At the end of October we mindfully return to the end of July, when we talked, created, reflected, danced, doubted and experienced the ninth edition of 180° Festival – a laboratory for innovative art.
This issue conveys the impressions of the author Hristo Kaloyanov and his insight into the artistic experience of innovative art. On behalf of the whole team, we wish you a delightful reading and a rediscovery of the interaction between participants, audiences and spaces along the Existinct orbit.
180° – Laboratory for Innovative Art Festival
Below are just a few snapshots, memories and observations from what I saw. They are mainly dedicated to the three teams that presented the result of their joint interaction in just four days (perhaps that’s how long it takes according to the organisers for a benign creative impulse to emerge), going through the Student Lab partnership, made possible in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in Sofia, and end with a glimpse at the Chamber Music Improvisation Lab, under the guidance of the flute player and co-founder of Ensemble Modern, Dietmar Wiesner.
The story tells of a boy who practices and who heals with his practice, in the words of the Bedouin Prokhorov, who is also seated on one of the cushions on the ground, pulling from the hose of a nearby hookah. On the improvised stage in front of the audience, in fact the only wider empty space, a woman is visible, who demonstrates the described practice as the narrative about the boy continues. The audience is also invited to repeat the practice and experience the healing powers themselves.
Gradually, an exotic environment has emerged with a meditation centre and a buzzing periphery, which at a certain point sets in. Without a conflict or confrontation, without the drama of dramaturgy, the buzzing periphery leads to dynamics of the collective experience. And at this point the technological possibilities of the stage environment take some precedence, as from the distant geographical territory, somewhere, in the background, a virtual simulation environment of multiple collages of kittens is activated. The amalgam brought to a climax with no clear direction leads the general commotion to its resolution at the exit of the room, where, behind the open door is a white light.
A short form with no clear message that sets a stormy rhythm for the beginning.
Anticipation settles on the balcony. Gradually a repetitive soundscape takes shape, quieter at first and increasingly more noticeable with time. In front of the stage the curtains are drawn down, leaving a narrow slit in the middle, through which one can see the stage furniture disarranged in a particularly strange way, without creating a sense of any particular place. The light is dimmed and it leads to alertness. The audience has become the epitome of a lingering expectation. The soundscape is still silent and its constant humming unites the audience in a collective whole, alert to its constituent parts in the darkness, and transformed into a gazing from behind the balcony of the hall.
What is seen is as if with the periphery – what is being viewed is not a distinct figure, but something passing through, perhaps something that doesn’t actually move, but is only part of the set. But something there is certainly moving, and with it the sound picture becomes more and more saturated. Gradually, the figure of Marion Darova materialises on the stage, hanging an old coat on the set and furiously strikes the coat with a metal rod. When she stops, she puts on the coat, approaches the piano on the stage and performs a few uncoordinated chords. The figure then slowly descends from the stage to the box of the hall, but the piano continues to play. Whether the piano is mechanical or, more likely, the sound is pre-recorded is irrelevant at this point when the illusion of something seemingly on the stage has materialised.
The expectation of the viewers has been satisfied, something has happened and the balance between viewers and presentation has been restored, but the sound picture does not suggest the idea of a finale of the experience. The figure of Marion Darova turns her gaze to the balcony, the body in slow, methodical movements turns and begins to climb onto the first rows, approaching with a stare directed upwards. Already at the rear rows, she begins to walk upright from row to row on the seats ever so concentrated and meticulously. Reaching below the balconies, the audience no longer sees the figure. A certain confusion follows – is that it; is there more? At this point, the figure has climbed to the balcony without the aid of additional means and slowly passes, looking around at the crowd. It stops before one of those standing in the back and hands him the coat that it had previously hit. The figure then retreats to the back of the balcony, turning the gaze of the audience to itself and exits.
This time, the audience has no specific place to occupy and can move freely around the hall. While the sound experiment takes place in one corner, in the other, two performers begin their experience, consisting of animating an object through movement and light. The two performers take turns moving on top of three tables, always moving one forward, while standing on the other two. At its core, the experience is an exploration of movement and where it can lead. The room is then gradually crossed on the diagonal, where the tables are left and the performers begin to stack pieces of styrofoam, which at one point begin to resemble a city between creation and destruction. For the finale, the musical instrument is left next to one of the speakers and from the resonance on the the strings, the buzzing continues after the performers withdraw. It can be argued that the third day of the festival presented an elegant example of an object exploration and how objects themselves can continue this exploration without human intervention, only resonating with each other.