20th Century Fog

Through archetypal dance, film and music matrices, the theatre-dance performance by one of the most renowned Slovenian playwrights, theatre directors and writers, Matjaž Zupančič, explores the paradoxes of art in the 20th century. The time of the eruption of new artistic practices and quests for new technologies is at once also the bloodiest period in the history of humankind. Art seen as both a testament of culture and document of barbarism.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Ever since the time of Modernism it is considered valid that a theatre event may originate out of anything – even a telephone book. The 20th century is a sort of telephone book, the only difference being that the majority of numbers ring in vain. Almost nobody replies to those calls anymore. Things are gradually becoming foggy. Yet the spaces in which our curiosity rings in vain are no dead archives. To the contrary; they are vivid images of memories of the future, which constitute the contemporary man.

The 20th century is the time of the eruption of new artistic practices and quests for new technologies; it is at once the bloodiest period in the history of humankind. Paradoxes lie everywhere. What do Eisenstein’s theory of film editing and the terrorist attack at the Twin Towers in New York, which on a symbolic level rounds up the narrative on a certain era, have in common? How much is Battleship Potemkin merely a visionary, artistically plausible and fascinating herald of the “hundred years of bloodshed”, and how much it is also the invention of a new tool that far surpasses merely the practice of art discourses – the manipulative function of editing that can relativize the gaze, its authenticity and objectivity? In other words, does an objective viewpoint exist at all, or is authenticity of experience in fact contaminated even before it is established?

The awareness that there is no (longer) an innocent, “pure” gaze, because this innocence is irretrievably lost (in translation) of the dangerous liaisons between the poetic and aesthetic, real and abstract, engaged and commercial, real and virtual, historic and transcendent – precisely this awareness speaks of the fundamental insecurity of the present-day. At the same time we shouldn’t forget that fear has constituted man. Wherever there was fear, there was also courage. For this reason the basic question does not so much hide in the thesis on the end of history, the real question seems to be whether life can be thought about in a utopian way. Is there courage for that?

If we tune down the problem to the room (theatre) level, and earnestly ask ourselves how it is possible to think theatre today and how to stage it, it becomes evident that, in essence, a theatre performance is first and foremost a utopia. If it cannot posit this, it all becomes quite meaningless. The paradox lies in the fact that theatre cannot be taken seriously unless it is played with. Yet the fact that it is all merely play, in no way reduces fear that in the fog we shall not see the edge of the cliff, and the courage to keep walking despite that can in no way be taken for granted.   
Matjaž Zupančič
 

PRESS

“The author plays with the images of the monumental, set in a chronological sequence, and perfectly executed by the dancers. Each meaning established in the performance is overturned and blurred the same instance that it is recognised by the spectator. 20th Century Fog begins with monumental images of the human figure on a throne, and ends in a logical sequence with images of naked people on the stage, reaching epic proportions in its treatment of the collective body and mind. The choreography of Sinja Ožbolt, dance by EnKnapGroup, and the outstanding video and visual design by Luka Umek, Vadim Fiškin and Miran Mohar, are supported by the light design by Jaka Šimenc and a powerful rhythmic and sound structure created by Vanja Novak, which is reminiscent of the aesthetics of Laibach, but throughout fulfils its goal of production of purpose and meaning.”
/ Radio Slovenia 1, Petra Tanko, 5 December 2014 /

“The spectacular Title 20th Century Fog flirts with the American film industry of the previous century … The production by EN-KNAP is thus a new stage mapping of a hundred years of the 20th Century …  In contrast to the two-dimensional documenting of footage on the film screen or a film documentary, the stage documentary, or better still, the documentary 20th Century Fog, staged with dance and on set, can be watched as a multidimensional and palpable mass of living memories; it is at the same time the image of the past and present. The power of video becomes a picturesque horror story … The direction, video and lighting simulations fuse into a coherent narrative, a comprehensive ‘historic DVD’, which reads like flipping through the pages of a criminal bestseller … A compact stage and artistic illusion…”
/ Daliborka Podboj, Paradaplesa.si, 22 December 2014 /



Premiere: Španski borci, 4 December 2014

 

Touring history:

Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  04/12/14
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  05/12/14
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  16/01/15
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  17/01/15
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  22/02/15
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  27/03/15
50th Maribor Theatre Festival / Borštnikovo srečanje
– Opening performance, Maribor, Slovenia   14/10/15
Anton Podbevšek Teater, Novo Mesto  19/10/15
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  17/11/15
Španski Borci Cultural Center, Ljubljana  03/0316

 

Credits

concept, directed by
Matjaž Zupančič

choreography
Sinja Ožbolt

created and performed by
EnKnapGroup (Luke Thomas Dunne, Ida Hellsten, Bence Mezei, Ana Štefanec, Tamás Tuza)

set design
Vadim Fiškin, Miran Mohar

video
Luka Umek

light design, technical director
Jaka Šimenc

sound design, original music

Vanja Novak

additional music
Nick Cave & PJ Harvey; Miladojka Youneed

costume design
Valter Kobal

assistant to the Costume designer
Katarina Škaper

costumes by
Odera d.n.o.

rehearsal director for EnKnapGroup
Tanja Skok

technical support- video and sound
Omar Ismail

technical support- light
Leon Curk

executive producer
Marjeta Lavrič

assistant to the Executive producer
Karmen Keržar

produced by
EN-KNAP Productions

In collaboration with
Slovenska Kinoteka

with the support of
City of Ljubljana - Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia