everything that enlarges our horizons and introduces us into the very heart of
ARS-ARTIS, into its special realms/pockets, be it music, visual arts or
literature,every emancipatory movement towards ARTIS enlarges and educates
us, and all other movements are not able to do it. In fact, the problem that arises
here is that the art is TECHNE, something which we can teach to others but we
cannot teach it in the same way that we teach other scientific disciplines.
What we can teach to a group of non-initiated beginners or people interested in
an art is just history of that particular artistic discipline. We can interpret a
horizontal history of a given art, a certain geography of that history, as history
was also divided into different geographical regions- thus we can teach
“Spanish literature”, “Italian music” or some other field enhenced by the
vertical, chronological determining of that particular art (eg.we teach the Italian
Renaissance music, or Spanish Baroque literature). However, we do have
certain pretensions at informing the students of certain artistic practices which
were registered as such in certain regions in a given epoch or historic period.
What remains mostly imprinted in their mind is our effort to transmit the
knowledge which we believe corresponded to a particular epoch ; the process of
such transmission increases their artistic sensibility. Or, should I say- that is the
only work here- the teacher’s effort to heighten his students’ sensibility by
makeing them aware of the possibilities of a certain artistic practice, as we can
never be sure that our transmission would leave any other trace or result
At the Conservatory of Music- if you play samples of the Baroque music to
your students hoping that they would grasp the essence of the Baroque periodthis
practise seems the only valid one to pursue there, as, in fact, we can never
teach them how to compose a piece such as Paganini’s Cappricio. You cannot
even teach them how to perform Cappricios in the same way that their author
played them or the author’s contemporaries. The thing that they can grasp after a
long listening practise of the Baroque scores is that the Baroque scores are
always for a half tone or the entire tone lower than the scores composed in the
era of Impressionism. You can also invoke in the listeners an affection for that
music period or the awareness of the abandonment of certain compositional
norms in the Baroque compositions which follows an extensive listening
practise of Baroque music. You can also awaken their interest in Oriental scores
which are performed in the lower tonality system, in B minor, as we hear it with
Debussy or Bela Bartok. However, even if the students learn how to perform
these authors quite well, we cannot always expect their masterful interpretation
to attain the technical perfection and something that goes beyond it, an element
which soars above and beyond the technique and which people perhaps too
easily identify with “high art”.
Now I remember the day when I was preparing a poetry workshop for young
New York’s poets in mid 1980s. I asked a senior collegue, Charles Bernstein, to
give me his advice how to teach ARS POETICA to the students in the
workshop, he simply answered “You cannot really teach anyone the art of
writing; give your students the list of poets and writers who you liked to read
when you were of their age.” That was the best advice which I got from a
collegue in the domain of Art education but the advice was based on insisting
on the historic evidence of the written works of art. By insisting on the
historically oriented lists of the works of art, the beginner was able to discern
his own qualities from his insufficiences in the very act of writing (creative act
of any sort). The beginner was becoming aware not only of his own limitations
but also of his own abilities, of the necessity to imploy patience, this quality
being the foremost prerequisite to any artistic discipline. A German saying says
“Repetition (applied patience) makes the Master”, and aside from this, one can
attest the presence of extreme patience and militant discipline in all different
practises in arts, say like in the visual practises of our very own Marina
I moved all along in this discussion. I contemplated the option of a possibility
vs. impossibility of teaching arts a while ago; but today I know that is, I am
quite sure that one cannot teach art, just like that, ad hoc. Hic Rhodes his salta!
Or, as a renowened late poet Rasha Livada indicated in one of his glorious
poems “the teacher should never transmit the entire instructions to his student ,
that is- if he likes him.” Here, what he really meant was not only that he
believed in the total autonomy and ability of a human being to move on his
own, but also that a great quantity of any “transmittable”ARS-ARTIS material
is always veiled in a great Kabbalah-like initiation and secret thus it appears
more appropriate for the student to make an input and fathom the secret here by
using his proper strength. In a certain way, the teacher is there to announce the
secret and to indicate the possible paths of moving towards it, but his role
certainly does not consist of digesting the essence of the secret, handing it out
on a plate to his disciples. However, we are not talking about the matheme
formulas here, the “secrets” are beyond the formulas which we can learn by
heart. In fact, a greater part of that secret is left to an ocassional operation, a
guess or a serendipity which John Cage nicely named as chance operation.
I would like to emphasize the fact that for some good thirty-five years of
university teaching I have always avoided an opportunity to teach arts in their
creative learning outfit placed in an investigatory action. It is interesting to
notice that at the times when I was living in the so called West, that just in those
times these creative learning practices were coming into day and becoming
quite fashionable. As a former member of the Living Theater, I chose rather
teach the possible histories of Avant-garde theater(s), those European and the
American ones at the radical french university Paris 8, but I also tried some less
“avant-garde” universities where one could expect to hear teacher transmit the
legacy of Deleuze or Foucault rather than someone teach the straigth history of
the literary and theater avant-gardes.
However, for the final exam in the department of Theatrology I would persuade
my students to be extremely creative and include into their presentation of the
Avant-garde’s historical material their very own take on it. I insisted that for
their oral finals they perform an expression of their own, their personal
impression of an Avant-garde(s) by interpreting on their own the most
impressive moments which they treasured thus mastered in my course on the
Historic and the historical avant-gardes. I did not want them to recount the
stories about Antonin Artaud that we hear in special seminars devoted to his art
or the stories on Tadeuzs Kantor as I did not want- borrowing Kantor’s
expression here- to create a “dead class” neiother in theater nor in everyday life
which is the best stage indeed for any given creative action. As I was not
teaching them a specific scenic movement or acting techniques, I was retelling
them my own stage experience summerizing the historical body of theater. I
would physically illustrate my stories by performing certain examples from the
history of the avant-garde theater, thus showing them certain techniques which
would not necessarily be shown in their books. For instance, I would describe
the movements of Meyerhold’s training in Biomechanics then I would show
them how it went in practise which was something that the members of the
Living were transmitting through physical training from one generation to
another. The results accomplished at Paris 8 university were truly ipreszsive as I
often had the impression that the students were able to grasp the most subtle
meaning of my instructions just by watching me perform in their class; it
seemed to me that they were absorbing the very nuance of my Living theater
experience through basic transmissions easily and lightly “as if breathing in the
air”. I take that one has to teach writing in a similar manner- both unobtrusive
and subtle; some of these experiences in writing I had discussed in the preface
to my selected poems entitled “The Art of Catching a Boomerang” published by
Povelja in 2013.
