I mostly work with interactive performance which is developed in response to the environment where it will be presented. Starting from literature research and field studies I create the first script, which is then finalised in the rehearsals with the performers.
I am always challenging the role of the audience trying to make it a necessity for the performance. This way I want to make it an authentic situation which involves a certain commitment from all participants and is therefore not easily consumable.
My main issue is related to capitalism especially its capacity to corrupt cultural fields by subordinating them to the values of wealth accumulation, which one can see happening with religion, art and education. Timothy Stacey explains in his work how capitalism is the unavoidable outcome of rationality and secularisation. The problem of rational thought is that it is always directed towards the preservation of the one thinking and its only value is security and wealth leading to fragmentation, and capitalism.
To challenge capitalism I am therefore looking for ways to challenge rational thought as the predominant position. The Anthropologist Roy Rappaport explains how in a functional society the ritual is working as an adaptive mechanism to protect it from oppressive structures. In ritual the participants unite with an abstract immaterial meaning through an incomprehensible experience. This overcoming of rational though challenges the order of profane reality which is constructed by it and reveals its temporality. If this process is absent a rigid material structure can take the role of the ultimate as in the case of capitalism.
I am aware that an authentic ritual is not possible in a complex society, but I think art being a global medium has the capacity to be a carrier of this experience. Analysing the ritualistic traditions of various cultures I am looking for its essence, which is then to be translated into an approachable contemporary format.
Working with performance I am always looking for visual artist who are interested in contributing works to the environment of the performance. Performance has the potential to create context for visual art other than capitalism in which it is usually presented. On the other side an artwork can enrich the effect of this context.
My interest in Performance Art arose form its possibility to compete with reality. Growing up in Russia I was always frustrated with the numerous social conventions. I was fascinated by the Happenings of Allan Kaprow and the performances of Futurism and Dada for their intend to challenge rigid structures.
I was interested in creating situations which overcome the daily experience. Looking for authenticity my strategy was: no script, not acting, no rehearsals. The performer was invited to respond to a prepared structure through an expression of her identity. I was not interested in the presence of the audience exploring the formats of workshops and immersive games. The content was related to my interest in the altered state of consciousness achieved though various practices.
With the time I realised that this approach restricts the experience to a certain temporal and spacial interval, which is too much separated from daily life to be able to compete with it. I wanted to blur the borders, which meant that I had to make the performance public, integrate in into the environment and find a role for the audience other than that of a separated observer.
After some tryouts I came to several conclusions: If the performance is too elevated from the ordinary the audience will become more distant; If not elevated enough it might dissolve into the ordinary; This is also the danger if the structure is too loose (a moderator can help); The main difficulty appeared related to the content: An altered state of mind in the performer can not be perceived by the audience. One solution to this was to move from showing it to a discussion about it. But this was not the transcendent reality I was looking for. I could not find help in the practices of fine art extensively analysed by Clair Bishop in Artificial Hells.
Through the books of Richard Schechner I then realised that there was a bigger interest for these topics in theatre. The work of Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook became my big inspiration. I realised that that performance art has a longer history than I was aware of and is rooted in ritual. I stared to explore the use of characters, rehearsal work, scripts, narrative and theatrical presentation focusing on audience participation.
I learned that it can be easier to initiate a interactive situation through a character, that longer performances can be useful to overcome the distance and that a script evolving from the work with the performer can remain the authenticity of improvisation. I began to research ritual in anthropology, religion and theatre studies. Especially through the work of Roy Rappaport and Jeffrey C. Alexander I realised the importance of ritual for solidarity and meaning creation, and the problems of fragmentation related to its disappearance or corruption.
In the Holy Mass I tried to use the ritual as a carrier to transport the transcendent experience. However, I was faced with the problem that historical context which gives the Mass its energy also leads to blocking preoccupations in the audience. In my newest project I am therefore looking for ways to abstract the essence of ritual from its historical context and incorporate it in a carrier which is suitable for the contemporary audience.