SVETLANA KARADIMOVA portfolio
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Personal Statement | 4 Below The Salt| 5-16 Jp.Co.De | 17-28 (he) ART play | 29-36 Mirror Series | 37-42 Dressing the Audience | 43-48
PERSONAL STATEMENT As a dramaturg, I am interested in exploring different approaches to work and the dynamics between process and content in performance. Thus, in my practice I focus on the narrative and meaning-making capacities of different media in a variety of contexts, such as site-specific, immersive and interactive performance, multi-media and inter-disciplinary work, and interactive installations. Some of the themes I am currenty exploting are the dramaturgy of bodies, the performativity of design and objects and the role of the senses in dramaturgy. My approach to dramaturgy is governed by a spirit of devising and experimentationâ€“ I see it as a process in which nothing is known in advance and meaning emerges through exploring the limits and possibilities of each medium and the relationships between them and the audience, a process in which different elements come together and transform each other, bringing forward something new, something rich and complex. â€œDramaturgy is first of all handling complexity.â€? Marianne Van Kerkhoven
BELOW THE SALT
is an immersive site-specific performance, devised in response to a
the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall. The dramaturgy evolved out of exploring the history and the current condition of the space, its shapes and architecture, and the personal responses of the performers during devising. The space as a living character was as important to the process as its being an environment in which a society of strange creatures has evolved.
BELOW THE SALT is a commentary on the division of society and the politics of accessibility, seen through the prism of a a fairy-tale world. Creatures have emerged from the walls and formed their own society. Anyone who wishes to enter, needs to go through a series of tests and obtain an approval. Can you really trust your eyes?
the SPACE: LIVING CHARACTER VS. ENVIRONMENT
Working site-responsively meant that the space was the initial and main stimulus for devising. The space had its own life and logic which informed and directed the narrative. I worked on a series of writing exercises (right) and projection experiments to explore the space as a living creature, its stories and secrets.
Photo right:Lisa Marker
The light! (whispering) Listen... Listen..…Listen...… Darkness always asks for silence and beauty is heavy, for you must see. Sit down. Why are you so suspicious? Smile, open your arms and smile. Try at least. Yes, no one understands. Try at least. (pause) Eyes open. Eyes close. Eyes open. You are deaf. Come closer. Please come. Please! Touch, touch again. Read. Taste the pain? I’m shedding it. I’m spitting it. But no water in my mouth, no water in my veins. Only rust. I try though! Silence! Hear it traveling. There is life... Not here. (pause) You hear that? Fear, it rots you. Every little hair upon you, every feeling, every thought. Every colour, and the light. A lit candle in the sea. That’s what you must be. But I am no sea, and you are no candle. Don’t be scared, don’t hide. Just sit. Why are you here? It’s safe isn’t it? Your colour is bothering me. You smell of iridescent blue. The odor of sadness. “Sadness, the desire to change yourself.” No matter how much you pray the eye is leading, the tap is dry, the dirty porcelain is cold. Honesty hurts. It opens stitches. It makes the lungs breath. You’re body is written on. Mine is too. Your colour tells on you. It changes. Sometimes, it glows, like water does, you know? Are you awake? Look at yourself, you are invisible, don’t mind the crowd. Can you dream?Yes, dream. When you look beyond, where flowers grow; far from here. The walls, a landscape, you can see from above! If one could stop that buzz I would be happy. It hurts my muscles. Can you hear it? A buzz, yes something that rings. It sends shivers down through the bricks. It hearts you know,Light is the only drug. Water is the only light. Words by Nefeli Sotiraki Black
Through research and devising I focused on exploring the importance of senses in an immersive environment. Due to the lack of natural light in the space, particular focus was given on sight and the relation between vision, mind and rational thought. This theme was further developed through work on characterisation. Photography: Nick Moran, Lisa Marker, Billy London
Creating a primitive society, which has evolved devoid of light or contact with the outside world, was the basis on which the narrative and dramaturgy of the piece was constructed. The physicality, movement and voice characterisation, which I explored through group workshops and individual work, stressed on the creaturesâ€™ instinctive and irrational nature. Photography: Nick Moran
As light became a commodty and sign of power in the world â€˜below the saltâ€™, a hierarchy was formed where each creature in the underground society was positioned. Those who possessed light and could see were at the top, those who were watched - at the bottom. This created a skeleton within which various micro-performances could co-exist coherently. Photo: Billy London
As a dramaturg I helped devise a series of sight-related tests which acted as a ritual of initiation for the audience. The tests were performed as acts of mis-recognition, where the audience were presented with a distorted image of themselves and made to doubt their senses, enouraging them to alter their habitual way of perceiving. Photo: Billy London
eye is i: researching sight and society
Theoretical research into healing and initiation rituals, colour and light therapy, the eye as a symbol in different cultures and social class division, was developed further through practical experiments with light and projection, which explored how characters responded to light and how this would inform their movement and behaviour. Photography: Nefeli Sotiraki Black
One cannot fight solitude, one must make a friend of it. itâ€™s a lot of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. - a MAN LIVING IN THE TUNnELS OF LAS BEGAS, speaking about life underground and how it changed his social status
-Maurizio Montalbini, world champion in longest stay underground on the effects of long term isolation
A film, an installation, a live performance. A Krétakör production.