I have realized that I have really meandered and went into a direction somewhat
different from our common theme which is “Art in Education”; my presentation
has slid into a different zone which could bear a title “The Art of Educating an
Individual” or the art of directing a potential , young artist towards his creation
in the most unobtrusive, quiet and almost invisible manner. There is so much to
say about Pedagogy in arts, as this type of pedagogy draws qualities from both
Art and science, thus it is different from other types, but it will suffice to say
that this could be discussed on some other ocassion. When I mentioned earlier
the art of teaching Art, I mentioned the bright examples of artists such as Nicolo
Paganini and Marina Abramovic, however, the idea or my wish was more
oriented towards mentioning some other names , less known to the general
public and these belong to the students sitting at their desks in classrooms and
who are certainly as important to me as the bright exemples who illustrate my
course. As I was preparing my teachings about a certain art and the artists who
perform it, I was constantly aware of the founding elements of any course or
cursus and these include the active participation in class of the students sitting
in front of me and the ability to stir their active awareness, then to keep their
presence awake- to name here only these fundamental factors which are basic
to any course. The teacher who takes on a heavy task of teaching students
classes in art, has to make them truly curious and concerned for the existence of
the given art field. We all witnessed the fact that after an initial interest that a
student has shown for a certain art- and the possession of that interest made
him/her sign in for that course to begin with- there comes a moment, a time
when we, their educators have to make a certain wizzardry of keeping that
interest alive throughout the course. In order to keep a student as an interested,
lively human participant in his class, a teacher himself/herself has to become an
artist of a sort, as his pedagogical approach, bordering on artistry and often on
real acrobacy, has to keep the disciples intellectually and spiritually awake
throughout the three-month long semester.
Whenever I call my students’ names at the beginning of my class at la Sorbonne
– and this experience lasts some good 10 minutes, I notice that this is probably
the most important part of our teaching hour, as it is exactly the time when you
either grab student’s attention so necessary for the rest of the course- or you
don’t. And when I had noticed that a student’s attention radically drops even
there if his name is not pronounced correctly, I realized that teaching any
subject in the academic cursus is an art in itself, art much higher than any art –
related subject that it has to treat. I became aware of the fact that the lecturer, no
matter what subject he’s trying to communicate to the others, has to approach
his listeners with the qualities of an artist; in fact, he has to become much of an
artist himself, or an acrobat. He has to walk that tight rope over an abbyss of
ignorance and prejudice, thus he has to be , perhaps less of a specialist/expert
who knows his subject the best and more of a communicator to transmit his
knowledge to younger collegues. An educator has to be more than just a
specialist and a high scientist – ideally, he should be a teacher-artist or an artist
of a taught matter and such experts are very few in all the schools throughout
the world. There is a long tradition at the university to not employ a teacher who
is at the same time a creative person, an artist, and this experience is especially
domesticated in the reagons of our “MittelEurope”. Here is the word of an art
historian, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest “what
characterizes the citizens of Mitteleurope is the permanent fear of anything new,
if there’s a creative movement forward, it backs off quickly and gives way to the
negative criticism favoring the annulment of the conceived project”. Rarely we
fully realize something which could be called a radical and thorough change in
our lands in the Balkans-however, what we often find here are the various
tactics of so called temporalization, which are, in fact Paralel Strategies
dragging along the so called deep restructuralization. New projects often get
devalorized , long before they are even presented and partially realized; they get
disqualified often for certain unknown, meaningless and personal reasons.
Perhaps this costant impossibility to realize their projects quickly is the moving
force that pushes artists, writers, philosophers musicians and poets develop their
aesthetic, political and social projects in small and intimate circles and not as
the part of the National Education program. The talated ones create their own
“private-public space “ and often live in their ‘inner exiles”. I partly discussed
the problem as well, in my study on “Eleven Women-Artists, Slavs and
Nomads” when I discussed the early Marina Abramovic’s Conceptual group in
Belgrade including Evgenia Demnievska, Nesha Paripovic, Zoran Popovic,
Rasha Todosijevic and Georgy Urkom. However, it’s never enough to discuss a
problem, examine it in a new light especially this one related to a psychological
block and so called self-shooting in the back, a phenomenon that the peoples
from Mitteleurope really got accustomed to; it really dates from feudal times
when “one new one’s place of a slave bogged down by his own destiny” and it
had to do with the unfair hierarchical system which did not allow people’s
mentality to freely develop for almost 500 years, but it Spain under the Arabs
this cultural hesitance lasted for almost 7 centuries. These cultural barriers are
being erased very slowly as we see some of them entirely disappear in the
beginning of the 21 century, however, one should give both the artists and their
instructors a bit of time to develop their learning practises and the projects that
need to be developed among them.
UMETNOST U OBRAZOVANJU/UMETNOST OBRAZOVANJA
Otpoceli smo ovo izlaganje jednim iseckom iz poznatog Godarovog filma, Kineskinja, koji upravo govori, izmedju ostalih dtvari, o problemu odsecanja kulture od njenog pojavnog vida, akcije, koja je u izvesnom obliku i predavanje te kulture, javno predstavljanje umetnosti masama.u okviru kratkog dijaloga u vozu, muski lik izjavljuje da bi zeleo da osposobi narod da primi svet , da ga dozivi onakav kakav jeste i ne samo da ga vidi onakvim kakav on jeste vec i da se osposobi da reaguje u tom svetu da sam licno doprinese izdradnji sveta, sto je u skracenom obliku, cilj svakog obrazovanja.On kaze da bi zeleo da se udalji od univerziteta, od ustajalog pojma univerziteta kao mesta gde su svi samo primaoci znanja.U svom razgovoru ovaj par, studentkinja i njen profesor filosofije, zakljucuju da nesto strasno nije u redu sa francuskim univerzitetom a to « nesto » zove se sistem obrazovanja (1 :09 : 30, La Chinoise) ; devojka kaze da je zgadjena predavanjima, da se ona uvek izvode po zakonima i receptima odredjene klase, da je cela kultura vidjena okom jedne klase da pripada stoga odredjenoj klasi.Ona zatim predlaze profesoru teroristicki cin paljenja univerziteta, bombardovanja i ubijanja sviju postojecih, studenata i profesora, da bi otpoceo novi univerzitet, hrabri novi svet. Malo je univerziteta u svetu koji su prihvatili ovu godarovsku anarhisticno-maoisticku viziju obrazovne buducnosti, ali mnogi jesu shvatili da u obrazovanju i kulturi dosta toga treba menjati, godina je bila 1967-8.
Nedavno me je, pak, neko pitao « Šta je to kultura?“, zamolio da definišem razliku izmedju kulture i nekulture. Naravno, na teška i razudjena pitanja komplikovano je odgovoriti, ali tada sam rekla da sve ono što širi naš duh i horizont, što nas unapredjuje i gradi, otvara vidike, da je TO kultura, a ono što nas sputava, oglupljuje, baca u unutrašnji mrak i zatvor, da je to nekultura. Pa tako i sa umetnošću i podučavanjem umetnosti i njenom mestu u obrazovanju.
