just a little bit beyond...

BADco. Changes

This post closes the little series on performances shown during ‘Tanz im August‘ 2008. Yesterday I went to see BADco.’s Changes at Sophiensaele.

Changes (concept and choreography: Nikolina Pristaš) is a hard piece. And with those horrible chairs in the front row of Sophiensaele it is double so. It took a little while for me to get anything out of it. In fact it took until the Q&A aferwards. I didn’t so much listen to the talk then used this time to think about what I had just seen.

The performance starts with a short lament on how sound and music have become so ubiquitous to turn them meaningless. Throughout the piece a narrator reads texts, sometimes live, sometimes recorded documents such as a documentary about ants or pieces from the BBC airing of John Cage’s 4’33”.

In fact the narrator (Goran Sergej Pristaš) can be seen lying on a pillow in the back of the stage, while five women (Sandra Banić, Ana Kreitmeyer, Nikolina Pristaš, Zrinka Šimicˇić, Zrinka Užbinec) perform a dance that evokes the idea of remote control or robots. It’s not that the dancers don’t dance with each other but each seems very distancend. Throughout the dance what looks like little missteps keep the performance off-balance, which prevents it to ever create the notion of anonoymous bodies on stage and reconfirms the idea that these movements might not be voluntary. In short, the choreography creates a space that does not seem purposeful, but neither empty.

Meanwhile the narrator reads a fable about a grashopper and some ants thus introducing the main topic of the piece: the notion of work and it’s relation to living a life. In the fable the grashopper stands for a hedonistic approach, while the approach of the ants more closely resembles that of the everyday drudgery of modern (and not so much contemporary) life. From the fable the text moves on to speak about the need for ‘laziness’ in art. Next in line is John Cage’s “4’33”“. The fable is then revisited and here – the only time in the piece – one dancer speaks in the first person as one of the ants. Her speech is Marxist-Leninist in discourse but dystopian in content: work will always be there and it will always be a burden.

This little description hopefully gives an idea on how much is going on. And how incompatible it seems. The piece lasts a bit more than an hour and my first impression was: this is too much. Too many different things mashed together. The dance does not seem to reflect the words, merely using the drowning speech as soundtracks for inexplicable movements. The texts itself don’t lend themselves easily for a combined reading. A fable, documentaries, marxist discourse simply don’t mix. All this creates an excessive demand on the audience. In fact so excessive that some of them left the piece. (As an aside: I thought it was hilarious that BADco managed to re-stage Cage and illicit some of the same reactions from the audience as when it was first performed by musicians: disbelieve and anger.)

But the piece exposes its qualities afterwards. The discordances of its building blocks is stark enough to prevent easy consumption while still retaining enough congruence to make for food for thought. The biggest problem I had with it was that it seemed to talk less about contemporary conditions but somehow about times past. Not that there was any nostalgia for the good old days. Instead it didn’t seem to address the present. My life certainly has it’s moments of ant-like drudgery but it certainly seems vastly different from the sterotypical life of the semi-automatons of the industrial age.

‘Changes’ is the first piece of a trilogy, so maybe my concerns will be addressed in one of the later pieces.

If you are interested in reading a follow-up to the discussion below, please read this three-part series by Maria Technosux on Damoclash.


The Antideutschland strikes back


Antideutsch da capo al fine


  1. maria technosux

    This performance was sooo awful, I am amazed people made it to the end. Like so many other people, I left early, 15 minutes before the end. Lordy lawrd what a total bore. I will talk about this performance at length in a piece I am writing.

    I saw this performance on the second day. They were handing out free tickets to journalists and the like. Go figure. Word must have gotten out after the premiere about how awful and boring it was, which explains all the left-over tickets they were handing out to the media-people in order to at least get some exposure for the company. Well, THIS blog entry is the kind exposure they can expect from me!

    I have a HUGE problem with Bojana Cvejic praising them for the “lazy” posturing in the promo-text in the Tanz in August booklet.

