Živa Voda Collective / Nika Bauman, Vesna Mačković, Mak Marko Murtić

Artist statement

We have set up a team of close collaborators who normally work together on each other’s projects (Mimika Orchestra, Musical Biennale compositions, Ensemble Illyrica, Synesthetic project etc) as a new team for this setup. The core team consists of composer, musical director, multi-instrumentalist and director Mak Murtić, the director, flutist and performer Nika Bauman and the director, choreographer and performer Vesna Mačković. All of the team members create commentaries on the social and political context of the area where they are from as well as the relation to various types of identities, in case of Vesna Mačković being the aspect of able vs. disabled bodies, and in both Nika Bauman’s and Mak Murtić’s case the projects concern a wider aspect of identities as foreigners and as locals in a poetic immersive sense.

When creating we focus on the connection of all artists as performers and their very concrete involvement in the concept of the narrative of the performance, usually involving the local culture, locality and the unusual settings provided by the local environment (inviting observers who are not necessarily theatre-going people). More recently we have started working with technologies which allow the change of visual projections and allow further audience participation and their choosing of a particular motive that they explore.

Artistic Statement:

In this particular project we would like to expand the idea of identities and the connection of identitites through South Europe and Mediterranean cultural zones with an immersive Opera / Dance / Musical / Projection performance.

The starting point of the idea takes inspiration from the “Work and Happiness” theme. We used the word – Medzotermina which is an archaic Croatian / Adriatic word used by sailors and it addresses the place between two extremes. The word is used as an inspiration for a project dealing with the relationship of the Global North and Global South in the area of South and Mediterranean Europe. The Mediterranean has a deep rooted history of commerce, intercultural relations, conquests and more recently touristification and commodification. In the recent past, perceived cultural divisions brought on the collapse of Yugoslavia and, more recently, tense intercultural relations due to the Migrant crisis. In the aftermath, societies that were once close-knit broke apart and a wall of division was brought on.

This had indeed implications on the European Union and the wider idea of intercultural connection and acceptance. SImilarities to Portugal abound.

In this performance we propose to question South Europe in a broad cultural, political and metaphorical sense of identity and normality, where work and happiness intermingle with new and old identities and new and old ways of living, be it a digital nomadic lifestyle, to mistreated migrant workers, seasonal waiter or a hotel owner in relation to society and other characters represented by the audience. We follow protagonists from various backgrounds and body types as they interact in a new society on an imagined town with its own historic trajectory (independent of the orient/occident division). The story is set in an abstract undefined time, yet it addresses the current state and place where the town represents South Europe itself and its many faces: a temple of a mythical past, a tourist trap, a sanctuary for migrants and off-the-grid communities.

We envision taking the audience on a journey where they themselves choose where and how the piece proceeds in a type of build your own adventure system, be it a hotel ballroom, a stage for the obscure and grotesque realities or a scene of a sinking migrant ship. This could be done in various ways, ideally to have a space with various performance areas where different scenes take place at the same time and the audience or part of the audience decides whether to experience a beautiful image, a real place or a catastrophic situation.

The music and libretto play with the traditional elements yet superimpose them on a contemporary experimental orchestral setting, filled with hidden layers and unusual turns. Unlike in a typical opera, our vocalists act as guides, prophets and sirens, luring the audiences into chosen scenes.
By hinting the fight of dual forces, through the bodies of two performers, one strong and other fragile, one male and other female, one tall and other short, one able-bodied and one disabled, one with local heritage and the other the perceived foreign we fog the audience’s expectations. Hindered by the audience yet at unexpected points of stage time we bring in mesmerizing but also brutal force in the shape of the energy of a mass group of performers in images and movements showing mass euphoria, mass hysteria, mass sexuality. They use unison movement, sound and text.

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