Rekli bismo- sve što nam proširuje vidike i što nas uvodi u samo srce ARS-ARTISA, u njene posebne svetove, bilo da je to muzika, vizuelne umetnosti ili književnost, svako kretanje ka ARTISU nas obogaćuje i obrazuje, a sve ostalo…Naime, postavlja se tu problem da je umetnost TECHNE, nešto što teško možemo podučavati kao što podučavamo odredjene naučne discipline. Ono što možemo ipak podučavati grupu neiniciranih početnika, lica zainteresovana za neku umetnost jeste samo istorija te dotične umetnosti, možemo im interpretirati horizontalnu istoriju odredjene umetnosti, onu geografsku, podeljenu u geografske regione- kao „književnost Španije“, muziku Italije“ i slično…naravno, ispresecano vertikalnom, hronološkom istorijom te umetnosti- na primer, predajemo renesansnu muziku Italije, ili baroknu književnost Španije. Ono što se tada dogadja kod prisutnih koji vas slušaju i u duhu beleže umetničke prakse odredjenih regiona kroz epohalne jedinice ili vremenske periode jeste da ti učesnici ili učesnice vaše klase jedino i isključivo pooštravaju svoju osetljivost, njihov sopstveni umetnički senzibilitet. Ako im puštate na muzičkoj akademiji, na primer, primere barokne muzike, vi ih ne možete naučiti da komponuju recimo Paganinijev Kapričo. Ne možete ih čak ni naučiti kako da ga odsviraju na način na koji ga je izvodio autor ili njegovi savremenici, ono što mogu nakon dugog slušanja baroknih partitura otkriti je …da su barokne partiture statistički uvek za pola tona ili za ceo ton niže od recimo, ičpresionističkih. Ono što sigurno možete u njima sigurno probuditi je ljubav ili svest o izvesnom odstupanju od norme u komponovanju muzike što je posledica upražnjavanja barokne muzičke prakse, ili im možete probuditi interesovanje za orijentalnu muzičku lestvicu koja se takodje izvodi u nižoj, bemolskoj skali, kao što je čujemo kod Debisija ili Bele Bartoka ali ih nikako ne možete naučiti kako da praktično izvode tu muziku ili kako da se otisnu i pomere od onog lako savladljivog do onog tehnički savršenog što olako nazivamo umetnišću.
U tom smislu, kada sam u oblasti ARS POETIKE, pre jedne pesničke radionice koju sam pripremala za mlade pesnike u Njujorku sredinom 1980ih, zapitala starijeg kolegu, pesnika Čarlsa Bernstina, kako da podučavam učesnike seminara, on mi je odgovorio „Ne možeš nikoga naučiti pisanju poezije, već im samo daj listu imena pesnika ili pisaca koje si ti kao omladinka volela i čitala“. To je bio najbolji savet koji sam dobila u domenu predavanja ili podučavanja umetnosti bilo kakve vrste, a to je upravo bilo insistiranje na istorijskom trenutku ostvarenog dela. Insistiranjem na ovoj vrsti istorijski orijentisane obuke, u novajliji ili početniku se budi svest o njegovoj vlastitoj mogućnosti ili nemogućnosti u učešću u stvaralačkom činu. Njemu se formira horizont o njegovim vlastitim kreativnim ograničenjima i granicama, kao i o njegovim vlastitim mogućnostima istrajnosti koja je, ispostavilo se, ključna reč u stvaralačkim praksama. Nemačka poslovica glasi „ponavljanje čini majstora“, a tome nas podučavaju i najrazličitije vizuelne prakse umetnika, Marine Abramović, na primer.
Otišla sam daleko. Davno sam pomislila, a to i danas mislim i znam da je umetnost teško ili gotovo nemoguće podučavati. Kqo što reče u jednoj svojoj pesmi veliki i nedavno preminuli pesnik, Raša Livada „Učitelj nikada ne saopšti celokupno svoje znanje učeniku-ako ga voli“. U smislu da je velika količina svakog ARS-ARTISA koju treba preneti na učenika obavijena velom tajne i ostaje na učeniku da je sam dokučim na izvesan način učitelj je onaj koji je tu samo da nagovesti tajnu a ne da je sažvaće uče:s:niku Nije ovde reč,pak, o matematičkim formulama.
Volela bih da naglasim da sam za isvesnih trideset i pet godina univerzitetskog i šire, predavačkog staža uvek izbegavala da predajem umetnost kao kreativni čin i akciju, u vreme kada sam živela na takozvanom Zapadu i to u trenutku kada su takve prakse na Zapadu bile u najvećem opticaju. Kao nekadašnja članica LIVING TEATRA predavala sam istoriju avangardnog teatra, američkog i evropskog na francuskom univerzitetu Paris 8, kao i istoriju književne usmene i pisane avangarde, ali sam uvek za završni ispit na teatrologiji nagovarala studente da pristupe lično kreativnom činu i da pri pravljenju opšteg osvrta na istorijsku avangardu takodje nama prikažu i nešto svoje da nam predstave na usmenom ispitu svoj izraz, njihovu ličnu predstavu, lični utisak i interpretaciju onoga čime ih je istorija drame podučila. Nisam želela da mi prepričavaju, recimo, šta je sve radio Antinen Arto ili Tadeuš Kantor i da se poslužim sad Kantorovim rečima, nisam želela da stvaram „mrtvu klasu“, ni u pozorištu a ni u životu koji je pozornica svakog kreativnog čina. Pošto ih nisam podučavala pozorišnom pokretu, specifičnim glumačkim tehnikama, već im prosto prepričavala, sažimala istorijsko pozorišno tkivo, prikazujući im na odredjenim primerima iz istorije avangardne dramske tehnike kako je, na primer „Mejerhold uvodio biomehanički trening“ i pokazala im praktično kako se to odvijalo, naši rezultati na univerzitetu Paris 8 bili su veoma plodonosni. Studenti su hvatali najsuptilnija značenja mog znanja i iskustva tako reći „u vazduhu“. Mislim da tako, nenametljivo i suptilno treba predavati i pisanje, otuda moj mali traktat o poeziji, objavljena zbirka „Umetnost hvatanja bumeranga“.