    A SERB critic praising a CROATIAN company for calling themselves “lazy”?!
    This is totally unacceptable.
    That’s like a white supremacist American praising a blackman for calling himself lazy (ie, reinforcing a white racist stereotype about blacks), or a Mexican for calling himself lazy (ie, reinforcing a white racist stereotype about Latinos). It’s plain racist, and it’s no less racist when a Serb does it to a Croat.

    Just because they are both “white Europeans” doesn’t make it less racist. It refers to a racist stereotype that white Western Europeans harbor about Southern Europeans in general (not just Croats, but Greeks, Italians, the Spanish with their siestas, etc.). Just because it’s the Croat artist himself who reinforces the stereotype doesn’t make it less racist when a Serb (who lives in the West and identifies with that culture, as Bojana Cvejic clearly does) pats the Croat on the head for doing so.

    As for the Marx quote they included in the booklet (the lay-out of which looks suspiciously like Bojana Cvejic’s stammtisch magazine Etcetera), that is just sooo ignorant. Marx was NOT anti-work.

    All in all, a terrible company endorsed by a terrible writer producing terrible promotional blurbs for them. Never again. To hell with their trilogy plans.

    Maria Technosux

  2. caribu

    Hi Maria

    don’t you think you’re a bit out on a limb when you compare white supremacy with ‘serbian’ supremacy?

    I haven’t read the booklet, so I can’t comment on that, but the marxist text used in the performance (maybe a collage of Marx’ writings?) was quite pro-work, but in a way that your boss might be pro-work. Like Marx for managers.

  3. maria technosux

    Nope, I don’t think so, because if I were to say: “A Serb praising a Croat for calling himself lazy is a form of white-on-white racism”, than no one would have a clue as to what I am talking about and what it is that I take offense to.

    This I already know, because whenever I tell people that here in Europe there is, not just the traditional colour-line black/white, but also another colour-line separating “white” (Western Europeans and Scandinavians) from “not-so-white” (Southern/Mediterranean Europeans and all the “former Soviets”), people tend look at me like they’re not getting it. In my experience, people just don’t get it.

    I readily admit that it’s hyperbole to compare it to the n-word, but I wouldn’t be using hyperbole if people were intelligent and sensitive enough about racism-issues in general, let alone European white-on-white racism, to get a more subtle argument. The fact that such a comment appears as praise in a festival booklet is all the proof I need that no one is batting an eye at the racism behind such a comment.

    I can assure you if it were a white critic praising a black company for using the n-word about themselves, things would have been different. Such comments never would have been printed as praise in a festival booklet.

    So, it’s only when I compare it to something like black people using the n-word about themselves in front of (still racist) white audiences, that people might begin to understand what I am getting at, and why I find Bojana’s comment offensive and, yes, essentially racist.

    I honestly don’t think that BADCo are intelligent enough to understand that Bojana’s praise over the “lazy” posturing is actually a backhanded insult, informed by the Western-European (essentially racist) stereotype of the lazy Southern-European (Hitler’s “Niggers of Europe”). If BADCo were smart enough to realize what Bojana is doing there, they never would have mistaken her backhanded insult for praise.

    But then again, this kind of *cough* laziness with regards to interpreting just what sort of praise one receives (some of it might not be praise after all!) is not specific to BADCo. I have often seen performers appropriate the most ridiculous comments on their work for promotional purposes, just as long as such comments were vaguely resembling praise. BADCo have fallen into the same trap, a trap which Cvejic quite deliberately exploited, I might add.

    I guess BADCo were so desperate for a vested avant garde writer (like Cvejic) to write a positive promo-blurb that they would even allow a Serb of ill intent like Bojana Cvejic to insult BADCo to their faces and in front of their audience under the guise of promotional praise.

    BADCo of course will never admit to this, they will never admit they mistook her insults for praise.

    But some of us in the audience are a bit more savvy and skeptical of praise than the performers we are watching, and do not want OUR intelligence insulted by the likes of Bojana Cvejic, thank you very much.

    Maria Technosux

  4. caribu

    Hmmm, I don’t think this is the place to discuss intended or imagined insults. I certainly know that Bojana is familiar with the people from BADco. (as am I), and there is absolutely no way that she would intentionally hide an insult in a write-up of BADco.

    The ‘lazy’ remark alludes to a Croatian(?) artist quoted in the piece, who claims that art needs laziness and since the demise of Eastern Europe’s socialism artists are too much integrated into the market to be able to be lazy.

    So Bojana’s claiming BADco. is lazy actually means she thinks they are great artists. And as you can see from my text above, so do I.

    So sorry, but please no more insulting Bojana (or BADco. for that matter) on this blog. If you want to write something about racism in Europe, you are welcome to. You can either do this in the comments here or start your own blog (it’s fun, you should!). But these vindictive rants about Bojana are superfluous and very speculative.

    And hey, you know me, it’s not that I agree with everything Bojana writes, but she is not the racist evil dragon you seem to think her to be.

    So be warned, any further insults will be censored off my blog. Arguments are fine, and even polemics but personal insults are NOT OK.

  5. maria technosux

    First of all, what are you concerned about? That BADCo might read this? That Bojana Cvejic might? Judging by their statements, they’re probably too lazy to get on the internet and Google reviews of their show, ahahaha! No really, I don’t think they will ever see this discussion unless you send them the URL, so don’t get so stressed out by my comments. Cvejic/BADCo couldn’t care less if I don’t like their show or their promo-blurbs. They just don’t care. I didn’t have to pay for my ticket anyway, so it’s not like they’ve lost a potential repeat customer. It’s not like they will lose subsidies or invitations just because of some blog-comments on the internet.

    re: “Bojana’s claiming BADco. is lazy actually means she thinks they are great artists.”

    If Bojana truly thinks BADCo are great artists worthy of her support, then she should to praise them for other things than the laziness posturing. Why does she specifically highlight this laziness posturing for praise? She could have talked about 4,33 instead, or about the anthropomorphization of insects (or the animalization of human workers) in one of the voice-overs. But no, as far as Cvejic is concerned it’s BADCo’s laziness posturing that deserves all the praises.

    I am pretty sure there are a lot of white rap fans who refer to black rappers like Busta and Nelly as “my nigga”, thinking this is praise because Busta and Nelly themselves use the n-word about themselves and their buddies. The reasoning of white rap-fans being: Well, if Nelly calls himself nigga, and he calls his man my nigga, why can’t I call him my nigga? I mean well, don’t I? I call Nelly my nigga because I like him! It’s a word of praise.”.

    This is the same argument you are using re: Cvejic praising BADCo over the laziness posturing. “I only call them lazy cos they themselves do, to them lazy is a good word, so when I use it, I am calling them something they like”.

    What about all the people who feel that the n-word is NEVER a word of praise, whether it’s whites or black people themselves using it?

    I feel the same way about the word lazy applied to Southern Europeans.

    Remember what I said at Podewil about using examples from pop-culture to demonstrate how elite avant garde people are let off the hook for things that pop-culture people are crucified over? This is a perfect example! If Bojana was praising a black group for using the n-word to describe themselves, this promo-blurb would have never been printed. It’s because white-on-white racism isn’t taken seriously enough that the blurb is deemed acceptable.

    BADCo/Cvejic both take a racist stereotype (Southern Europeans are lazy) and turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy (“You say I am lazy? Well YESSIR I AM!”). Am I supposed to think this is A Good Thing? Well, NO IT ISN’T! Calling someone lazy is never an act of praise. Just because they call themselves that way doesn’t mean you should. Same with the n-word.

    Affirming racist stereotypes is never a good thing. That this promo-blurb gets printed is a symptom of an avant garde that refuses to acknowledge internalized racism.

