Departures and Arrivals

DETAIL

INTERVIEWS

RETURN OF THE ZOMBIE - INTERVIEW WITH DRAGANA BULUT
RITA NATALIO

"...we try to bring awareness to what constructs our reality and subjectivity, since these framing processes are something that we unconsciously apply and it has huge consequences on the way we perceive reality and eventually on what we become. Perhaps the consequences of the failure of acknowledging those frames can have quite zombifying effects."

 

INTERVIEW WITH DRAGANA BULUT

RITA NATÁLIO:
In the synopsis of “Return of the zombie, you state that the project deals with the figure of the zombie as a “metaphor of our contemporary subjectivity”. How would you characterize contemporary subjectivity?

DRAGANA BULUT: I would say that contemporary subjectivity is more and more standardized, but of course there is a system in place that is in control of the production of such subjectivity. In the research phase of this piece I looked at the concept of “Zombie” from different perspectives. For instance, in the Haitian voodoo zombies are related to slavery. In George A. Romero’s zombie trilogy for cinema, zombies are a direct consequence of a problem in society. And in contemporary cultural theory writings, zombies are related to immaterial labour. In most of those examples, zombies are often “instrumentalized” to point out a certain social problematic. In the piece I decided to use the zombie figure as a metaphor for standardized subjectivity, within the larger scope of the notion of standardized and prescribed reality. In this way, the zombie figure was used to point out the fragile relation between reality and fiction, trying to expose the mechanisms through which our subjectivity and reality is being constructed. In this sense, the monstrosity of the zombie figure and its absence of consciousness is understood as a tool for disclosure of the processes of reality production and control.

RITA NATÁLIO: In this sense, you point out a fragile relation between reality and fiction. But can we still work today from this divide between reality and fiction? Isn’t it all fiction or "post-truth"? How can performance art deal with this issue?

DRAGANA BULUT: I agree with you that this relation is not binary. That’s why I think it is a “Fragile” relation. It is a complex and slippery relation, and that’s what the piece is trying to tackle. I wanted to question if what we perceive as our reality is actually constructed as any other fiction. If the “real” world doesn’t exist, but it only exists as a construction in which we inhabit already prescribed roles, reality can then be observed as a manufactured product, where the “natural” doesn’t exist and is confused with what is simulated. Departing from the assumption that our reality is constructed as much as our subjectivity, I wanted to juxtapose the notion of simulated reality to the simulation / fiction of the theater space. Until which extent our reality is already a fiction and how does that relate to the fictionality of the theater space?

RITA NATÁLIO: In "Return of the zombie" there is also a lot of "choreographed accidents”, a focus in parts of the action that are not normally in the light like coughing, twisting an ankle or a cd that doesn’t work. How would you relate this procedure with the idea of subjective zombification and immaterial labour?

DRAGANA BULUT: The accidents that you are referring to, were part of one of the symbolic frames that we have been dealing with in the piece: the symbolic frame of the “pre-supposed” reality of the theatre place. The piece consists on shifting the symbolic frames of different situations in the theatre space, and we used this procedure as our main methodology. In fact, I believe that we become aware of certain social and symbolic frames when something forces us to replace one frame with another. Through the procedure of shifting social-symbolic frames we try to bring awareness to what constructs our reality and subjectivity, since these framing processes are something that we unconsciously apply and it has huge consequences on the way we perceive reality and eventually on what we become. Perhaps the consequences of the failure of acknowledging those frames can have quite zombifying effects.

RITA NATÁLIO: Reversely, there is also something in the piece about "connection" and “affection” between performers and spectators. How do you connect with the audience if everything is fictional and even the idea of representation is represented/simulated? Is there a possibility of affection in the way one does performance art?

DRAGANA BULUT: I would like to believe that as long as there is a human presence on the stage there is a possibility of affect. What interests me specifically is this work of revealing the construction processes, and even though the spectator is confronted with the processes, he or she can nevertheless be affected by it. Thus I am definitely interested in creating this kind of tension between construct and affect. Exposing the construct but at the same time enabling the affective relation.