All images by Atej Tutta
Metamorphoses 3º: Retorika
Author of concept and realization Bara Kolenc and Atej Tutta
Performers Sanja Nešković Peršin, Bara Kolenc, Rebeka Radovan, Jošt Pengov-Taraniš, Matej Markovič
Dramaturg Pia Brezavšček
Lighting designers Peter Pivar, Gregor Smrdelj
Sound designers Jernej Černalogar, Jure Vlahovič
Author of the Rumours Song Matevž Kolenc
Make-up designer Anja Cojhter
Technical support Radovan Jaušovec
Executive producers Bara Kolenc, Julia Danila
PR Mojca Zupanič, Rok Avbar
What I Saw
In this multimedia performance we spend the first third of the running time looking at a film about Dr. Ljuba Prenner, a transgender attorney who lived in Yugoslavia in the middle of the 20th century. A beautifully shot portrait full with English narration about a controversial, yet unavoidable figure of Slovenia’s past, this film features an opera singer as Prenner. The sparkling vibratos of the soprano together with the men’s suit and hat make for an image that is full with tension but perfectly lacks authenticity. It is clear that the film does not feature a transgender man – it is as distanced as it can be from the supposed real person. This feels deliberate and makes the film exciting and infinitely aestheticised at the same time. Both the sound and video are great and make it very easy to watch a film in the framework and physical context of the theatre. We sit on the stage of the Slovenian National Theatre, that is used here as a studio space, with the iron curtain closing the playing area from the back.
After the film ends, the projected curtain rolls up to reveal a stage stacked with dozens of old-fashioned mattresses, microphones on stands and black boxes that look like guitar amplifiers and that function as speakers. The next part of the performance consists of accurately choreographed sequences that feature the performers installing and animating the space. Their contribution is not so much performative as it is instrumental: they move around the mattresses, the mic stands, the speakers always with the intent of putting together the next image: they work at creating the performance rather than perform it. Each speaker contains a different audio recording – some of these are found materials, other might be originals, but it is hard to guess without knowing the historical and political context. The stage appears both as mostly empty and full with actions and movements implying various meanings. The mattresses remind me on the one hand of Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea, while, on the other hand, they become a more direct metaphor for borders or limits when they become a wall between two performers attempting to speak to each other. Oppression and incomprehension seem to be reoccurring themes of this segment: inaudible or unrecognisable sounds and texts are overlapped by philosophical contemplations and confessions, while parts of the set and also the actors become vehicles for repressing each other. Monologues are disturbed by fellow performers whispering to the one speaking, soundscapes are created with the moving and removing of the objects, while sometimes smoke covers up the whole stage. Metamorphoses 3º: Retorika is a work that wants to tell and explain all and nothing at the same time.
This chaotic chorus of text, sound and visuals ends with the opera singer appearing on stage. She sings while she traverses upstage right. The iron curtain raises and reveals the actual auditorium of the theatre. The singer walks around a bit between the chairs of the auditorium and then disappears into the foyer. The classical setting of the theatre auditorium as a backdrop for this very clean and modern piece seems again distancing and highly artful. The whole performance is masterful and stern, an unsparing commentary on the state of things.
Nuts and Bolts
Company Name: Kud Samosvoj (producer)
Director(s) of Performance: Bara Kolenc, Atej Tutta
Premiere: 10. 9. 2015, Katedrala, Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, Ljubljana, Slovenia
International Premiere: 18. 5. 2016, 53. Theatertreffen, Berliner Festspiele, Berlin
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. No interval.
Partners: Kud Samosvoj in coproduction with Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, Kud Pozitiv, Plesna Izba Maribor and cooperation with M.I.K.K. Murska Sobota, Zavod DrMr, KC Mostovna
Cast size: 5 (2 male, 3 female)
Touring size: Cast of 5, 3 technicians, 1 driver, 1 producer (10 total)
Minimum height/width/depth of stage: 13 m x 13 m x 13 m
Maximum height/width/depth of stage: 20 m x 20 m x 16 m
Load in time: 12 hours
Strike time: 3 hours
Cartage information: The whole set fits into one middle sized truck.
Translation options: Subtitles
Touring history: Winter dance school, Puppet Theatre Maribor, Feb 2016
Theatertreffen, Berliner Festspiele, main stage, May 2016
Maribor festival, Slovenian National Theatre Maribor, main stage, Oct 2016
Future performance dates: 11. and 12. May 2017, Brut, Vienna
Available for touring from: 1/6/2017
Representation: Bara Kolenc, director, +38640471794 Partizanska 23, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Synopsis: When man opened his mouth, he fell silent. When he spoke out, he lied. When he swore, the word became an act. When he repeated, he believed. When he doubted, he lost his voice.
This is the third performance in the Metamorphoses 1º- 5º series, a multi-year modular project including not only performances but also other artistic and theoretical formats. Each of the five parts enters a broader context of Ovid’s Metamorphoses on the basis of particular current political or social events, connecting them to the universal topics of humanity and deep contradictions of contemporary human beings. Inspired by Ovid’s passage on The House of Rumour (Metamorphoses, XXII. book), Metamorphoses 3º: RETORIKA examines the field of language and communication and enters this field through an artistic articulation of rhetoric, a specific skill that already Aristotle named the art of persuasion. The performance discloses the mechanisms of political, judicial and media rhetoric through the construction of the icon Dr. Love Prenner referencing the real-life story of the highly moral and politically controversial Dr. Ljuba Prenner, a transsexual attorney in post-war Yugoslavia. As an icon, Love Prenner today stands for the questions about the (im)possibility of Europe.
Reviews: "Metamorphoses 3 °: RETORIKA, the final contribution of this year's piece market, is a total composition, between the installation, the museum and the performance, which takes its time - and yet does not get boring.”
Andrea Berger, 19 May 2016
Bara Kolenc is a freelance artist and a researcher and from Ljubljana, Slovenia. She has classical and contemporary dance education. She has finished Primary Ballet School and Primary+Secondary Contemporary Dance Program at the Secondary Ballet School in Ljubljana. In 2003 she was awarded with the European danceWEB scholarship in Vienna. Up till today she has carried out nine performances and numerous solos, public improvisations, short performances and performing acts, installations, lectures and lecture-performances. She is constitutional member of two artistic collectives: Threshold collective and Eat-art collective. She presented her last piece Metamorphoses 3: Retorika at 53. Theatertreffen, Berliner Festspiele. For her work, she has received several awards, most recently the Theatertreffen Stueckemarkt Comission of Work 2016. She holds Ph.D in Philosophy from the Department for Philosophy at Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana and BA+MA from Philosophy and Comparative Literature (2004) at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. She has recently published her book Repetition and Enactment: Kierkegaard, Psychoanalysis, Theatre at Analecta, DTP, Ljubljana. As a guest professor, she lectures at the Academie of Theater, Film and Television and at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana.
Atej Tutta is a Slovenian visual artist and film director based in Venice, Italy. He holds MFA in Mixed Media and Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts, Venice, where he also worked as Associate Professor for the past five years. Tutta has contributed to the exhibition programme at the Magazzino del Sale 3, Venice. As co-curator, communication designer, set-up coordinator and mentor, he collaborated at different art exhibitions such as "Elaborare il lutto, Arte Orfana della specie", “For(w)art”, “Il Prof Rodčenko, fotografie dallo Vchutemas”. He has taken part in several international and transdisciplinary projects, among them Divided God, arTVision – A Live Art Channel. He is a founding member of the "Threshold” Collective.