    No one should be claiming praise for using racist terms (n-word, lazy Croats, etc) to describe themselves, and no one should give praise to anyone for using such words in a performance in front of a white audience in Western Europe that most likely already harbours racist stereotypes about Southern Europeans being lazy, and, like the performers themselves, most likely wants to see such stereotypes adhered to, not challenged. Shame on BADCo for self-congratulatingly using such a word, and shame on Cvejic for praising them over it.

    Maria Technosux

  6. caribu

    Well I don’t know. For one thing I don’t know because I haven’t read the booklet and for another thing I don’t know because I simply can’t follow your argument.

    In certain circumstances I would regard it as praise, if somebody called my lazy. For instance, if you associate laziness with aimlessness, with carpe diem, and with a hedonistic approach to life, I’d be flattered if somebody would call me lazy. This laziness is great. This is the laziness that harbours a hint of life as it should be. This is the discourse that talks about living to work vs. working to live. I hope I’m working to live not the other way around.

    The thing with popular culture (and all culture) is, that there are no right or wrong interpretations. So I can’t say you’re wrong. Because if you see this in it, then it is there, at least for you. But this is not how it comes across in your comment. You seem to think that the racist allusion is objectively there. And you know, it isn’t. I don’t see it, BADco didn’t see it, others haven’t spotted it either. If I insulted you in a way you don’t understand, do think that it would be an insult?

    In other words, I think it might be important to point that there is a racist stereotype about the lazy ‘others’. But to claim that there is racism involved in this instance, means being out on a very, VERY thin limb. Maybe you can convince me otherwise if you point me to the booklet so I can read it, but I seriously doubt that.

    Go ahead and discuss the racist implications of the term laziness but I think you go to far if you then imply that each speaker of this word is a racist. And that’s what your argument boils down to.

  7. maria technosux

    First of all, I do not think that “all interpretations are right”. If you see a traffic light switch to red, but you drive through anyway and end up in a car accident, don’t be telling your insurance-company that your choice to disregard the red light (which essentially tells you to stay put) was “the right interpretation”. It was the WRONG interpretation to disregard that red light.

    re: “You seem to think that the racist allusion is objectively there”.

    Oh, but that’s a good one: “It’s not really racist, Maria, it’s only racist because you make it so!” (aka “blaming the victim for feeling offended”).

    My friend, I know racism when it’s hurled at me that way. You can’t slap me across the face with a rotten fish the way they did and expect me to stay put. I don’t need a new pair of spectacles to tell racist comments apart from innocent ones, tho BADCo could certainly use a pair.

    Instead of blaming the victim for being sensitive to such things, why not blame BADCo for a lack of sensitivity for such things?

    Maybe because BADCo are awarded for their lack of pride, whereas I am marginalized for being too proud to debase myself to the level of affirming the white-man’s stereotypes about us in exchange for funds and an arts-career? BADCo get funding and access to public forums for living up to such racist stereotypes… well, if that’s what it takes to get funds, I’ll excuse myself. I think I will stay in the margins instead, and laugh at artists who willingly partake in what I see as an artistic version of the capitalist race to the bottom.

    BTW, why do you think I went out of my way to point out THE CONTEXT, ie. that they are performing in front of “a white Western-European audience that already harbors racist biases about Southern Europeans it wants to see adhered to, not challenged”? It is racist because makes a self-fulfilling prophecy out of a racist stereotype in front of the kind of people who want to see it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    This audience doesn’t want to see BADCo stand up and say:

    “You know what, Germans? You’re nothing but a bunch of racists for calling us Croats lazy. We Croats are not lazy. This is a lie. We Croats are NOT lazy! Quit laughing, this isn’t funny. Yeah, you too Bojana, quit laughing right now. Let me tell you what it is. It’s *racism*, plain and simple. You know what we’re gonna do now? We’ll be like James Brown, the hardest workin’man in music. We won’t slack like you want us to, like you expect us to. No, we will bust our asses and get it real tight. We will shake that money maker till you racists don’t know what’s what. Movin’, doin’it, ya know, shake our arms and move our bums. We Croats are not lazy.”. Think Tanz Im August would ever program something like this? The room would empty for sure, but quite differently from the flight we witnessed during BADCo.

