Artists and cultural workers in Slovenia survived a turbulent, insecure, sleepless, and exhausting year and members of the artistic team of CoFestival joined activist cultural comrades-in-arms in the fight for the assurance of basic conditions for artistic and cultural work. On proletariat days and nights.
Since the conclusion of the CoFestival 2017, the team members together with numerous comrades-in-arms filled in 851 pages of different funding applications to generate resources for our work and programmes, helped to write petitions against xenophobic attacks on co-workers and friends that live and work in Slovenia and are not residents of our country, and public letters in the name of the wider artistic community. We participated in countless activist meetings and discussions at national and local institutions, exposed ourselves in the media and together with colleagues from Asociacija – association of NGOs and self-employed individuals in the field of culture – fought with the political elites and the administration of the Republic of Slovenia to prevent the destruction of local culture and art landscape with headlong legislation. When also public cultural institutions and amateur cultural actors joined in, we fought even stronger for them as well. We took the trouble to try to assign the real value to the currency of passion with which the local political public would like to evaluate our work. Artistic and cultural work needs space, time, fair payment and social rights! In May 2018 we gathered at the Republic Square right before the parliamentary elections to publicly protest against the malignant politics of hatred that took roots in the Slovenian social fabric due to the diabolical policies and soon after, together with colleagues from Asociacija, demanded from the political parties to clearly present their standpoints on art and culture to us.
Right before this year’s edition of CoFestival we feel as if we just returned from the front-line, where the fight is still ongoing, and we are extremely proud on our cultural comrades, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances that are not prepared to sacrifice their wide spectrum of forms of life just to be able to survive, among those also the ones working in areas of science, art, education, and culture. We feel that we managed to wake up and regenerate the local (cultural) public sphere with the emergence of a warm climate that was missing in the local artistic and cultural ecosystem for several years.
This year’s programme of CoFestival would make European Constructivists very proud, as several aspects are related to the artistic tendencies of this movement. The treatment of choreographic, architectural, production, organisational, technological, bodily, and, with the latter, also existential materialities is repositioned from the level of composition to the level of (interdisciplinary) artistic construction in almost all works of this year’s CoFestival. In them, the work of art includes besides the final product also its procedural and material properties and specialities but even – since we are dealing with dance or choreographic works – a certain determination through the physical properties that are opening political and social implications in the dancing bodies.
This year’s CoFestival will open with an excellent quartet Opus by Greek choreographer Christos Papadopoulos that offers both intellectual as well as a purely aesthetic pleasure to the spectator. We are delighted we will be able to present two evenings with seven early works by American choreographer Lucinda Childs to the local public at the same time when MOMA NY is presenting a retrospective exhibition of the legendary collective Judson Dance Theatre, where this choreographer had begun her dance career. Procedurality and choreographic constructivism that begun to develop within this collective in the 1960s had transformed in the past two decades into a peculiar dance engineering of BADco. collective, based in Zagreb, that are in special focus this year, we will be able to see their works both in Zagreb and in Ljubljana. Serbian dancer and choreographer Marko Milić will visit us for the first time after 2011 with poetic choreographic cartoon Lumi that deals with the phenomena of online dating and in tandem with Ana Dubljević and Darja Janošević also with performance Choreoerotikon in which dancers deal with the constructs of erotic dance bodies in popular culture and dance forms of antiquity. Renowned Lebanese set designer and visual artist Rabih Mroué, already well known among Ljubljana public, will choreographically analyse the tactical body in wartime together with the international group DANCE ON ENSEMBLE in performance Elephant, while excellent German choreographer and visual artist Anna Konjetzky will confront the vulnerable human body with dynamic spatial situations in performance Chipping that reminiscence of constructions in theatrical-choreographic experiments by German Bauhaus avant-garde. German dancer, choreographer, and pedagogue Gisella Müller is structuring the process of construction of choreographic object at the juncture of sound and choreographic space in collaboration with sound and radio artists Andi and Hannes Teichmann in performance Me Again, But Not Alone, and Portuguese choreographer and dancer Rui Horta is dealing with rationality and irrationality in the artistic credo in his solo work Wasp. Local creators will present two premières: Mala Kline deals with love impetus of human actions in dance performance Song and Dejan Srhoj presents the process of technological development of a robot that he had participated in as a choreographer in Sweden through his mechatronic choreography Nao, the Robot. We will conclude CoFestival with two programme constants: collaboration with Mladinsko Theatre and with themes that are related to the common Yugoslav and shared post-Yugoslav history. Serbian artists Ana Vujanović and Marta Popivoda, who both live and work in Berlin in recent years, created the performance National Reconciliation: Freedom Landscapes in which they employ choreographic elements to reveal aspects of female antifascist movement during WWII in the area of former Yugoslavia.
“For the movement to emerge, we first have to understand what means to really hit the ground and then create the resistance,” could be uttered by a dance pedagogue of constructivist provenance at one of her morning dance classes. “We have to build forms of social solidarity that are able to re-activate the social body after a long period of isolations and submissions to the competitive aggression. On the contrary to aggression, solidarity is based on empathy, on the physical perception of the presence of the other,” explains Italian philosopher and activist Franco “Bifo” Berardi. Perhaps the local cultural and artistic community in 2018 had to take exactly these lessons. CoFestival is definitely the place where we can continue with their development.