Exhibition opening and meeting with the authors: WED, 8 May 2013 at 8 pm
Responsiblity for Things Seen is a spatial intervention and five channel real-time video installation by the Zagreb-based theatre company BADco. It present as a an effort to recreate "theatre by other means", pushing the audience center stage, and creating a narrativised interactive environment that focuses on the ethical questions relating to watching and participating in images. The work was commissioned by curatorial collective WHW and first presented within the Croatian presentation at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.
The present times, ridden with the sustained crisis of capitalism, environmental catastrophes and the depletion of common resources, require a reordering of economic and political relations on a global scale. As is repeatedly echoed throughout BADco's work: "When there is not enough for everybody, there is no equitable order that can be negotiated. It can function and be understood only on the basis of active policing of differential entitlements and exclusions." Yet attempts to fathom the ongoing reordering of the global space and to imagine a different course of social development to the existing capitalist system run aground at the limits of representation of systemic totality and the fragmention of agency within it. Even in the face of crass injustices, the collective capacity to imagine and project the common future remains captured in images, creating generalised desires, consumerist fragmentation of responsibility and a sense of public progress that are ultimately mobilised to sustain and maximize private profit. BADco's work reflects this conundrum using what’s most immediate to them as theatre makers: investigating strategies of representation, spatial orderings of representation, future scenarios and asymmetric acts of collective communication.
Responsibility for Things Seen starts as a spatial intervention: an insertion of the outside space into the exhibition room. The existing gallery wall has been replicated in the gallery space, and the non-space behind the original wall now populates the exhibition room. This non-space is a withdrawal of space, a double negativity: not quite this exhibition space, not quite a different place. This non-space is populated by video screens, that extend Badco.'s intervention from space to time. The comings and goings of people are recorded and displayed, together with pre-recorded footage that makes the audience become co-present in time with someone who is not with them in the space. The image is a time machine, a transport in time. It opens and forecloses the imagination of the future. Present, past and possible futures are endlessly mixed and overlapped. Three videos provide intimate cinematic accounts, each accessible only to one spectator at any one time, of displacements in space, image and human presence. The first is a photo essay. The second is a mix of choreography of performers absent from the actual exhibition space and the inadvertent movement of exhibition visitors who are present. The third display shows a live camera shot processed by software subtracting or adding the human presence in the exhibition space. Furthermore, two interactive videos show short cinematic narratives algorithmically edited in real time using prerecorded material and live feed from cameras in the exhibition space. Finally, intermittent choreographic interventions are staged during the opening of the piece.
This work endures as a temporal installation: it records in images the comings and goings of people. Theatre, BADco's actual line of work, always requires the presence of artists. It cannot take place if they are not there. And here, in the exhibition, they remain in their absence. In recorded images – as the audience will too. And in images on screens the audience will see the presence of its absent fellow-visitors, just as it will perhaps witness the absence of its own presence. Become co-present in time with someone who is not with them in the space.
Responsibility for Things Seen demands a scopic act: the much maligned capacity of images to capture our imagination and to supplant our sociality by its simulation is only commensurate with our capacity to always produce new images, new configurations and new disfigurations of images. Here it’s no different. BADco. did produce images, BADco. did attempted to create images differently. And, yet, things don’t stop here. There seems to be something incomplete in images that coax out our action in the receptive act of viewing: our intent capacity to become captured, our passionate passivity in surrendering to our own hijacking, our engaged absorption in the intimacy of images. And it’s not the sovereign, enlightened spectator that is the agent of this activity. Rather it’s a beholder that loses her firm ground as she becomes immersed in an image, while the image loses its clarity as she starts deciphering its detail, unraveling a scene that becomes more and more impossible to relate to as she looks closer and closer, requiring a spiral of reading, a responsibility disturbed by the non-totalizable subject of the image.
Responsibility for the Things Seen is based on BADco.’s analytical performative principles. It is an evolving work, presented as ‘theatre by other means’- through an installation and an intervention.
Responsiblity for Things Seen at Aksioma | Project Space
BADco. is a collaborative performance collective based in Zagreb, Croatia. As a combination of four choreographers / dancers, two dramaturgs and one philosopher, since its beginning (2000), it systematically focuses on the research of protocols of performing, presenting and observing by structuring its projects around diverse formal and perceptual relations and contexts. Reconfiguring established relations between performance and audience, challenging perspectival givens and architectonics of performance, problematizing of communicational structures – all of that makes BADco. an internationally significant artistic phenomenon and one of the most differentiated performance experiences. So far the group has produced more than 15 performances that were presented all over Europe and in the United States.
The artistic core of the collective are Pravdan Devlahović, Ivana Ivković, Ana Kreitmeyer, Tomislav Medak, Goran Sergej Pristaš, Nikolina Pristaš, Lovro Rumiha and Zrinka Užbinec.
Responsibility for Things Seen was first presented at the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia in 2011 as part of the Croatian Exhibition
Curators: What, How and for Whom/WHW
Software and interactive installation: Daniel Turing
Light design: Alan Vukelić
Cinematography and still photography: Dinko Rupčić
Camera assistant: Hrvoje Franjić
Video editing: Iva Kraljević
Costumes: Silvio Vujičić
Architect: Ana Martina Bakić
Additional performer: Ivo Kušek
Architectural visualisation: Antun Sevšek
Draftsmen: Igor Pauška, Slaven Josip Delalle
Production assistant: Valentina Orešić
Modelers: Lidija Živković, Ivana Hribar, Barbara Radelj
Promotional photos: Dinko Rupčić, Ivan Kuharić
Props production: Zagreb Youth Theatre workshop
Coproduced by: BADco., Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia andZagreb Youth Theatre
Supported by: City Office for Culture, Education and Sports – City of Zagreb