Jura Ruža

© Vida Žagar





Artist statement

I was born in 1999 in Varaždin, Croatia, where I had finished high school and primary musical school (guitar and classical singing). During my high school education I was a member of Youth theater studio at the Croatian National Theater in Varaždin, where I got my first part in a professional play in 2016. In September 2022 I graduated at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, gaining an MA degree in Non-Verbal Theater. At the same institution I had previously finished the BA study of Acting and Puppetry. Also, from February to June 2022, I spent time as an Erasmus exchange student at Faculty of Theater and Film in Cluj-Napoca (Romania), at the MA program of Digital Interactive Arts.

Along with my formal studies, I attended numerous masterclasses based on acting (Michael Chekhov Europe Training, Sanford Meisner technique, Grotowski method, Lecoq…), contemporary dance (Francesco Scavetta, Ferenc Feher) and physical theater (Seppe Baeyens, TROUBLEYN, Hannes Langolf). So far I have experience working in drama plays, puppet shows, children plays and non-verbal performances. I also appeared in the leading role on three feature films since 2018.

Throughout my education and professional experience I have developed special interest in physical theater and authorial approach to performing arts. In 2020 I created my first one-man show, Self-isolation in 40 minutes, as a reflection of the “new normal” life during COVID-19 pandemic. The performance follows an unnamed Character who applies the strict epidemiological measures to every aspect of his life; “how to wash your hands”, “how to change your clothes without touching your skin”, “how to drink coffee without increasing the risk of high blood sugar”, “how to have sexual intercourse in order to dilute the level of caffeine in your organism”… Such rules are slowly raised to the level of absurdity, disordering the Character’s personal space and leading his body to the point of complete exhaustion. The performance was initially made as a final exam in my BA studies and the same year it was enlisted on program of Gllugl, an independent theater in Varaždin.

My second and most recent work, Morphin’, was inspired by TikTok, an online platform where an entertaining content is displayed in the form of short videos mostly showing dance sequences, tutorials, stunts or comedy sketches. Since the war in Ukraine started in 2022, the abundance of random material was accompanied by actual war footages, presidential speeches and reports on the state of warfare. One flick of the user’s thumb separated a battlefield in Kiev from a nightclub in San Francisco, some Ukrainian soldier from Batman, and a motivational speech by some influencer from a political speech delivered by Vladimir Putin. Also, the content representing warfare was often aestheticized, like some videos showing tanks blowing up buildings with the sound of Dubstep in the background. The aim of performance was to embody this random principle of TikTok algorithm, thus generating a sort of digital personality which knows no moral boundaries and makes war, entertainment and everyday content equally relevant. The performance will have an official premiere in January 2023 in Gllugl theater.

In my authorial work I try to approach something that I regard as a social phenomena which affects me and somehow shapes the society I live in. Both projects I’ve mentioned started with a thorough research. All the material which inspired me was found on internet, like TikTok videos of certain categories or YouTube videos of common people demonstrating their own protective measures during quarantine. Using tools from acting, puppetry and contemporary dance, I try to invent different ways to connect the documentary material into a semi-fictional performance.

With every project I am trying to push the boundaries in my artistic expression. As a young artist, I wish to keep going in the same direction, connect with people whose approach is similar, and so expand my knowledge in terms of performing arts. The idea of this international project resonated with my own interests and I see it as a new opportunity to push my boundaries a bit further.

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