Starting this year, Eurokaz will not be just a festival anymore. Even when it was, it wanted to be more – an active festival, a festival with an attitude, a festival as an author`s work. Eurokaz never wanted to accept what European theatre conjecture has raised above the commercial horizon as its decorative example. It was interested in a different horizon and rejected the conjecture that led to the uniformity of European trends and festivals. Eurokaz is concerned with caesura and bending of that horizon of difference that very often, but years later, gave life to the commercialised center.
In 2006, Eurokaz started producing and co-producing with Croatian and foreign partners, organising workshops and co-operating with the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art. In 2003, the festival launched its own book publishing, and in 2008 a year-long series of events on the festival premises in Dežmanov prolaz 3 (Eurokaz Saloon – a well-established series of discussions about theatrical and cultural topics; Eurokaz pogon (Eurokaz Plant) – workshops and rehearsals, screenings, lectures).
And then, in 2010, Eurokaz started collaborating with the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb (MSU). It accepted Eurokaz as an artistic partner, so we started co-ordinating activities that centre around the technically well equipped multimedia theatre Gorgona. The festival expanded and became a continuous project –a festival and a repertory theatre at the same time. Activities began in January, soon after the grand opening of the new museum building. MSU has thus become a logical, natural place of co-operation between all the artistically relevant and socially responsible factors in the city that are trying to make Zagreb one of Europan and world art centers, responsive to trends of today and opportunities of tomorrow.
While in Croatia Eurokaz was the only source of information on trends and important phenomena in European and world theatre during the eighties and early nineties, lately we have witnessed an inflation of festivals, most of which are simply presentational. Many of them have encroached on Eurokaz`s programme features or imitated its organisational model. Our scene has become saturated with information, while very little or no attention is given to contemporary implementation strategies.
Eurokaz has therefore decided to influence the Croatian theatre scene more directly: in collaboration with MSU, it will embolden it and make it artistically responsible – it will become a festival of uncalculated paths. Eurokaz will support innovation in the performing arts within its own projects, co-productions, first-rate guest performances and by thematically connecting its programme with Museum's exhibitions. It will also encourage uncompromising young Croatian theatre artists, who are uneasily conforming to mediocre Croatian standards.
Four Eurokaz productions have been performed in Gorgona so far, on a monthly basis. Two of them had already been performed before and had received Europe-wide acclaim (Branko Brezovec`s Galileo Bound in Florence; Barbara Matijevi? and Giuseppe Chico`s Tracks in Kaaitheater, Brussels and Centre Pompidou, Paris), while the other two (Anja Maksi? Japundži?`s Njarabum and Saša Boži?`s Church) were created during the festival production process and rehearsals in the Gorgona theatre. It is worth mentioning that Njarabum has been included in the international project Focus on Art and Science in the Performing Arts, which brings together artists and co-production partners from five European countries and is financed by the EU`s Culture Programme 2007-2013.
In order to connect with exhibitions at MSU more intensively and meaningfully, we invited Belgian multimedia artist Brice Leroux to be our guest in February. His dance and light installation supplemented lumino-kinetic constructions by the Croatian visual artist Aleksandar Srnec. In the guest performances programme, the drama ensemble of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc Rijeka performed a play by François-Michel Pesenti, a director first introduced to the Croatian audience 20 years ago at Eurokaz. He has since then become a regular guest of Croatian and Slovenian theatres.
After years of dispersion among various theatre venues in Zagreb, the festival has found a permanent home in MSU`s Gorgona multimedia theatre, and its duration has expanded to the entire month of June. The one-month festival format is the culmination of its activities at MSU. It will start with a showcase of Eurokaz co-productions, and continue with top-quality guest performances from Japan, Canada, Italy, Slovenia, the Netherlands/Belgium and France. This year`s selection could be summed up with the term collaboration. It is our wish to promote the new venue to the maximum. In accordance with this, with collaboration and joint activities of these two institutions, this year`s festival selection will be less strict and have an emphasized visual and musical dimension.
Theatre has collaborated with other spheres since its beginnings. Some consider it merely a sum of various skills, media and art disciplines. They base their co-operation on equality, as well as supremacy and subordination. Contemporary theatre seems to rely on multimedia, it lives on osmosis and sees the point of collaboration in perceptive expansion, the Wilsonian cubism, the view from near and far, a diagonal, a parallel view. However, the collaboration implicit in performances at this year`s Eurokaz as the underlying festival theme, moves towards perceptive narrowness. We abandon the schizo-analytical whole, the quietism, instead opting for the individual, for the ethics of co-operation, for gift-giving. This is some new form of collaboration, an indication of a different artistic contemporariness.
French director Frédéric Fisbach comes with a performance in which a metaphorical whole really starts to apply to a particular individual – he starts to co-operate with it on a particular level. In Fisbach`s marionette mechanism, man is not a manipulator, but the manipulated, he gives no orders, but receives them. Canadiens Benôit Lachambre and Louise Lecavalier play with the interaction of spatial dimensions: enjoying their own emergence and disappearance, they give their bodies to the drawing. In the performance of Eurokaz`s own nestor Aurélien Bory, the collaboration between man and robot is explicit. Man becomes robot (just like he becomes a marionette in Fisbach`s play), and robot humanises itself (becomes an artistic subject). In MaisonDahlBonnema & Needcompany`s co-production, two human beings, Ricky and Ronny, refuse to co-operate with the world around them. They focus on themselves, sing and create their collaborating doubles.
Slovenian collective Via Negativa will present an anthology of all its performances, and offer it to MSU – a collaboration for permanence. Performance art by its definition collaborates with death rather than museums, and strives for their abolition. This ironical offer for collaboration reduces immediate performance activism to the vanity of artistic immunity. Italian collective Santasangre is fascinated by technology. The audience recognises this fascination as a manipulation, something Deleuze-Guattari would describe as a replacement for “decoding in an absolute way“ (like Fisbach`s marionette man, or Bory`s robot, or Dahl`s singer, or Brezovec`s Galileo/Prometheus). There is no whole, no individual – there is the co-operation of the viewer`s manipulated perception and indifferent technology, and it helps us live.
Artistic Director of Eurokaz