Medjutim, sada primećujem da sam se donekle udaljila od zadate teme „Umetnost u Obrazovanju i vidim da sam neosetno skliznula u jednu drugu oblast koju bi možda trebalo da naslovimo „Umetnost obrazovanja“ ili kako nenametljivo, nečujno i skoro nevidljivo obrazovati potencijalnog umetnika. O umetnosti pedagogije koja je i umetnost i nauka, odista bi trebalo da se dosta toga saopšti, možda ipak neki drugi put. Kada sam se osvrnula na umetnost predavanja umetnosti, pomenula sam u ovom kontekstu Paganinija i Marinu Abramović, a želela sam da naglasim i nešto drugo, da pomenem neka druga imena koja sede u studentskim klupama a koja su takodje veoma važna . Pripremajući predavanja o umetnicima i o nekoj umetnosti, bila sam svesna činjenice da je možda najvažniji elemenat u predavanju bilo koje materije ili umetničkog predmeta- aktivna budnost studenta ili budjenje njegove pažnje, njegove zainteresovanosti za datu umetnost. U pristupu studentu i materiji koju student sluša, svaki predavač, bez obzira na predavani predmet trebalo bi da se stavi u ulogu umetnika ili da postane umetnik. Kada sam prilikom prozivanja studenata na Sorboni, a ovo iskustvo traje nekih celih pet minuta na početku svakog časa, kada sam primetila da je u ovom kvalitativno najvažnijem trenutku našeg časa koji relativno kratko traje a najvažniji je jer od njega zavisi da li će momentalno ugrabiti učenikovu pažnju, kada sam dakle primetila da studentu Hasanu radikalno opada interesovanje za predavanje ako mu ime pogrešno izgovorim kao „Asan“ a ne Hasan, shvqtilq sqm u tom trenutku da je predavanje bilo kog predmeta, a pogotovo onog umetničkog- umetnost po sebi. I da predavač treba gotovo uvek da bude mnogo više umetnik, budni akrobata koji spretno korača po zategnutom konopcu iznad ambisa svakojakog neznanja i predrasude, a manje neki izuzetno visoki specijalistam koji „najbolje na svetu“ poznaje tu naukum taj predmet koji će predavati začudjenim studentima. Predavač mora biti više od visokog naučnika i profesionalca- idealno, on bi trebalo da bude predavač-umetnik ili umetnik predavanja, a takvih stručnjaka je na svim školama u svetu relativno i nažalost, jako malo. Tradicionalno- vecina skola i dalje ne zele da angazuju predavace koji su istovremeno umetnici, kreativci, narocito u nasim oblastima, takozvane Mittelevrope. Evo sta kaze Laurend Hegyi na tu temu: „ono sto karakterise stanovnike Mitelevrope je permanentni strah prema svemu novom, kreativni istup se ubrzo povlaci i ustupa mesto kritici i odbacivanju projekta. Retko u tim zemljama mozemo ostvariti potpunu promenu, radikalnu i celovitu- cesce tu nalazimo taktike temporalizacije tkzv Paralelne Strategije koje odugovlace sa dubokom restrukturacijom. Novi projekti se cesto devalorizuju, pre no sto su iskazani i ostvareni u celosti, njih diskvalifikuju cesto iz polovicnih, beznacajnih, i licnih razloga.“ Mozda ova stalna nemogucnost ka brzom osvarivanju, kaze Hegyi, i navodi umetnike, pisce, filozofe, muzicare pesnike da ostvaruju estetske, politicke i socijalne projekte u njihovim licnim i malim krugovima a ne u javnom obrazovanju; oni stvaraju njihov „ privatan javni prostor“ i zive u nekoj vrsti unutrasnjeg egzila. O tome govorila i ja u mojoj knjizi 11 Umernica slavenki i nomadkinja, o trajanju konceptualne grupe Marine Abramovic, Evgenije Demnievske i naravno Paripovica, Popovica , Todosijevica i Urkoma.
Čini mi se da je svako putovanje u neki kraj istovremeno i najbolje putovanje u našu unutrašnjost, jer svaki čovek tek na distanci najjasnije vidi svoje mesto, mesto svoga naroda i svoje kulture koju ponekad isuviše vrednujemo ili, kao u našem srpskom slučaju, premalo cenimo, kaže Nina Živančević povodom svoje nove knjige „Ono što se pamti” (izdavač „Kornet”), zbirke putopisnih eseja za koju je dobila podršku francuskog Nacionalnog centra za knjigu koji joj je dodelio stipendiju namenjenu stvaralaštvu „izuzetnog pisca”.– Ta stipendija pomaže piscu da živi i piše nekih godinu dana i dodeljuje se odista piscima izuzetnog statusa koji imaju puno knjiga iza sebe. Naravno da ja nisam spadala u tu kategoriju, ali dobila sam je i osim novčane pomoći, ona prija našoj duši. Kao da te neki stariji kolega potapše po ramenu i kaže: „Mali, na pravom si putu, samo nastavi” – kaže autorka 20 knjiga poezije, 3 romana i 3 zbirke priča, koja od 1981. godine živi van Srbije, najpre u Vašingtonu, zatim u Njujorku do 1994, a posle toga, već gotovo četvrt veka, u francuskoj prestonici.
U ovoj knjizi ima dosta ličnog, utkanog u večno i univerzalno. Snaga misli prevazilazi žanr putopisa i uvodi nas u esejistiku. Šta je bio najjači podstrek da napišete ovo delo?
Donekle komercijalan žanr putopisa, koji vulgarno opisuje ljude i mesta kroz koje prolazimo, nikada nije bio deo mog spisateljskog interesovanja. Mislim da tu foto-aparat ima mnogo bolju prođu. A i istini za volju, iako živim u gradu „impresionizma”, impresionizam ili opisni pristup slici, događaju, nikada me nije zanimao.
Ja sam dete suštinskog pristupa stvarima ili ekspresionizmu, nekom krvavom osećanju koji vas tera da se ujutro probudite sa teskobom u srcu. Najveći podstrek da napišem ovu knjigu bio je poriv da objasnim sebi i drugima ono što na nekom putovanju stvarno vidim. Dakle, u Africi vidim nemaštinu, divljinu neoliberalizma i leporozne, a manje mahanje repa lavova u safariju.
Dajete paralelu između Mišoovog doživljaja Indije i vašeg? U nečemu se slažete snjim, a u nečemu ne?
Slažemo se u mnogo čemu! Anri Mišo je moj veliki učitelj, evropski pesnik nadrealista ogromnog kalibra koji me je pre svega „posavetovao”, nekada davno, da treba da nastavim da se izražavam u vizuelnim umetnostima, jednostavno rečeno da svaki pisac treba i da crta i slika, i obratno. Mišo je verovao u sinesteziju i totalnu umetnost, negde kao Vagner. Ali ono što mi je zasmetalo u knjizi „Varvarin u Aziji” jeste njegovo kolonijalno, odnosno donekle kolonizatorsko oko kojim je gledao, pogled kojim donekle i mene danas gledaju Francuzi. Mislim da je on, mada čovek širokog duha i kulture, ipak bio žrtva svoje epohe, kao donekle i Andre Malro.