Dir. Arpad Schilling. Co-produced by Prague Quadrennial 2011.
Twelve strangers come together in an abandoned place, soon to be demolished, with a single task - to form a community. Half fiction, half reality, Jp.Co.De merges film and live performance and explores the thin line between myths and society, imagination and life.
Within the wider framework of Krétakör’s project, however, a parallel narrative emerged which was entirely created by the participants and their individual perspectives. By appropriating the assigned tasks, through interventions in the space and experiments with found materials, the participants in Jp.Co.De took their own take on Jp.Co.De.
What follows is my take on the narrative of the project, the space and the community, as well as various small installations or interventions which I have taken part of.
...WITH FREE WILL
SPACE INTERVENTION: KITCHEN
The kitchen installation was created for the public performances of Jp.Co.De. Remaining close to the nature of the project, it probed the border between life and art by offering a new perspective on what was already there. To achieve this, I used found materials, namely, plastic pieces with inscribed letters, which were originally used as name tags for offices.
Having a limited number of letters, I strategically created words which would highlight certain spots in the kitchen in a funny or subversive way, as a way to map the space and highlight its identity as the centre of community life.
*enter* JpCoDe Revolution Game Rude Pravo Discussion Game Over JpCoDe *exit*
WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND: THE AUDIENCE RESPONsE What are the rules of a community? Jana • Listen • Hard question. You need 1) people/ living things; 2) something that bonds them together • self-respect • acceptance Where are the borders between fiction and reality? Riga • The cerebral cortex. Fiction is relative • Where we place them • Reality is perceived differently by everyone so we are all living in our own fiction; whichever way we perceive perception is the border. • What I believe is reality. What I don’t believe it is fiction.
The architecture of the kitchen with a screen-like divide between spaces, created a predisposition to see what is ‘inside’ as performance. I explored how this could be used to manipulate the audience’s experience and how the divide could be overcome by engaging the audince in the live of the community, such as preparing and serving food.
• Life is too short to be afraid. • My feelings are beyond words after that. Good thing they’re all that matters. • This day is SO strange. • Wow, I want to do this! • If you get far away enough you will be on your way back home. • Pancakes and love • Well done you (and the same in Chinese) • Will you ever leave? • When/ How did humans ever create communities in the first place? Like the very 1st time? Was that artificial or forced any more than this experiment? Or the opposite - the experiment is a choice to take yourself out of ordinary lives...
Do you feel like part of the/an experiment? • Yes • A little bit • In some way you are here and do all this for a performance... people like to see [the] life of others Do you believe in destiny? • • • • • •
Yes Да I make my own destiny When it works for me No I believe in chance [overwritten by another spectator] No I believe in the chances of destiny • You lead your own path in life but there are always conditions out of your control. It’s the step you take that detemines [...]
The act of sharing was crucial to the performance, so it got integrated in the performance as a way of interacting with the audience. The spectators could share their thoughts and experiences on four cardboard sheets which covered the kitchen table. Their writings not only documentated the event but became part of its narrative.
SPATIAL DRAMATURGY: ACCES DENIED. TRY ALTERNATIVE ROUTE
Despite of being under demolishion, Rude Pravo was alive and rapidly transforming. The closing of certain paths made it necessary to find new ways around the building. Through a series of photographs I explored possible routes in Rude Pravo and the different narratives they created about it as one walked along them.
The Building has pushed me out of MY comfort zone.The space is alive and sets its own rules; some of them are written on the walls. - Tanya Mihaylina, participant in JP.CO.DE
(he) art play is a short piece, devised from Heiner Müller’s ‘Heart Play’. It is composed
in three parts - two film projections intersected with a live performance.
The piece overlays movement, film, stop-motion animation and sound, trying to find a way into the human heart and psyche. It explores the tension between our innate struggle to connect with others and our ultimate failure to do so.
The first part collages stop-motion animation and personal stories, in order to look at human relationships from an ecological perspective, relating the excess of consumerism to the emotional waste others dispose on us. The latter uses mpulses from Müller’s text to explore the heart as a space of embodied consciousness, where our experiences are stored. It focuses on inter-personal collisions as something experiences within the body and what happens to it when our emotional balance is disturbed.