    I think white Western audiences are perfectly happy to see blacks, Croats, Greeks, refer to themselves as lazy. Not only do they (whites) think it’s amusing, it’s also never a challenge to their worldviews (lazy artists get lazy audiences). White people don’t come to the theatre to have their racism challenged. If there’s any kind of laziness we are dealing here, than it’s the laziness of the avant garde to investigate internalized racism.

    So white Westerners walk into the theatre thinking we’re all lazy bums, and what does BADCo do? They adhere to the stereotype. Well, screw that. I want to see such stereotypes challenged, not adhered to.

    I can tell you I busted my ass in school and did my utmost best in school here in NL at least in part in order to dispel such myths, cos, hey, yo, this Greek girl here is definitely not lazy! Not that the Dutch people noticed (if anything, they resented me for being a hardworkin’ woman), but I don’t care. I know they were in the wrong with assuming us Greeks to be lazy bums. I am not, my friends are not, my family isn’t. We’re all working class. We are not lazy.

    I don’t think that a word like lazy applied to Germans has the same connotation as lazy applied to Southern Europeans like Croats or Greeks. I think it’s that lack of connotations that makes that word so easy and harmless for you to claim, and so fundamentally loathsome for me to want to distance myself from it.

    I don’t think that BADCo can claim the (alleged) innocence of this word the same way you do. If anything, their obligation as artists should be to show exactly why this word, “lazy”, isn’t innocent or harmless.

    There is NO stereotype of “the lazy German”. There IS a stereotype of “the lazy Southern European”. There is also the stereotype of the lazy nigger. So for you to claim that word, used a stick with which to beat all these other people, is decidedly NOT the same thing. This is why BADCo cannot claim the word the way you do, regardless of what they write in their scripts or what Cvejic writes about them.


  8. caribu


    in all honesty, I do think you need a new pair of spectacles.

    You are certainly fighting windmills here. And if there aren’t any, you make them up. What on earth is the connection between a red light and pop culture, pray tell?

    And how are you, for goodness sakes, a victim of this supposedly racist slur? All I’m saying is: You perceive a racist remark, I do not. And so far you have not even started to convince me otherwise.

    And please: Who called BADco. lazy? Was it me? I don’t think so. And why do you think, Tanz im August would not stage the performance you described? Sounds interesting, if a bit dated.

    You also seem to imply that not only did Bojana claim BADco. to be lazy but also that BADco.’s performance was indeed lazy. Or am I misunderstanding this? If so could you please explain what made ‘Changes’ a lazy performance?

    And sure, I concede, it is not the same if I call myself lazy or somebody else does so, be it a ‘nigger’ or somebody from another group of persons subjected to racism. But you are still plain wrong in thinking that using the l-a-z-y-word would always mean catering to white western racist stereotypes. Everybody can say: I enjoy a lazy afternoon. Or: Today I feel so lazy. Or even: I like that lazy son of a bitch. That does not necessarily reconfirm a racist stereotype, even if a ‘Croatian’, a ‘Greek’ or an ‘African-American’ would say it.

    You know why saying ‘Nigger’ is different from saying ‘lazy’? Simply because ‘Nigger’ is a noun used to describe in derogatory ways a group of persons and lazy is an adjective used to describe a state of mind that is not confined to a specific group of people. I’m lazy, you are lazy, he/she is lazy, we are lazy, and they are lazy. Turns out, everybody is lazy – once in a while.

    What you can say about the ‘lazy’ remark, in my opinion, is this: Using ‘lazy’ in a positive way in this context plays (among other things) on the racist notion of the ‘lazy’ southerners. It partly subverts it’s racist implications by giving it a positive, creative meaning.

