Interview with Bojana Svejic > Theorist- Brussels/Belgrad
Nicolas Siepen

Nico: If we consider that in mass media, discursive and aesthetical regimes produce the appearance of new reality, do you think it’s possible to produce images or discourse that is not only circulating inside a certain community but on the level of media-representation?

Bojana: I must say that I can't imagine my work being represented on a wider scale than a certain community. This community is international, so there is a networking and even within this network my work is not the most popular; it always meets resistance from programmers.
I would prefer the work to be disseminated so that when people need to take it they see it as a statement of what theatre is or could be; similar to the way Godard functions for Jan Ritsema and me. In this theatre performance work we do, we certainly can't do what he does in the medium of film but we try to extract some of the poetic principals, and these definitely have another configuration in our work like "Ici et Allieur."  I don’t know what this would mean in terms of media representation because performance as a kind of life can't have a wider mediation than the event.

To struggle to spread that event requires a lot of communing with programmers and venues because you cannot ... I wish we could represent our own work but that would localise it and very soon the local community knows you too well that you are somehow contained or you have access to certain facilities and certain meetings...

Perhaps maybe that’s why performance is so resistant to contemporary forms of organisation because it cannot move or transform itself in other media.

Nico: What is it you would like to transform or transgress in your situation at the moment? Or what do you think is worth fighting for?

I don’t belief in transgression as such anymore; it doesn’t interest me.

Nico: Why?

Bojana: Because I don’t believe that crossing borders is an act that violates anything. It's about regarding and disregarding borders at the same time and that’s not transgression, that’s more of a kind of in-distinction. I prefer not to break the border or not to deserve them but to regard them and not regard them that is like you are swimming in a sea – this is maybe a very banal visual example – I remember that when I was a child I would swim to the border and it was nice to hold the string and go behind and then turn back in and behind, not playing, not going into the vast unknown, into the horizon, but to say ok it’s just a very material border.

Maybe this is just a naive way to deviate from answering the question. Of course there are things to struggle for but they definitely don’t include changing other people changing how other people think. I don’t know, I can't say, I think that my work suffers from critical distance and critical distance is always partly didactic-and negative, so it’s based on a kind of negative constitution and I wish there would be some other possibility to be less critical and more inventive in the sense of not always having to define yourself by what you aren't. What is it what you want? For instance, I would want to be working on a culture that I think I belong to, to a culture of promises. I have this interest in exploring how we perform our subjectivity in constant deferral. It’s reflected so much in language and in this communication we participate in which is always about postponing the moment of truth because there is, of course, no truth but it’s a question of having the experience of the future before the future arrives and somehow that’s the safety we have; it's the safety of displacement. Displacement is not in the past or aside but always what’s next or how will I act next.  


Nico: How would you define the political? Where do you see possibilities for yourself to invest into the political?


Bojana: There is this definition that I like very much by Jacques Rancière.  In his text ThePolitics of Aesthetics he asserts that not everything is political but the political is that which produces new voices. It’s a vague definition because we must ask, for whom is this voice new, and is it a voice that is representing or mediating itself? It’s a questionable definition but when I would try to answer this question in regards to my work then it would be as if I stand for some kind of Enlightenment of the people, which I don’t because I don’t believe that one should work from the incentive of trying to change other people. But there is something about the intellect or believing that the capacity is greater than how people are treated and that’s what's important for me in theatre.

Also concerning readership, whom do you write for? Of course you have to take care about the communication but it shouldn't start from the presupposition that people can understand something to a certain limit and that you have take into consideration this limit and to extend it but to say well you don’t know what people can do, what they are capable of, and that’s exactly the drive to do something else and do more and not to always start in negotiation of what is there, what is present, and what else we would like to have.   


Nico: However, do you see in this communication a potential to generate self-conscious political communities and when does it turn in to autistic behaviour?

Bojana: Unfortunately, I make a distinction between community and collectivity. Somehow community is the place you like to live and is based on desire and there is little commitment because you are there anyhow. 

You are collective by circumstances and I prefer to speak of collectivity as the power to act out of a collectivity that comes together for something where there is a shared desire but also a certain determination to act.

It’s a question if the community shares discourse or if they share incestuous relationships that saturate the space with meaning. It is a problem of jargon- when we develop a jargon then it limits the horizon of thought. That's where we establish the criteria of representation and we should think about what's represented and how it is represented.