What was the performance »Exercises in Dying«?
– A tentative of freeing from the known through the washing away of the old (unacknowledged feelings, unprocessed experiences, accustomed approaches and techniques) that had anchored and limited me. The aim was to create the circumstances that stimulate the bringing forth of the New.
– A research about the limbic state of consciousness and its manifestation in physical, vocal and thought actions (performative actions determined by clear intentions) and their development during a lengthy performance.
What happened during the performance?
– THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN VOICE AND MOVEMENTS
Contrary to the performative modus operandi I am familiar to (Inter-esse, where a meditative state of mind is transferred into movements, which affect the breathing and stimulate spontaneous vocalizations; the thinking body operates in unison), I decided to try a new approach and do what I don’t know how to do. After all this was the purpose of the research.
I chose to base my actions on the Watching exercise of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in which the performer minimizes the sounds of breathing and the noise of movements during a harsh physical workout. This approach differs profoundly from the previously described Inter-esse technique that uses breathing and vocalizations as energy supplies and stimuli for movements. As a consequence, the first hour of each of the four cycles, which was devoted to physical actions, was executed with an attention for sound reduction. The experiment didn’t work as the artificially imposed separation between the movements and the sounds of the body didn’t prepare and hit up my voice properly.
The voice is at the moment my weakest medium of expression and needs special care in order to operate well as I haven’t been cultivating it until very recently. I am training my body daily since April 2015 and I’ve achieved fabulous results in a short time thanks to a regular practice of Grotowski’s Physical Training. I introduced a regular voicework in my training schedule only in December 2016 and have already achieved the first notable improvements. In the last vocal training before the performance I easily reached the state in which my voice resonated fully and achieved a vibration that was able to touch things. My training warm-up consisted of a 20 min singing session while running in a Watching-like manner (the arms are dropped and the steps are light) in a hall that was twice as big as the performance space.
– SKELETONS FROM THE CLOSET TOOK OVER
My skeletons from the closet (past selfs with nasty baggage) have appeared during the performance and took control over myself, which was exactly what my aims were. My intention was to offer them a space for expression after which I will be able to transform the ghosts, who were once hunting me, into creative companions, which I am able to embody consciously and structure on will. In the next weeks and months I will find out if this was actually achieved.
There was a phase in the performance in which I was clearly aware of being carried into a territory of fears, lamenting and impotence, which I had used to inhabit in teenage periods of despair and depression. This acknowledging was followed by a state of detachment as I got annoyed by the sameness and powerlessness of what was going on. I clearly remember my thoughts and how it felt: “Is that everything myself contains, the same, old terrain of tears, lamenting and smallness? Get over this dumbness…”
– PHYSICAL ACTIONS ON THE BORDER OF THE KNOWN
On one hand I researched slow movements that emanate sensefulness and presence and on the other, the deconstruction of the known through a conscious embodiment of counter-impulses. For example, if I felt the impulse to turn my chest on the right, I turned it on the left or up/down. This approach is similar to Etienne Decroux’s “Contradictions” in the technique of Corporeal mime.
The deconstruction was more present in the first two cycles as later I suffered a decrease in energy and focus that prevented me to carry on the research with the same level of quality, at least in my perception.
– THE LABOR WITH THE GLASS TUBES
In the first round I was extremely slow in the handling of the tubes and I managed to put ash in a third of them only. I hadn’t been familiar with glass test tubes before and had first to learn, how to move them with precision without the risk of cracking or breaking them. In the third or second round I felt confident enough to decide to complicate my tube managing task. I began to perform the work with a focused intention. Only in this way my per se uninteresting activity could gain presence and become interesting.
I applied an extra-daily state of awareness to my actions and my filling of the tubes with ash and earth was transformed into a job of vital importance. I imagined that every filled test tube became a magic bullet that would restore the health to one or more people with the diagnose of multiple sclerosis. In this way I gained a concrete and valid reason to perform my tube-filling task fast and well. It was a success!
– ENERGY ARCH IN LENGTHY PERFORMANCE
My expectancy was that the levels of presence and limbic “possession” would continue to rise with time. I was wrong and the best parts of the performance with the major moments of enchantment were achieved in the first two cycles of the performance. The flow of energy was following a decrescendo rhythm that I later connected with my voluntary segmentation of breathing, vocalization and movements, which prevented me to go deeper in the limbic state of embodiment and ecstatic trance consciousness (see Felicitas D. Goodman & Nana Nauwald: Ecstatic Trance. New Ritual Body Postures, 2003).
I am still tempted to sustain the idea that a crescendo of energy is achievable with a genuine Inter-esse performance where the whole body functions in unison, but the hypothesis needs to be put on test. However, moments of “second wind” manifested also in the last two parts of the performance, but the general level of the actions suffered a decrease in quality.
– THERE IS NO PRIVATENESS IN THE COMMON
A few witnesses of the performance ‘Exercises in dying’ commented their experience as being very unusual to the performative events they normally attend. They felt as they were witnessing something very authentic and intimate, something private which they shouldn’t have been given access to. This sensation was increased by the fact that the performer (myself) seldomly turned attention to the people present.
