Zavod Sploh

Soft Power

in the frame of the cycle Ventilator 2023

Concept by Kristina Aleksova

In 2023, we invited performance artist, dancer, choreographer and ballerina Kristina Aleksova Zavašnik. In this performative research, the author and performer thematically focuses on the concept of "soft power" - a term formulated by Joseph S. Nye to describe the ability to persuade based on the appeal of culture, on the political ideals and active politics of a country.

Since its origins in the Italian and French courts and its zenith in Imperial Russian ballet, the art of ballet has been closely linked to political power. There are quite a few examples that shout about the fact that ballet has been a secret weapon in the past, using the ballet stage as an arsenal of soft power. Encoded in the simple libretti of ballet are a whole series of norms and ideals that have shaped society in their own utterly non-threatening way. Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty raise gender issues, Spartacus propagates the power of the Soviet Union, The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet touch on moral education, and even the Slovenian ballet past represents the Slavic and pagan heritage in the ballets of Pia and Pina Mlakar. This wordless art can obviously travel far, which is why the artist again reaches for models of behaviour and controlled spaces that are both ultra-civilised and ultra-repressive.

In Soft Power, the artist intertwines ballet convention with contemporary performance practices, highlighting both the social building blocks of the past and the conventions that are changing in a media-heterogeneous space. She explores choreographic tools, creating a dance language and performance principles that most clearly represent the current principles of soft power. Ballet may indeed be the best art form for escape, but some realities simply cannot be escaped.

Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, which has in the past been regarded as a controversial work, was created at a time of great scientific, artistic and intellectual progress. In terms of music and performance, it represents one of the turning points in theatre art, and choreographers are still treating it in very different ways today.

Kristina Aleksova and Anita Wach thematically analyse the work in the series Ventilator.

Photographer: Marcandrea

Brez bolečine ni dobička / No Pain, No Gain
Sentence 27: "The magnitude of a progress is gauged by the greatness of the sacrifice that it requires..” Friedrich Nietzsche
31. 5. 2023 at 20h, Španski borci

Authors and performers: Kristina Aleksova and Anita Wach

The first in a series of performance events focusing on the theme of sacrifice.

Although the brutality of rituals in which young virgins were sacrificed is a thing of the past, closer reflection shows that sacrifice is a driving force for social progress. We are expected to submit to higher purposes, whether physically or mentally, to transcend our limitations, to sacrifice our time, our bodies and our lives for the common good. The integration of violence in the act of sacrifice and the ambiguity of the roles of victim and oppressor only add to the belief that the price of progress is the gritting of teeth.

How much freedom are we willing to sacrifice in exchange for security?
How many laboratory mice do we sacrifice for health and beauty? 
How much pain are we willing to endure for progress?

“Don't stop me now, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball”
22. 10. at 19h, Kazina, Julij Bette hall
Authors and performers Kristina Aleksova and Anita Wach + Eduardo Raon

In the second of a series of performance events, Eduardo Raon and I tackle the theme of ecstasy.

Ecstasy - a state of feelings and emotions that is so intense that we transcend rational thinking and self-control. A state of mind that creates space for unimaginable acts and transcending the known. It also gives rise to the need to regain control and the necessity to return to reality. 

In reality, we do not want to go to the very end. We are rational beings and the attempt to reverse ordinary perception is a game of reason that desperately wants to switch off but does not know how. What it does know is the body and simple logic of mechanics.
Stvar interpretacije/ Matter of interpretation 
22. 11. at 20h, Španski borci

Authors and performers Kristina Aleksova and Anita Wach + Luka Piletič

In the third in a series of performance events, Luka Piletič and Anita Wach focus on the interpretation of movement. 

Ventilator #3 relates to the conceptual framework of genesis - storytelling with complex genealogies and chronologies, supported by stories and anecdotes. In the past, the art of storytelling not only affirmed the importance of particular communities, but also played a key role in reconciling and uniting different factions in society. 

Can the fusion of language and movement similarly pave the way for reconciliation and bridge the divide between spectators and dancers? 

An event where the movement present is linked to the birth of myth, without distinguishing between fiction and fact.
Ventilator #4
13. 12. at 20h, Španski borci

Authors and performers Kristina Aleksova and Anita Wach + Lana Zdravković

Can we do that? Can we still taste this, can we still breathe this, can we still look this, can we still exhale this, can we still see this, can we still smile this?

In the fourth event of the Ventilator series, the artists focus on the notion of "soft power", which they interpret as the power of the desire to self-reduce into infinity. In collaboration with philosopher and performer Lana Zdravković, they subject their bodies to a mechanical ballet of desire, creating a sequence of constant, insatiable and empty possibilities. Endless promises lead to endless disappointments. The production of desire leads to the production of illusion. Repetition of the same thing leads to confirmation of differences. The expression of demands leads to the reproduction of approvals. The performers play with the fact that the liberation of desire does not bring emancipation, but a mutated commodification.

Co-produced by KITCH, an institute for artistic production and research
Ostanite mirni / Keep calm
Sentence 28: “What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” Werner Herzog
24.12. at 19h, Španski borci

Authors and performers Kristina Aleksova and Anita Watch + Ena Kurtalić

Christmas Eve 2023, the year of happiness, happy break-ups and bloody twists. 
Everyone who has nowhere to go is invited. 
Everyone who doesn't want to go anywhere is invited. 
Everyone who would like to escape the burden of this evening is welcome. 
Join us for an event after which we promise you a deep and restful sleep.

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