    You seem to be of the opinion that this didn’t work very well in the case of BADco. Ok. Then, please tell me, why do you think it didn’t succeed? Because saying it was meant as a racist slur simply does not fly in this instance.

    Nichts für ungut


  9. maria technosux

    I am an immigrant, I grew up having to field racist stereotypes, I have a problem with BADCo using such a word. I don’t expect you to understand.

    Maybe if you’d grown up as an immigrant, you’d understand.
    But since you haven’t, you don’t and can’t understand.

    And yes, I do feel victimized by racism. I don’t care how hyperbolic that sounds to YOU. Racism is part and parcel of an immigrant’s life, and yes, I am negatively affected by it. Again, I don’t expect you to understand this.

    All I am saying is that US immigrants cannot claim laziness or even the word lazy the same matter-of-fact/innocent way YOU do. You insist that we can, but that’s simply not true.

    In your reply above, you keep on isolating this word, giving me examples of innocent and matter-of-fact uses of “lazy”. Such innocent uses are irrelevant to the discussion here. It’s in combination with an ethnic/regional identifier (the way BADCo themselves used it in their script) that I addressed the racist connotations of this word. I have already pointed out that saying “lazy German” isn’t the same as saying “lazy Croat”. The latter refers to a racist stereotype, the former doesn’t. It’s true that “nigger” negatively stereotypes to a whole group of people, but so does “lazy Southerner”.

    If YOU can’t understand this, that this word is never innocent or matter-of-fact when applied to US immigrants from the South/Med-ean, then there is nothing I can do to make YOU understand.

    I do suspect that other immigrants from the South might understand what I am talking about. I don’t expect you to, or BADCo, cos BADCo aren’t immigrants either. Cvejic may be a foreigner, certainly in Germany but *more importantly in Croatia too* (no doubt much to her chagrin) but she identifies with the Westerm mainstream. Cvejic will never claim immigrant identity or even stranger-status the way I do (self-consciously).

    I talked with my mother about this “laziness” issue, (my mom, a working class immigrant woman who has never earned above mimimmum-wage all her life), and lo behold, she immediately understood what I was talking about:

    “Yeah, Dutch people think we Southerners are all lazy, because the Dutch people fear that we’re out to steal their jobs. The Dutch people call us lazy so as to suggest that we are unworthy of the jobs we ‘stole’ from them. They also call us lazy to suggest that, once we have a job, we’ll slack and won’t perform well. Calling us lazy is an excuse for the Dutch to deny us foreigners jobs.”.

    I honestly don’t think that BADCo set out to strip the stereotype of the “lazy Southerner” of its racist connotations. BADCo are either too naive, too cynical or too apathetic to do that. BADCo “lazily” affirm the stereotype.

    As for that imaginary James Brown-based performance I fantasized about, I don’t see what’s “dated” about challenging racist stereotypes, last time I checked racism was alive and kicking, ie perfectly contemporary, so why would challenging it not be contemporary?! Now as to why it would never be staged: Like I said before in this thread, Western people don’t go to the theatre to have their racism challenged. Boring audiences out of their seats (passive aggression) is perfectly acceptable in the elite avant garde, addressing audiences as a bunch of racists (open confrontation, aka “scaring” them) is not. This is why a performance that openly challenges racist stereotypes would never be staged: it would be too controversial. Elite avant garde theatre tolerates passive aggression only, never open confrontation. This is why it is OK to affirm racist stereotypes (passive aggression to the point of masochism) but not to challenge them.

    BADCo/Cvejic cater to their audience, they give the audience what the audience wants/expects (passive aggression instead of confrontation). The audience wants to see stereotypes, and BADCo promptly delivers.

    BADCo forgets that there maybe, just maybe, there might be people in the audience OTHER than just Westerners, who might take issue. BADCo forgets that its audience might not be as homogenously Western as BADCo thinks it is.