I was consciously giving minimum attention to the spectators in order to maintain maximum focus on what was happening inside and in-between me as the endurance and research format of the performance required some safety, energy-saving precautions. However, I immediately noticed the arrival of a cat in the space and started a vocal interaction with it. The animal was catwalking on the borders of the pool in which the performance was taking place. I was hoping it would join me inside the earth-covered area, but the cat stopped on the last two stairs.
For sure I wasn’t giving attention to the visitors seating or standing backward in semi-darkness, but I clearly acknowledged and recognized (in case I knew them from before) the visitors, who were placed in the vicinity of the pool. My attention was a little more oriented to the spectators at the begging of each of the four cycles when I repeatedly announced an invocation that had the following structure: “Remember human that (… sth sth) and (… a subtle contradiction to the just affirmed).”
There was one moment in the performance in which I directly addressed the spectators. It was during my only urination in 12 hrs, when I said “Saj te vidim… Jaz tudi!” (I am seeing you… So do I!). I could clearly feel the disturbance my words generated in the present witnesses. The phrase contained a clairvoyance. Even without directly addressing or facing the Other, you cannot avoid “seeing it”, meaning that you are inevitably affected by its presence.
My work in general (as it is based on the Inter-esse performative approach) and the project ‘MRI MS’ in particular, in even more complex and evident terms, are conducted around the issues of property and common space. In fact, my art praxis suggests that neither intimacy nor individual development can exist alone. They occur within a certain defined spacio-social context (geographic, social, politic, economic, linguistic, archetypic, etc.) and are therefore never private.
What have I learned from the experience?
– DON’T SEGMENT VOCALIZATION AND BREATHING FROM PHYSICAL ACTIONS as it brings a decrescendo rhythm and doesn’t prepare the voice for singing.
– ADOPERATE THOUGHT-ACTIONS in your performance, always! The clearer they are, the better.
– MY GUT LANGUAGE IS ITALIAN. Therefore work with Italian vocal actions first and then move to native Slovene and English.
– WHAT COUNTS MOST IS A CERTAIN LEVEL OF QUALITY: the quality of “persuasion” (see Carlo Michelstaedter: Persuasion and Rhetoric, 1910). Once there, it doesn’t really matter what you do as everything is valuable and valid. You can direct this state of being or energy into art, performance, writing, talking, research or anything else. The form can take different shapes, but what really counts – the invisible, subtle matter or the quality – remains the same, no coming no going.
This evaluation is an example of self-reflection.
Photo: Hana Jošić
Production: Rampa / Kersnikova
On Ash Wednesday, 1st of March 2017 from 12 to 24 o’clock, you are invited to the performative event Exercises in dying at Klub K4 at Kersnikova 4 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. You can follow the Facebook page “Exercises in dying”, where the video of the performance will be broadcast live and also available for commenting.
In the interim stage of the project ‘MRI MS’, the artist Jatun Risba will perform a long Inter-esse performance, in which she will walk through the physical, aural and psychological stages of herself in order to deconstruct and liberate the self. The Inter-esse (from Latin interesse: ’to be or lie in-between’, also ‘to go beyond the self’) performative practice explores liminal forms of the thinking body – movement, gesture, voice, breath, and contact – in the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, at the level of the limbic system.The limbic system is the phylogenetically older, mammalian part of the brains that takes care of motivation, memory, emotions and willingness to study.
The twelve-hour performance of Jatun Risba is a challenge of physical & mental endurance and a trans-individual experiment in movement, emotions, and interaction, which manifest in the process of psychological dying. The aim of this action is to forget the known from the past – cognitive and behavioral conditioning, fear and sadness – for a new, fresh start.
Project is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Municipality of Ljubljana and Student Organization of the University of Ljubljana.
An excerpt of the pilot version of the performance No Coming No Going (Ni prihajanja in odhajanja) by Jatun Risba that occurred at Modri Kot (Tovarna Rog, Ljubljana, Slovenia) on the 1st of November 2016. The performance was part of the event Luknja v novcu (“A Hole in the Coin”) that was dedicated to Aleš Kermauner (a fabulous Slovene poet who committed suicide at 19 in the ’60s) and to all other people who killed themselves. The aim of this event was to create a meaningful, magic evening that would add enough sense, beauty and value to our existence to chase away any thoughts, or attempts of suicide, forever.
The body & eye movements and the use of finger/nail extensions are inspired by Balinese traditional dances. The chant functions as a choral mourning song that wants to shed away the pain and the tears of those who suffered from suicide (Slovenia has a peculiarly high suicide rate).
Further developments and executions of the performance will be scheduled in 2017.
On the 6th of January 2017 Jatun Risba performed “Vračanje” (Return), an art intervention that took place in front of the Ljubljana Cathedral in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The performance embodies the return of “the outlaw”: the selves, who the society and the culture we live in refuse to acknowledge and validate. What looks like a Via Crucis, turns out to be a flight of an Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a combat drone. The tied double, represented by the mannequin head, questions how our planet would be like if humans suddenly disappeared. By openly exposing vulnerability in public places, the author aspires to generate a wormhole that embraces the left out, for an alchemical process of healing.