Knjiga obuhvata i putovanja u Egipat, Italiju, Španiju, London i Peru. Šta je zajedničko za sva ova mesta u vašem svetu?
Zajedničko svim ovim zemljama bila je moja potreba da tumačim velikog Drugog (po meni, a ne po Žižeku i po Lakanu, taj Drugi, bilo koji je Veliki Drugi, a ne neki mali „objekat A” kojim tumačimo sebe!). Nekim od ovih zemalja zajednički imenitelj je bio hotel, kao suštinsko okupljanje karakteristika svačijeg karaktera, manifestacija svakog spoljnjeg putovanja. Da, kroz hotele sam prolazila, još uvek prolazim – i mrzim ih, jer su bezlični. Kažu da je Bob Dilan uvek stavljao neke svoje marame na prozor svakog hotela u kom bi boravio da ga podsete na dom.
Posle dugogodišnjeg življenja u inostranstvu, kakav je danas vaš odnos prema Srbiji u koju, uostalom, često dolazite? I šta biste prvo napisali kada biste pisali putopis o našoj zemlji?
Osećam se izazvanom ovde i reći ću ono što stvarno mislim, iako se plašim da ću skočiti samoj sebi u usta: patetika, plač i naša kuknjava da smo istorijske žrtve oduvek su mi bile odvratne, ali plašim se da podaci nisu bili neistiniti, jer smo u onoj velikoj seobi naroda i Slovena, uvek izvlačili karte koje nikako nisu ličile na pobedničke džokere. Naravno, to što ja intimno mislim da se ne treba žaliti na usud i plakati nad sudbinom samo je deo moje ćutljive budističke prirode. Ali čini mi se da ni Ukrajince niko ne čuje kada laju na mesec. No dobro, kažu da smo svi bili jedan isti narod, stari Sloveni, što sam opisala u priči „Vasilisa Prekrasna”. Dok prolazim Srbijom osećam uvek tu praslovensku blagorodnost koja prevazilazi pojmove pronicljive i široke gostoprimljivosti. Ja se ponosim činjenicom da potičem iz naših krajeva! Jednom sam se, čak, osetila kao Đoković: kada sam 2013. u Peruu predstavljala srpsku poeziju, Srbiju, na stadionu u Limi pred 5.000 ljudi!
decembar 2014 – januar 2015.
Pariz , Rijad, Koći, Džeda, Pariz
Misao o barbarogeniju proganjala je avangardu, neobične ljude poput Micića i Anrija Mišoa.
U praskozorje 1931. Mišo rešava da ostavi iza sebe duh kolonizatora, odlazi u Indiju i piše tekst Varvarin u Aziji. Osetio se kao varvarin probuđen nadohvat jedne drevne civilizacije, kao što se možda osetio Antonen Arto nakon velike kolonijalne izložbe, u Parizu, početkom dvadesetog veka, koja mu je promenila shvatanja o životu i umetnosti.
Mišo: „Video sam čoveka na ulici. On me je ščepao, i nisam više nikoga primećivao osim njega. Vezao sam se za njega, sledio ga, ubeđen da na svetu postoji samo on; on i flautista; i čovek koji se bavi pozorištem; i akrobata na žici koji gestikulira; u trenutku sam ih sve snimio, sve shvatio.
Mišo će zatim reći da ni Indija ni njeno društvo i narodi ne treba nikada, baš nikada, da podlegnu uticaju Zapada, što je velikodušno osećanje jednog zapadnjaka koje ja, biće sa Balkana, nikada, baš nikada, nisam mogla da osetim.
Varvarka sam upravo ja, ili Titova rođaka, onog Tita koji je sa Nehruom i Naserom pravio ’treći’, to jest nesvrstani svet.
Na kraju svog putovanja Mišo će reći: „Posmatrao sam sebe na tom putovanju kao da posmatram nekog drugog, nekog ko gleda emotivno i seća se jedne imaginarne zemlje u kojoj ne živi. Ja nisam bio u njoj, ja nisam bio tu.”
Ja sam pak, za razliku od Mišoa, stalno živela varvarski, bila sam deo te zemlje, videla sam je, bila sam tu i kad sam obitavala drugde.
Ujutro, pre polaska na put, upalim televizor i šta vidim – strašne posledice cunamija na plažama Kerale koje su me opominjale da idem u neku posebnu ’zonu’, već viđenu okom Tarkovskog – bio je to neki njegov, sasvim poseban interplanetarni svet. Pitam se kako se život mogao nastaviti nakon cunamija, kako mu stanovništvo nije izbeglo, zašto se predalo, zašto su tu ostali svi oni koji su ostali i zašto nisu otišli u neki novi svet?
S pogledom izlomljenog ogledala, koji ne pada ni previše nisko niti se pak isuviše uzdiže ka nebu, prekrštenih nogu, hindusi meditiraju tela podeljenog u sedam čakri, u lotosu, pri nebu, u ranojutarnjim i večernjim molitvama boginji Kali, sa postojanošću i uživanjem, što na sanskritu znači bav. Usmereni na večnost, udubljeni u sebe, usporeni, samokontrolisani i dostojanstveni, hindusi se nikada ne žeste niti nerviraju, kaže Mišo, tako da onaj ko ima želju da zapeva, taj peva, onaj ko želi da se pomoli, on se moli. Najviše veruju životinjama poput krave, slona i majmuna, svetim životinjama koje su kao i oni, mirne i naizgled bezbrižne, u svakom slučaju ravnodušne prema spoljašnjem svetu, koji hindusi nazivaju iluzija ili maja. Krava se, na primer, najede trave, nikako deteline, da bi zatim varila po nekoliko sati ono što je progutala.
Pitam se da li ću ja, koja živim od iluzije (svakodnevnog teatra barbarogenija) i od žvakanja deteline, videti sve ono što je Mišo tamo video. Jer svako vidi ono što mu je dato da vidi, ono što već zna o nekom predmetu ili čoveku. I neće videti ništa što već nije čuo, video ili naslutio ranije.
Hindus, kaže Mišo, voli životinje koje nisu odveć zahvalne čoveku, znači ne voli naročito psa i mačku jer njih ne privlači odviše mudra meditacija, zbog prirode njihovog uznemirenog i dinamičnog bića. Hindus mora da promišlja, onakav kakvog ga vidimo u ranim indijskim filmovima, daleko pre Satjađit Raja, kada su i besni vojnici nekog radže najpre odlučivali (po nekoliko minuta u filmu) da li da se razbesne ili ne. I na kraju bi ih ipak razbesnela data situacija. A danas je Indija jedna od najvećih svetskih sila koja je izašla iz recesije i uspešno žvaće detelinu najsvežijeg neoliberalizma.
