Via Negativa is an international platform for research, development and production of contemporary performing arts based in Ljubljana. It was founded in 2002 and operates under the artistic direction of theatre director Bojan Jablanovec. VN is focused in devising and exploring different performing strategies, with an emphasis on ethics and liveness of performance practices, procedures and genres. Since 2013 VN regularly conducts educational program in the form of the VN Laboratory for contemporary performing arts.
VN creative field is reduced to basic stage elements (via negativa) and focused on the relationship between performer and spectator (between what is shown and what is seen) and on the question of the real in this relationship. We deal with this relationship as a complex flow of points of view, expectations, judgments, conclusions, stereotypes, fallacies, prejudices, tolerance or intolerance, and knowledge or lack thereof; all of these trigger various emotional, rational or irrational responses.
We insist on the performing with the standpoint that consciously radicalizes and relativises its own position with self-irony and humor. Our performing strategies are very diverse: devised theater pieces, lecture-performances, dance pieces, video works, radical body practices, gallery projects … We develop our work through the performance cycles: Seven Deadly Sins (2002–2008), Via Nova (2009–2011), Irresolvable (2012-).
The term “via negativa” is derived from negative theology, which attempts to define god by describing what god is not, or rather, what god cannot be. The concept, conceived in late fifth century AD, was based on the presumption that the divine is unattainable to the human experience and understanding. This term was introduced to theatre practice by Polish director and theater innovator Jerzy Grotowski. He used it to describe a method in which the actor works primarily toward discovering and overcoming the obstacles that prevent him from attaining his psychophysical perfection. However, neither theological questions nor acting techniques are the focus of our interest. In our work “via negativa” means to reduce the performance to basic elements in order to sharpen our relationship with the viewer and understand what is (or is not) the essence of this relationship.
Until 2016 we devised 50 projects, 15 collective presentations and numerous workshops. VN projects have been presented in 24 European countries and the USA. These projects involved more than 90 performers from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Iceland, Romania and Hungary.
We have cooperated with: Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana • B-51 Cultural Society Ljubljana • Glej Theatre Ljubljana • Secondary School Dorm Tabor Ljubljana • Cultural Centre Novi Sad • EkS-scena Zagreb • Bunker Ljubljana • Zalet Zadar • ZadarSnova Festival Zadar • Eurokaz Festival Zagreb • Kampnagel Hamburg • Croatian National Theatre Opera Zagreb • Balkan Irish Arts Forum Dublin • &TD Teatre Zagreb • Perforations Festival Zagreb • En Knap Group Ljubljana • City Museum Ljubljana • City of Women Festival Ljubljana • Museum of Contemporary Art MSUM Zagreb • Forum Freies Teater Düsseldorf • Kunsthalle Düsseldorf • Mavena Split • Multimedia Cultural Centre Split • Development of New Art Prague • Maska Ljubljana • Contemporary Dance Association of Slovenia • Slovene National Theatre Drama Ljubljana • Moment Cultural Society Maribor • Zavod Sploh Ljubljana • Art Stations Foundation Poznan • tanzhaus nrw Dusseldorf • Ljubljana Puppet Theatre • Cultural Centre Bios Athens • Vasistas Athens • Cankarjev dom Ljubljana • Oblivia Helsinki • Thealter Szeged • Desire Subotica • TESZT Timisoara • Kitch Ljubljana • Ja Ja Ja Ne Ne Ne Warsaw • A Part Festival Katowice • Body Mind Festival Warsaw
We’ve organized workshops in Belgium (POPOK – Posthogeschool Voor Podiumkunsten Antwerp, 2003) • Serbia (Cultural Centre Novi Sad, 2004; Cultural Centre REX Belgrade, 2007) • Austria (KE Theatre Klagenfurt, 2004) • Croatia (EkS-scena Zagreb, 2005; Zalet Zadar, 2007; &TD Theatre Zagreb, 2008) • Ireland (Balkan Irish Arts Forum Dublin, 2008) • Czech Republic (Development of New Art Prague, 2010) • Scotland (New Territories Glasgow, 2011) • Finland (Performance Center Helsinki, 2012) • Greece (Onassis Center Athens, 2013) • Romania (TESZT Festival Timisoara, 2015) • Latvia (Dirty Deal Teatro Riga, 2015) • Slovenia (Secondary School Dorm Tabor Ljubljana, SMG Ljubljana, Glej Theatre Ljubljana, II. Gymnasium Maribor).
NO ONE SHULD HAVE SEEN THIS
The theatre of Via Negativa 2002 – 2012
Published by Maska, Ljubljana 2012
English language only
Documentation of 29 performances, which were created in the period 2002 – 2011. It contains 171 photographs with concise concepts and quotes from performances accompanied by Blaž Lukan’s essay Erasing the Audience, which systematically analyzes the development of VN performing strategies. The book also contains the full text of performance by Katarina Stegnar and Bojana Kunst after which it takes its name, and the conversation with the group conducted by Marin Blažević.
Via Negativa 2002 – 2008
Published by Maska, Ljubljana 2010
Slovene language only
The No brings an extensive reflection on one of the most interesting performing arts projects in the last decade, Via Negativa. The project that opened many questions of contemporary performing arts and, in a radical way, introduced into the theatre elements of performance art and body art received great affirmation in Slovenia and abroad. Essays and studies by Blaž Lukan, Florian Malzacher, Nataša Goverdić, Una Bauer, Annalisa Sacchi, Bojana Kunst.