It started with an invitation of the 3 Slovene artists Janez Janša, Janez Janša and Janez Janša to participate in the their art project TRUST in which randomly chosen members of the audience exchanged their valid personalized Bank Cards/Artworks among themselves for a week. I ended up in pair with Zdenka Badovinac, the Director of the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana, and used this fabulous ready-made occasion to create a new art project: TRUST ART 6-10-2015 made of:
- A performance about Establishing Trust through eye contact among me and Zdenka Badovinac
- A graphic détournement of the front page of the Slovene Newspaper Delo from the 6th of October 2015 (the date in which me and Zdenka returned to each other their Bank Card)
- A self-inquiry writing about my Experience of the whole process (in Slovene)
The video of the Janez Janšas’ signing performance on my TRUST Bank Card:
A photo of the artists (Janez Janša, Janez Janša, Janez Janša), Zdenka Badovinac and me in the Aksioma Project Space in Ljubljana.
Posnetek solo zaključka Inter-esse performansa na NEXTivalu. Po 3,5 ur neprekinjenega Inter-esse gibanja ni bilo nobenega sledu o utrujenosti. Zakaj? Več o tem tukaj.
Video in fotografije kolektivnega Inter-esse performansa bodo še objavljeni … Hvala vsem, ki ste sodelovali! Bilo je fino, zabavno in družabno. ;)
Know thyself was an art intervention held on the 21st of May 2016 in the EU Parliament building in Strasbourg. Read the PR of the performative action here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Art intervention Know thyself occurs in EU Parliament on World Diversity Day
STRASBOURG, FR, – May 21, 2016 – In the Hemicycle of the EU Parliament, during the Closing Plenary Session of the European Youth Event 2016, Artist of Self Jatun Risba carried out the art intervention Know thyself claiming the necessity for a more embracing, supportive and compassionate society founded on the awareness of the Interconnectedness of All Life.
Those present in the Hemicycle were exposed to an intervention of the Movement & Vocalization Awareness Practice called INTER-ESSE (Latin for “to be in-between”): a self-cultivating activity that fosters well-being and creativity while promoting social integration and empathy. By revealing the liminal expressions of the thinking body − movement, gesture, voice and contact in the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, at the level of the limbic system − the art intervention in the EU Parliament aimed to destigmatise social constructions of awkwardness and the “fear of Otherness” that indeed, Risba states, – : “[…] arises from the fear of the other within ourselves and from the fear of nothingness of individual self.” The performative action was held on the 21st of May – World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development – for a reason; its message being that a genuine dialogue with others can emerge only after we dare to acknowledge and listen to our selfless embodied consciousness without fear. It is the fear that ultimately creates violence and oppression.
KNOW THYSELF MANIFESTS THE DESIRE OF EUROPEAN YOUTH TO LIVE A FREE, INFORMED, HEALTHY, ACTIVE AND RESPECTFUL LIFE, WHILE RECOGNIZING THE CRUCIAL NEED OF BEING PART OF A SANE SOCIETY IN ORDER TO FULLY ACHIEVE IT. This is why Know thyself supports the claims of the March against Monsanto for the boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and all harmful agro-chemicals AS THERE IS NO CURE IF NOT WITHIN THE SOCIETY ITSELF.
Inter-esse practice researches the conditions:
- In-between consciousness and non-consciousness: Spontaneous rhythmic breathing & repetitive movements bring a state of full awareness in motion.
- In-between human subjects: The main focus is the synchronization of people through movements and breath.
- In-between life and death: Inter-esse is a meditation on death in motion intended as a key to better living. It makes disciples aware of the constructed and hence illusory nature of personal identity. Through the shedding of individual self, Inter-esse promotes metacognitive awareness which arises from a holistic experience of humanness.
The Inter-esse performance can be seen as the dance of the “homo sacer“, as it encompasses both the sense of the “hallowed” (the Inter-esse practitioner is someone who operates outside the fiction of autobiographical self and their social status) and that of “cursed” (the boundaryless self has been expelled from (post-) industrial societies through the modern concepts of insanity as mental illness and of health and self as personal properties).
About Artist of Self Jatun Risba
Jatun Risba is the pioneer of transformative art practices named Arts of Self, a body-mind researcher and performer. Arts of Self is a metaartistic proposal that promotes the use of self-cultivating technologies (“arts of self”), which disclosure and enforce human innate capacities in order to produce personal and collective self-empowerment. The website of the Arts of Self’s initiative can be found at www.artsofself.com.
Telephone: +386-51-776-933 (Jatun Risba)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
 A group of interconnected structures of the brain including the hypothalamus, amydala, and hippocampus that are common to all mammals, and are associated with emotions such as fear and pleasure, memory, motivation, as well as with the release of endorphins , body’s natural opiates, and various autonomic functions.
 Homo sacer (Latin for “the sacred man” or “the accursed man”) is a figure of Roman law: a person who is banned and may be killed by anybody, but may not be sacrificed in a religious ritual. More on the subject can be found in Giorgio Agamben, “Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life” (1998)