Što se konja tiče, Mišo smatra da je u životu svih hindusa konj, onako lud i dinamičan, u daleko manjoj prednosti od kamile, jer kamila retko galopira i trči – ona stabilno i promišljeno stavlja jedno kopito pred drugo, zabavljena sopstvenom sporošću, koju mnogi nazivaju dromedarstvom. Hindus, dakle, poštuje sporost i stabilnost, što se ogleda u njegovom osećaju za jezik. Hindi, spor, grgurav jezik, sav je sastavljen od konsonanata koji se spopliću i teku, teški i hrskavi. Na tom jeziku su spevane – a i dalje se pevaju – najviše religiozne himne naspram kojih evropsko stvaralaštvo izgleda smešno i bahato. Indijska misao je magična – ona ima magijski karakter i bliska je svojoj orijentalnoj filozofiji, koja se uvek obraća Biću ili Brahmi. Mišo duhovito kaže da zapadnjački filozofi promišljajući svoju muku gube kosu, a da orijentalci muku skraćuju tako što puštaju da im kosa raste. Njihove misli upućene Brahmi donekle su različite od naših, uslovno rečeno evropskih, jer smo mi bića razdvojena od Apsoluta, što kažu Upanišade: „Oni koji odu sa ovoga sveta a nisu otkrili atman i spoznali njegovu suštinu neće dostići oslobođenje NI U JEDNOM SVETU”.
Da bi se približili toj suštini, hindusi recituju mantre i – dišu. Jedna od varijanti božanskog udisanja-izdisanja, takozvani udžaj, odvija se na sledeći način: četiri udisaja kroz levu nozdrvu, zadržiš dah, pa zatim šesnaest izdisaja kroz desnu nozdrvu. Njegova molitva boginji Udisanja–Izdisanja, stvaranja i razaranja, majci Kali, može da otpočne.
Hindusi više veruju majci, boginji materinstva, nego boginjama ženstvenosti Lakšmi, Radi i Sarasvati, koje su čulni avatari ili avatarke Šive, sveopšteg stvaraoca. Ako postoji pojam sveca kod hindusa, onda je to majka, kao simbol požrtvovanosti, žrtvovanja za druge, za generaciju koja dolazi, jer o prošlosti ne treba razmišljati, prošlost je akašik – traka koja teče i upravo se manifestuje u sadašnjem trenutku. Majka je Velika MA, i ona održava poredak svih stvari neophodnih za produžetak vrste i opstanak, a za hindusa je generacija koja dolazi, koja produžava porodicu i vrstu važnija od njega samog. Pojam žrtvovanja kao procesa izuzetno je važan ovom narodu koji se prvo žrtvuje za delove tradicije i prošlosti, zatim se skromnim bivstvovanjem žrtvuje u trenutku u kome živi, a docnije se žrtvuje za potomke. Sve pojave indijskog panteona su čulne jer slave život i Apsolut na najočigledniji način, ali u tolikoj meri da mi, zapadnjaci, naspram njih izgledamo kao puke posledice oplakivanja Hrista, žalosti za Bogom; u našim crkvama ili katedralama osećamo se tako mali i mizerni u susretu sa Apsolutom, koga se plašimo.
Veliki asketa Ramakrišna oblačio se – kako neki kažu – u ženu, jer je kao žena želeo da ga voli Bog koji je sišao sa panteona da bi živeo među ljudima. Hinduistički molitvenik je praktičan i sprema vernika da se izbori sa snagama zla u životu: Rigveda je puna konkretnih i praktičnih saveta. Mantre i ponude u obliku insensa, sveća i hrane pomažu verniku, na nadasve praktičan način, da se približi Apsolutu, a lepota dekora ili ponude tu i nije važna. Kao i u najmističnijem delu katoličanstva, hindus se idolatrijskom askezom približava Apsolutu i obožava u ekstazi.
On mu se klanja, prostire se ničice pred njim, mada neće nikada povikati kao naš hrišćanin: „Iz dubine vičem k tebi, Gospode!” (De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine.) Neće vikati na ovaj način jer se hindus oseća jakim pred svojim bogom, a ne kao crkveni miš, jadan i bespomoćan pred licem bede. On će prisiliti svog boga da mu pomogne, neće drhtati pred njim od straha ili od tuge pregoleme. Glasno i sa puno bava on će otpevati svoj AUM; postići će smirenje, dobiće snagu u molitvi, pljunuće na sve demone koji ga okružuju, neće im samo zapretiti da ustupe sa: „Natrag Sotono”, on će ih ispljuvati i izlupati, uništiti moralno i materijalno, i Sotona se (bar neko vreme, u njegovoj glavi) neće pojavljivati.
A sve ovo se odvija polako, u ubrzano–usporenom svetu Indije, veoma polako, jer hindus nikada ne žuri, ne trči. Molitve izgovara lančano, 38.000 stihova Ramajane, kao i 100.000 stihova Mahabharate, koji teku polako, bez ijedne vidljive (r)evolucije u epovima, koji ni sami nemaju neki određeni centar ili vrhunac radnje… Ovo nam sve kaže Mišo, kartezijanac, koga nije mrzelo, još onda, te daleke 1931, da prebrojava drevne stihove na sanskritu.
Isečak iz knjige Ono što se pamti; Kornet 2017
One day I stopped loving it
I felt being its only representation, representative and a uniformed statue. I was the only replica of my own insane creation, I became a dated caricature of my old powerful but degenerated self, a piece of Débris art admired by the connoisseurs of the Abject long ago.
I knew death was around the corner, now that I had almost 75 to 80 percent of my friends’ names and references crossed out in my telephone book. I did not complain though and accepted begrudgingly this fact, shrugged my shoulders with a long “sooo what…”
I find myself presently on a bus rushing from Beograd to Paris (the Easter vacation’s over and lots of children, kids of the forlorn Serbs and Gypsies living in Diaspora are eager to get back home–although, very few of them knew exactly where their home was).
To be honest, the same goes for me: I’ve had a vague idea where I was heading to–I was heading to the place where I would see, once upon a time–lots of art…heading to a place where I was watching a lot of good movies with my kid… Or was that place an epitome of laughter, soft evenings, sweet gatherings with like-minded friends–where we, armed with gin and absinthe, shared our latest verses, news, gossip?
