"We turn at the immense horror of Medusa's head", a conversation about Fluid States in Bosnia and Herzegovina, featuring Four Faces of Omarska curator Branislav Jakovljevic with Katarina Lovrecic

"If we imagine Omarska as a vessel with a cargo, what would this cargo be, and what would it have to exchange with other vessels?"

The most important part of the cargo is really this terrible knowledge that we have to face and interrogate this terrific events, that they have their own logic, and that that logic is very often, more often than not, related not to ancient hatreds between Bosnians and Serbs, or Croats and Serbs, and this and the other, but basically with the ideological and economic manipulation, and with uses of live, living human bodies for accomplishing these very pragmatic, unscrupulous goals. It's a horrid issue, and facing it, very often is, like a medusa's head. You feel always compelled to turn around, to not look at it, not to stare at it, because of its immense horror. But the cargo of that particular vessel are precisely the sights of atrocity. It is our task, it is our, I think, a call, to transform these sights of atrocity into sights of production, with insight towards the production, into sights of ethical and political values that will actually resist these kind of impulses, that kind of destruction.

You're focused in your work on finding relation between events and performance. If Fluid States were a performance, what kind of performance would they be?

I see Fluid States as a performance of great magnitude. Usually, we think about performance as a contained, discrete event taking place within a certain kind of culturally dictated level of attention, or a span of attention. So, we can stand a performance that goes on for an hour and a half, and then we turn off. ... Fluid States reminds us that there are different ways of extending our attention, of directing attention. Academic conference also has its span, which is three days, people are mentally prepared to focus for three days. This conference/performance asks for a different kind of focus. It asks everyone involved to maintain their focus for over a year, and not everyone is asked to do this, they can come in an out. It's an open structure performance in which you can engage at different points, at different phases, in different ways."

Katarina Lovrečić talked to Branislav Jakovljević about the logic of PSi Fluid States and about the activities at Omarska, Bosnia. Branislav also revealed which conference, symposium or performance program is his favourite (besides his own, of course).

Listen to the interview here:

Branislav Jakovljević specializes in 20th and 21st century experimental performance, theater history, dramaturgy, and performance across disciplines (visual art, theater, non-aesthetic performance). He recently completed his second book manuscript, Beyond the Performance Principle: Self-Management and Conceptual Art in Yugoslavia.

(Photo:Damir Škomrlj)

Tags: Class Labor Economy and Performance  Disaster Recovery Resilience and Performance  Memory Testimony and Performance  Performance Studies in Europe  Performance Studies in Languages Other Than English  War Trauma Migration Diaspora and Performance  

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