"Each second that drifts between us has to be a pure second.”
Visual performance by Jaka Lah
Pure Performance questions the form as a basic tool of artistic expression – Jaka puts himself and the viewer into the position ob being trapped in form: “I wish that we are clear from the beginning. I don’t care where you come from. I don’t care if you wipe your ass with paper or if you don’t clean up after yourself at all. It doesn’t matter if we like each other, what matters is that there’s no shit between us. This is a pure performance. Each second that drifts between us has to be a pure second.”
We find ourselves in an absurd situation of silence and indefinite exact laying down of toilet paper into round plane on the ground. But because no thought exists until it is expressed through a form, no thought exists in its pure form, and it can swiftly turn into its own opposition – or in the performance discourse – into plain shit. The way in which Jaka is trying to catch hold of this short circuit between the thought, the uttered and the understood, is a negation.
Conceived by Jaka Lah and Bojan Jablanovec
Performer: Jaka Lah
Text and direction: Bojan Jablanovec
Music: Johann Strauss, An der schönen blauen Donau
Producer: Špela Trošt
Production: Via Negativa, 2009, with the support by Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia and the City of Ljubljana
Premiere: 3 October 2009, The Old Power Station Ljubljana
Duration: 60 min
Performance for Our Time
Geographies of contemporary performing arts VII. Dialogi, January 2010, Tomaž Toporišič
Once again Via nova is interested not so much in the body as a signifier than in the concrete body of the actor. That is why it excessively accentuates the process and performativity, negating the notion of a fixed work of art, thereby consciously joining the chain of performative accents, what Fisher-Lichte calls the ‘aesthetics of the performative’, and Gržinić the “re-articulation of the history of performing arts”. Except in this case the accents are different, more explicitly linked to the consequences of the fact that a complete withdrawal from representation is an impossibility in the same way that, for example, the Schechnerian or actionist vision is impossible, or rather is naive in thinking that the performative autopoetic feedback loop can lead to an overcoming of the logic of the textual culture and its referential function.
Through the form of the performance and such similar hybrid performance practices, Jaka Lah is constantly testing Peggy Phelan’s thesis about the special ontological status of the theatre act or, as she puts it, the performance as ‘representation without reproduction’ (Unmarked: The Politics of Performance) – about the here and now as the only life of the performance. This process leads Lah to transgress the boundaries between various artistic genres, between art and life. By establishing dialogue with the traces of the performative turn of the 1960s, he hopes to legitimate theatre as a performance art par excellence.
In its fundamental iconography Lah’s performance catapults itself from the realm of the theatre to the realm of the visual, intentionally exploiting the connections between different media in what seems to be a return to the (utopian?) experiments from the beginning of the 20th century, especially happenings and Fluxus, with their striving to combine traditionally separated arts, or rather, in the words of Allan Kaprow, with their attempts to blur Art and Life (Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life).
In this way it articulates anew some of the key postulates of the so-called American theatre avantgarde, the neo-avantgarde performance and visual arts in general (for example of Marina Abramović, Vienna Actionists, etc.), described by Bonnie Marranca in her theory of the theatre of images as an ‘interdisciplinary approach that could encompass theatre, music, dance, painting, photography, video, sculpture and architecture’ , and which has led to ‘a convergence of the theatre and visual arts in a new understanding of the performance, demonstrating why these two narratives must link up into a comprehensive view of the twentieth century, if there is to be any kind of a coherent history of thinking about performance.’ (The Theatre of Images)