No point of return there… With a certain geometrical progression in their mad speed of disappearance–my buddies left the battlefield and in Paris I dwelled all alone. The morning television program from Chanel ARTE would vaguely disperse the deadly silence which reigned over my apartment… And the monotonous sound of the cell phone would sort of start bleeping on its own, urging me to dial one or two numbers which were still left intact in my book, I mean they remained uncrossed on the page, shining through… But who were those people anyway?
Certainly, they were not my buddies, the folks whose brilliance marked my existence and whose presence in art and science–as much as in my life–meant so much to me–alas! Such rare treasures in my life tended to disappear in huge lumps, they all oozed down the drain… And first of all–they were replaced by those aforementioned dummies… who did not qualify as real partners in my scholarly meditations and then… Slowly but surely those disappeared from my horizon as well–one thing for sure–among all imitative qualities in life–real affection and camaraderie cannot be invoked and faked easily on a daily basis
You call people and you see one another, but you both know that it’s a fake… Like a fake fur or a plastic cake–you have a taste of the real thing, you still remember its original shape and size but sadly enough you attest to the fact that this encounter between you two IS NOT IT, not the real thing you treasured so much and remembered.
So that’s how I found myself in the utmost loneliness in the most solitary town on Earth and that was Paris. Oh, the loneliness of the long distance runner, the film by Lindsay Anderson, how I knew you well!
But perhaps never did it strike me with such clarity, with such desperate unforgiving clarity as it did this morning, while riding on this quiet bus with the spring breakers munching their forlorn sandwiches–I was under the special sepulchral impression that my life was this time, definitively over. I finished it, ruined by my utmost speed–like I was running somewhere–could not determine exactly where. But I was rushing to get over there and I was burnt out in my own endeavour
Burnt by my own speed which propelled me to get there, anywhere–AHEAD of my own time!
This discovery almost made me laugh–and I rushed to call that special friend, confidant to my lonely efforts–but hmmm–there was no one to reach out for. I was heading to my own dystopian nest in the heart of Montmartre, but I dreaded opening its doors of perception, at that particular place where my physical home was, where I dwelled in Paris, in the 17th arrondissement where also my very heart of hearts and my memories were locked, but I lost the key to that door and was never happy while sleeping, eating or working in it (the existential dread…)
Although Andrzej Wajda says in his last great film Blue Flowers that the frontier between politics and art should not be erased, we feel that the world we live in forbids its citizens to ignore the effects of global political and ecological issues. The face of Art(s) becomes dirty and ugly to those who tend to its overwhelming neoliberal and commercial Endeavours and who ignore the burning issues of humanity. Oliver Ressler’s work, especially the documentaries of this contemporary Austrian filmmaker cum activist and performance artist reveal his humanist obsession with
Human misery and hardship.
Artur Zmijewski is another responsible filmmaker–he filmed the now burned “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais…otherwise known as the shame on the face of France, and shame on the face of greedy England.
The question which another one, Le Grice, asks in his book Shoot Shoot Shoot: the First Decade of the London Film-makers’ Co-operative 1966-76, for example, is “whether any aspect of illusion or sequential narrational structure can be made compatible with the anti-illusionist materialistic aesthetics”? In other words, how can we watch Cloud(s), talk about clouds, film them and at the same time, not pay for them, not worry about them being polluted, not disappear inside of them for a lot of money etc. etc.
Yes, how can we…
Concentration camp resembles a Grand Hotel (Alain Resnais)
But does a grand hotel resemble a camp or a jail of a sort?
For us to discover…
by Nina Živančević as seen in The Opiate
Alors que le France se prépare à voter pour le second tour et repense à la montée ou la progression des idées d’extrême droite – ce qui nous amène à la question du fascisme, des évènements culturels à Paris sont là pour essayer de rappeler à chacun les plus atroces aboutissements du fascisme que représente l’Holocauste.
Il y a deux jours, un vibrant hommage était rendu au Musée parisien du Judaïsme à Primo Levi : une conférence était menée par Daniela Amsallem et fut suivie de la représentation théâtralisée/dramatisée de l’interview de Levi par Ferdinand Camon. Les salles de cinéma ont à l’affiche des films tels que “Django” (de Etienne Comar) et «Le procès du siècle» (de Mick Jackson) qui font de l’Holocauste leur thème, plus précisément de cette folle et systématique extermination des minorités juive, slave et rom (“gitane”) perpétrée par le régime nazi durant la seconde guerre mondiale.
Actuellement les médias qui suivent les préceptes du politiquement correct font en sorte de ne pas prononcer deux mots qui pourraient froisser les oreilles et les opinions des votants : ces mots sont fascisme et peur. Mais après avoir écrit ces mots, mon stylo reste coincé sur mon oreille nouvellement gauchiste, j’ai du mal à oublier que le candidat du centre Emmanuel Macron n’a eu dans sa victoire qu’une faible avance sur la candidate d’extrême droite Marine Le Pen lors du scrutin d’il y a une semaine; et j’ai encore plus de mal à ne pas voir que l’écart tend à se resserrer. En attendant, j’essaie tout comme d’ailleurs la majorité des habitants de cette France humaine, éclairée et égalitaire, de ne pas céder à la panique; état dans lequel j’essaie de me remémorer la première fois que j’ai prêté attention à ce phénomène de société fasciste: ce qui peut amener cette situation, ce qu’elle représente, les auteurs de son avènement – et bien sûr, les fâcheuses conséquences qui en découlent.
Il y a deux livres ouverts sur mon bureau devant moi : “Eichmann in Jérusalem” de Hannah Arendt et “Si c’est un homme” de Primo Levi. La question du fascisme a commencé à occuper mon esprit la première fois à la lecture du rapport fait par Arendt du procès Eichmann qui eut lieu à Jérusalem en 1961. Hannah Arendt, philosophe allemande, a essayé avec insistance de trouver la réponse à la question qui hante l’humanité “Pourquoi les victimes ne se sont-elles jamais rebellées ? Comment est-il possible que ces victimes se soient laissées systématiquement écraser sous les bottes du fascisme, et aient pu souffrir un génocide ayant visé des millions de personnes ? Comment se peut-il que des victimes aient été exterminées pendant des années sans un seul signe de protestation ? Comment leur volonté de vivre a-t-elle pu s’éteindre bien avant le moment de leur exécution physique, et comment ces victimes ont pu annuler leur identité et leur voix bien avant de rencontrer ces officiers SS ?»
Arendt dira que le meilleur moyen de garder les gens en esclavage est de les maintenir dans un état de soumission apathique, et que le gouvernement fasciste arrivait à transformer en robots, en mannequins ambulants, des personnes qui, acceptant le statu quo en silence, se retrouvaient dirigés directement vers l’échafaud. Nous avons tous l’expérience de n’avoir pas d’espoir de changer un système de gouvernement en place, nous connaissons l’absence de désir de voter pour QUELQUE candidat présidentiel que ce soit, estimant qu’aucun vote ne pourrait améliorer la situation -tous ceux qui n’ont pas voté cette fois en France avaient ce sentiment, et ont décidé de marcher calmement vers un concentration lager idéologique.
