Festival of Live Art
18. - 21. March 2010 - ACUD Theater, Berlin
PLOT IN SITU - Festival of live art, Berlin, 2010
"I took advantage of being in a theater, first to say that, maybe, the table, the water and the glasses, the microphones, the chairs and the cameras were just props for a conventional conversation. And after that i had the aim of having a conversation were we could share and learn more then conceptualize in a specific format"

Open talk in the last day of the festival

More than 200 persons came to see the performances in the 4 days of Plot is Situ festival. Was a pleasure to follow all the artists works in progress and a pleasure to have people such as Maren Strack and Hans Kuiper following, as well, all the days and performances of the festival.

Plot in Situ starts with the aim of confronting artists and their practices with the Theater space, to be worked in site-specific. A difficult task in a very specific Theater space.
This Theater was very specific in is form, is not a big theater and not a typical theater. Is a space that is consider a Theater, that as theater conditions, a theater environment that influence audience behaviors like a theater.

Working site specific in this space was a hard task for all the artists. Not every artist could work in a very present way their personal concepts related to the festival concept. Even I constructed my performance considering the space and inside a site specific practice, but was not entire positioned inside some site specific frames and meanings, and didn't work really good because was suppose to be observed by different perspectives. I tried to reformulate the point of view of the spectator by position the action in the middle of the room giving the opportunity for audience to see several perspectives of the piece and forget the passive place of theater audience, but was not so successful. What happened was theater working in is own, bringing the majority of audience to the audience space, with expectations of audience.

The term site-specific starts when artists took the sculpture out of the gallery to the public space. Their aim was to provoke the public space. At the same time that they were re-constructing the space and the quotidian of the people that were passing by, they were re-thinking as well the institutionalization of the art structures.
Working site specific in one specific space means that this work cannot be made in other space, means that the space is considered, is confronted, is modulated, is re-thinked and re-formed in his aesthetic or social characteristics, in a way that cannot be position in other space or context.

Not all the works could follow completely the festival concept and for me that is not the most important issue because was a starting point for several points of view to be presented and found. The majority of the performances worked in a very interesting way, maybe not so attached to a site-specific practice but very much inside a context specific approach.
During the festival time there was several discussion about different kind of practices. What is performance, what is video performance, what is the difference between performance art and Theater performance. Questions that were made by an active discussion of the artists before the festival days, concerning the festival concept.
The presented performances, inside the festival frame, made a drawing of possible forms and interpretations of such terms and concepts, all inside the same space following some how the same framework.

For me all the works responded to the festival concept, in a way that everyone of them could re-formulate the space, maybe in a much more interesting way, relating to the context of Theater, then inside a site-specific frame. Were 4 days of festival and 9 performances each one re-thinking the space and is context.

More or less site specific, more or less performance art or theater performance they were forms that occupied the space, the Theater. In every performance the majority of the public responded by going to the audience space. Typical behavior when you go to a Theater.

A big part of the performances tried to reformulate the spectator role and position in the space, by creating environments to be lived not as a theater audience. But on the reality what happened was audience always looking for audience space, audience clapping with an audience behavior, audience waiting without knowing that the performance started already, because just inside the Theater space audience can be audience.

Should I ask if the performances works were not precise enough on their attempt to work site-specific, reformulating the audience space? or should I understand that Theater space was working by is own and an audience of performance artists, theater performance artists and visual artists behaved in a same way influenced by that?

The conclusion that I take from this festival is that Theater is a very specific space, that work by it self, audience and performances. The majority of the performances were not stronger then the space it self, concerning it as a place to think and work, and I can see that in the behavior of the audience. Just with one exception of Lan´s Hungh Performance, that could create an environment were people were positioned, with a certain order, in 3 different groups, in 3 different doors each one leading to 3 different spaces, the audience space, the stage and the backstage. His work made audience re-think their own roles, or as the title of his work mentioned, their numbers.
But even in Lan´s Hungh performance that started in the room where people wait and buy the ticket, the theater worked by it self inside the audience again. The majority of people were expecting to enter the theater space, and they didn't understood that the performance was already started. Audience waiting for their number of being audience. As well for that i congratulate Lan.

Another example was the performance of Jörn J. Bürmester named "Performance art ist live. Theater is death" that was questioning the theater aesthetics and his illusion to the public. Even in Jörns performance that tries to demystify the attempt of theater to construct illusion and representation, by exaggerating theater, by ridicule theater representation could not reformulate the public behavior. People were clapping and clapping like a theater show, even if Jörn was presenting theater as a dead practice as a fake illusion. People understood his piece but behaving as a theater audience.

It was not site-specific anymore, and more interesting then that, the majority of artists develop a way of thinking this space that was connected much more to the idea of is context. Maybe a gap of words created by the festival concept, but that produced many rich environments and questions.

The influence of that space in the artists works and in the audience behavior is a very interesting thing to be studied. This theater, that some people reclaimed to be a non theater space, could work by itself in the audience behavior in a way that site specific was almost impossible to happen, in a total vision of the term, during the festival, that was in a special way replaced by an idea much more related to the a theater context.

Is site-specific impossible in the Theater space? Is performance possible in the theater space? What is the difference between performance art and theater performance in the theater space where both have the same audience?

In conclusion the impossibility of site specific in theater is created by its form, that creates specific behaviors to audience, that make the majority of audience live the works in a specific position, in a specific time. Audience, in this case, are performance art artists, theater performance artists, dance performance artists and visual artists. I am not trying to say that public behavior is the cause of the non specificity of the works of Plot in Situ festival. I am saying that in performance, public is part of the work, and theater space creates somehow a barrel between both, even in this public made by live art artists.

Performance art or Theater performance, in this case, where both difficult to work site-specific in the theater. That make both not so different from each other. Both can have different structures, one based more in the reality, presenting live pieces constructed to be think assuming a reflection and other using representation to show a point of view using a narrative, but both felt difficulties working site specific in theater, both brought context of theater as a way of questioning, or challenge theater space. For me that means that they are different but they can share same issues, they can share thoughts, they can help them selfs to understand each other and external issues from each other as well. In my opinion they are inside one of another, even if in the end they are so different.
So, maybe, we can defend the place of performance art, but excluding theater performance from it, is creating conventions in a practice that started as a tool to brake conventions.

Plot in Situ was not a perfect festival concerning some of is objectives, but was a very good way of putting several practices like performance art, theatre performance and visual arts together responding all to the same task, to understand that all of them have mutual points of view, that each one have a place and that they don't have to avoid them selfs.
Hope that everybody enjoyed the festival and thank you to all artists that participated in the festival, to all the invited artists and journalists that could come and share their thoughts and to all the team that helped in the festival conception.

Was a great time, and a great honor for me to have all the artists and many people interested in the festival. All the works were very special and challenged me to think about many subjects related to my motivation concerning the festival.

Thank you all

Marcio Carvalho