Friday, July 17, 2015

2000, JULY - PULA, "I am superior you are inferior"

CROATIA; THE 6TH INTERNATIONAL THEATER FESTIVAL AT PULA (P.U.F.) PUBLIC PERFORMANCE. BLACK AND WHITE This performance piece was a part of the 6th International Theater Festival at Pula (P.U.F.) and was awarded the main prize.


In continuing my involvement in working with Roma (Gypsies) I created a performance piece that would defend their human rights. I lived together with the local Roma for about ten days before the performance in order to win their trust and prepare them for the piece. In Croatia, Roma are considered second-class citizens, and in many cases they are declined Croatian citizenship even if they were born in that country. The Croatian schools teach only the history of white Croatians, disregarding historical participation of other minorities, especially Roma. If Roma children are allowed to attend the school they are subject to a strong assimilation process that has little regard for their cultural specificity. For the performance, I selected one of the main squares in Pula where there was an elementary public school on one side and a local Roma office on the other. I painted the windows of the public school with white washable paint from the outside and black from the inside. Then I placed two 30-gallon glass containers in front of the public school. One contained black permanent paint and the other white permanent paint. Both were attached by ropes going through pulleys hanging on a steel cable that was secured high above the square. Then I made seven long wooden sticks painted white. The performance consisted of three parts. In the first part we attempted to communicate between white Croatians and Roma. Pairs of participants formed by one Roma and one white Croatian played a dominant-position game with an eight-foot stick connecting their mouths. A stick entering each participant's mouth distorts the articulation of language and there is always one person lying horizontally on the ground with the other standing (vertical dominant position). In this way the sticks make a 45-degree angle. When the situation is reversed the geometry of dominance still persists. Communication is always based on the principle of dominance and therefore, the tension between representatives of the two groups grow. The second part represents the conflict I modeled between the two groups, one of white Croatians and the other of Roma. Each of them holds a rope leading to a glass container of their specific color, black or white. With growing tensions of miscommunication, both groups start slowly to step apart from each other. As a result, the huge glass containers with black and white paint are elevated above the square and the accumulated energy of those objects begins to build. When the glass containers can rise no higher, the tired groups simultaneously release the ropes and both containers fall quickly down and violently crash to the ground. The explosion represents the conflict of two groups. Releasing the permanent paint from the containers creates a web of black and white streams of paint going all around the square. The permanent Action-Painting is created as a public display to commemorate ethnic conflict. In the third part I encouraged the two groups to reconcile. The Roma dancers in their traditional costumes start to dance around the paint spill and white Croatians slowly joined them. Later, members of the audience join the dance and the whole performance becomes a public celebration. I began to wash the white paint from the windows of the elementary school to reveal the black paint underneath. In European culture, dirt is represented by black and the clean surface of an object is represented by white. In this performance, I wanted to reveal the reversed meaning of color symbolism. .....Article about this performance

Glass containers with black and white paint before they were pulled by two groups of white Croatians and Roma:

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