En fait Hannah Arendt ne s’est pas beaucoup intéressée à la personnalité de Eichmann dans son livre. Cet officier Nazi, assez semblable à Klaus Barbie, fût arrêté presque accidentellement à Buenos Aires en 1960. De là il fut emmené directement au tribunal de Nuremberg où il répéta, comme un «banal»citoyen allemand dont il utilisait le vocabulaire, qu’il n’avait fait que son devoir en exécutant les ordres de leur suprême Führer, Hitler. Arendt n’était pas vraiment intéressée par la structure de la personnalité de Eichmann – elle était avant tout intéressée par le phénomène du mal chez l’homme, et par son absence de conscience rapportée au moyen de catégories sociales et philosophiques. Elle pourra ainsi dire «sur le banc des accusés à Jérusalem, ce n’est pas un homme qui est assis pour être jugé par cette cour historique, ce n’est pas non plus le régime Nazi lui-même – mais ce sont les phénomènes de haine et d’antisémitisme qui ont fait leur apparition dans ce monde il y a des siècles».
Eichmann a refusé de plaider coupable à ce procès – son avocat Robert Servicius a déclaré une seule fois que l’accusé se sentait coupable «devant Dieu mais pas devant le système légal en soi». La seule fois où il admit son erreur à la cour fut quand il mentionna la conversation téléphonique qu’il eut avec Franz Rademacher, un membre du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Rademacher était chargé de la question juive en Yougoslavie et Eichmann l’autorisa au cours de cette conversation téléphonique à fusiller de façon systématique les juifs et les gitans de Serbie pour en débarrasser cette partie d’Europe de l’Est. Le général Böhme (qui était la main armée en Serbie) n’avait pas vraiment exécuté l’ordre ou le conseil d’Eichmann avec suffisamment d’efficacité, mais seulement six mois après, ce même Böhme décida d’une initiative de grande envergure en raflant toutes les femmes ainsi que les enfants pour leur appliquer la «solution finale» en utilisant des chambres à gaz mobiles aménagées dans des camions spéciaux. Alors qu’au cours d’un des procès de Eichmann en Allemagne de l’Ouest en 1952, l’accusé avait déclaré que la plus grande opération d’épuration en Serbie avait été réalisée parce que «l’armée allemande avait pour mission de maintenir l’ordre en Serbie et de fusiller les rebelles juifs», Arendt dit que c’était le pire des mensonges, les juifs ne s’étant jamais organisé en rébellion armée en Serbie, contrairement à ce qu’ils avaient fait en Hollande en 1941.
Est-ce que je puis, après avoir lu ces lignes, avoir des idées sur la nature du régime fasciste et de l’insipide, pernicieuse « banalité du mal commis » ? Non, ce fut un jour où au Quai d’Orsay, j’ai rencontré Hubert Védrine, qui était alors ministre français des Affaires étrangères, et, lors d’une conférence spéciale réservée aux journalistes serbes, français, macédoniens et albanais, alors que les collègues journalistes lui demandaient comment s’était-il sentait quand il avait débarqué en Serbie, au début de l’an 2000, en ayant à l’esprit que c’est avec son aval que tant de bombes à l’uranium appauvri avaient été larguées sur notre pays. Le ministre, sans trop réfléchir, répondit qu’« [il] avait toujours aimé la Serbie en tant que pays, mais au moment donné [il] n’avait fait qu’accomplir [son] devoir imposé » ! L’un des journalistes l’adressa alors avec frustration : « Monsieur le ministre, il me semble qu’Adlof Eichmann répondant à une question similaire avait donné votre réponse ! ». Aussitôt, la conversation fut déplacée sur un tout autre sujet.
Contrairement à Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi a toujours prétendu qu’un fasciste comme Eichmann, était une personnalité complètement déchaîné, pathologique et destructrice, pas le moins banale. Que son désir de commander et d’exécuter les ordres était lucide, mais relevait d’une folie bipolaire. Le film de Mick Jackson « Le procès du siècle », relate apparemment la procédure judiciaire de l’historienne Deborah Lipstadt, relatée à l’origine dans son livre «L’Histoire en procès : Ma journée au Tribunal avec un négationniste de l’Holocauste », dans lequel cette historienne américaine et défenseur des droits de l’homme, avec arguments à l’appui, et quelque peu impuissante, essaye de faire tomber les revendications de certains groupes sociaux qui affirment que les chambres à gaz n’ont jamais existé pendant de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.
La note accusatoire contre le fascisme resonne encore plus fort dans le film d’Etienne Komara «Django» qui relate de manière sublime et artistique les années de guerre du célèbre musicien de jazz d’origine manouche, Django Reinhardt. Invité par des officiers allemands à leur jouer de « la musique sans grands élans spirituels et des solos et des bravoures », Django assiste à la représentation du « Festin chez Trimalcion » où il joue sa guitare tandis que les officiels se succèdent à lever le toast à l’« Europe unie, l’Europe allemande ». L’excessif arrêt sur image de la caméra sur cette scène ne manque pas d’attirer l’attention même du plus naïf des spectateurs des cinémas français qui finit a un moment par se demander « qui donc maintenant lève le toast – et pour qui ? ». L’une des scènes les plus émouvantes du film vient tout juste après, lorsque le musicien, interprété magistralement par la grande star du film récent, Reda Kateb, brise sa guitare légendaire et creuse avec un trou dans la neige pour s’y cacher – au moment où il fuit avec sa mère et sa femme vers la frontière suisse enneigée.
En dépit des opinions relativement défavorables venant des critiques français orientés vers la droite, ce film est un grand hymne anti-guerre que le réalisateur termine par le « Requiem pour mes frères tziganes » de Django, œuvre qui n’eut qu’une seule représentation en France à ce jour.
L’un des plus grands rassemblements massif de protestation contre le statu quo de la campagne présidentielle aura lieu demain à 16 heures à Paris, place de la République – je me demande si les participants de cet « Appel à l’éveil de La Gauche » laisseront leurs plumes et leurs haches de guerre à la maison ; je me demande si les participants feront leur devoir d’école et prononceront en chœur les mots « fascisme » et « peur » ; je me demande si ils ont lu les souvenirs du grand poète français Robert Desnos qui, à l’arrivée de la Gestapo pour le déporter dans le Camp de concentration – avait remis son stylo à plume à sa fiancée Youki, avec ces mots « ils peuvent emmener mon corps, mais mon esprit reste avec toi », je me demande …