My thoughts are wounds in my head. My brain is a scar. I want to be a machine. - Heiner Müller, ‘Hamletmachine’
Working with text
A May I lay my heart at your feet. B If you don’t make a mess on my floor.. A My heart is clean.. B We’ll see, won’t we.. A I can’t get it out.. B Would you like me to help you.. A If you wouldn’t mind.. B It’ll be a pleasure. I can’t get it out either.. A cries. B I will remove it surgically. What have I got this penknife for anyway. We’ll have this sorted out in no time. Work will keep you from despair. Right, there we are. But this is a brick. Your heart is a red brick.. A Yes, but it beats only for you.. (1981) A beats B to death with the brick. (Addition, July 1991). Setting the text apart from its political content, the devising process focused on the power relation between the two characters on an individual level. The foreward from ‘Hamletmachine’ became a prism through which I examined the mechanics of violence in the text and in our everyday lives.
My research focused on exploring the different meanings of the heart as material object/organ and symbol of our emotional lives, which formed the basis of the piece. Through movement workshops I explored how the notion of the heart as a brick could be embodied less literally and experimented with possible scenarios for the meeting and collision between two people.
Creating layers of meaning
Each media used in the piece took on a different angle at deconstructing the original text. My role as dramaturg was to ensure that they all resonated with each other, creating a web of possible interpretations for the audience without imposing a linear narrative. I explored sound as a way to create an overall structure and a sense of continuity for the piece.
DEVELOPING NARRATIVE THROUGH STORYBOARD
Taking impulses from MĂźllerâ€™s text, the piece explored the heart as an imaginary room, where our experiences are stored. Developing this idea through storyboarding and film, I was able to explore the relationship between scenes in detail, in order to find a sequence of actions/scenes which would enhance the overall concept of the project.
DEVISING LIVE PERFORMANCE
Exploring the possibilities of butoh, I experimented with embodying the concept of the piece through tasks. Adding a pile of bricks on which the performers had to balance, destabilised and magnified the importance of their movements, creating a strong sense of fragility, urgency and immediacy, which highlighted the aesthetics of butoh.
EXPLORING THE RELATION BETWEEN FILM, text AND MOVEMENT
The performers’ movements responded to the film, creating a feedback loop, while at the same time weaved their own narrative, thus multiplying the possible interpretations of the piece. The film projection was overlayed with fragments of Müller’s text, spoken in Finnish, Bulgarian and English, adding a further layer of complexity.
Mirror series explores photography as performance, condensing action to a single image. A construction of mirrors becomes the stage on which artist, photographer and spectator collaborate to create a performance of shapes and reflections. The project focuses especially on immersing the spectator in the photograph by constructing a unique perspective for him.
is inspired by the work of Francesca Woodman and looks at the
ways in which self-identity is distorted in her images. By fragmenting the human body into myriad pieces, the photographs in Mirror Series hide as much as they reveal, and question that any one perspective is more valid than the other.
constructing PERSPECTIVE. deconstructing identity
I spent time exploring different mirror configurations, which would create multiple reflections. As I wanted to achieve a sense of concealed and distorted identity, reflecting Francesca Woodmanâ€™s work, I self-imposed a rule for my work that the face of the model was never seen directly and that her body is perceived as fragments.
I wanted to create a surreal and disorientating experience for the viewer, so in the photoshoot I emphasised the importance of unusual perspectives. Positioning the body as an extention of the mirrors and vice versa offered a way to draw the viewer in and at the same time create a sense of voyeurism.
dressing THE audience is a project developed in collaboration with visual artist Nefeli Sotiraki Black as part of a group design exhibition. It uses photographs of existing stage designs in an installation context, with specific emphasis on audience immersion and interactivity.
The projectâ€™s aim was to present the artistâ€™s work, while at the same time reveal her unique approach to stage design: using photography and collage as a way to create bold visual statements, which go beyond their use as theatrical sets and transform into environments the audience can inhabit. Once they enter the space, the spectators become part of the performance event.
The project focused on creating an environment, which will immerse the spectator in the world of Nefeliâ€™s images and provoke him to respond to them. Through practical experiments, I helped construct a set, which, when lit, created an architecture out of projections and reflections that viewers could inhabit.
I aim to create a canvas where the audience are the live portraits. - NEFELI SOTIRAKI BLACK
I also experimented with different materials, such as mirrors, blinds and panels, and angles, to ensure that the viewers would inevitably cast shadows or add their reflections to the projected images, thus becoming participants in and co-creators of the installation.
On the other hand, the spectators were also being performed on, as the projections cast costumes out of light onto them, which could be observed by other members of the audience. Their movements would animate the still image and alter the dynamics of the piece.