    BTW, I did not say that the performance itself was lazy. That’s a misunderstanding. I said that the performance was a total utter utter utter BORE. Honestly, I don’t see (and don’t care) what they could do to remedy THAT. Just to humor you: maybe they should leave the performance just the way it is, BO-RING, making their audiences too damn bored to even notice the racism, ahahaha! I certainly am not suggesting subliminal messaging here, cos that would make their boring performance more exciting that it is.

    My comments re: the laziness posturing refer to a specific part of the script/text that Mr “Hahn am Kopf” was narrating from his cushy cushion in the back of the stage (that part of the text was acutally printed in the black/white booklet, which I got but which you said you don’t have), as well as to Cvejic’promo in the Tanz Im August flier. Hope that’s clear now.


  10. maria technosux

    BTW Conrad, check out below just who partook in the CHANGES Impersonation Game!

    Nikolina Pristas / BADco

    impersonated by
    Alice Chauchat,
    Hermann Heisig &
    Jochen Roller <— !!!
    August 26th 2008, Berlin


    I dled and listened to it a bit, but it was boring, so I listened to Leila K on Youtube instead.

    Maybe it was good thing that I, like you, didn’t attend any others, or I might have walked into this and then tossed my cookies, or rather my croissant, on my lap :-X


  11. caribu

    This is my last reply in this discussion.

    You are right in pointing out that I’m not an immigrant. My experience with regards to immigration only covers moving from East Germany to West Germany, a move that might bridge two different societies but no ‘racial’ lines. Earlier on I wrote: “Because if you see this [the racist slur] in it [the play], then it is there, at least for you.” In writing this I was referring to the fact that your background differs from mine. If I read your above comment correctly then you think that not seeing the racist element in the comment about laziness makes me a typical insensitive block-headed western European specimen. Can’t argue with that.

    But to reiterate: I didn’t hear anybody use the phrase ‘lazy croats’ during the performance. Are you saying, that Bojana calls BADco. ‘lazy croats’ in her statement? If she uses this specific phrase, then I would agree that this is a derogatory slur. Kind of hard to believe for me, though.

    IIRC during the performance ‘lazy’ was used to refer to a mode of artistic production necessary to produce ‘good’ art, it was not used to describe a group of people.

    As for you low opinion of theater as a form of critical discourse, I seem to remember Brecht, Handke or Ravenhill, Baldwin among many others. In fact theater has a tradition of talking about problems not enough discussed in society since it’s reception as religious ceremony by the ancient Greeks.

    The performance you describe is dated because it is essentially a ‘Publikumsbeschimpfung’ (Offending the audience). Handke’s version premiered in 1966 and since then offending the audience has been just another tool in the hands of authors and directors. Theater has not been very successful in changing things, but it has a pretty impressive record of talking about things.

    Too bad you didn’t like ‘Changes’. You are certainly right that ‘Changes’ is stretched out. It makes the audience uneasy. This, no doubt in my mind, is intentional. Not only is the content about work but also the form is reminiscent of the drudge of a working day.

    By the way, it is ‘Hahn im Korb’ (cock in the basket) not ‘Hahn am Kopf’ but I like the sound of this.

  12. maria technosux

    Re: This is my last reply in this discussion.

    Sure, naturally you’re bugging out now, since there is no way you can prove to me that calling Croats lazy in front of a German audience is somehow permissible or kosher. It never was and never will be. Calling Croats lazy is plain RACIST. This is the only sensible ethical conclusion.

    Re: “Are you saying, that Bojana calls BADco. ‘lazy croats’ in her statement? If she uses this specific phrase, then I would agree that this is a derogatory slur. Kind of hard to believe for me, though.”

    Oh puhleez, I can’t believe I am reading this! Am I supposed to wait for racists to bluntly self-identify before exposing them? I’m certainly not going to wait for racists to do that.

    Maybe if you’d read a bit of Media Studies, you’d understand that expecting racists to self-identify as such is rather naive, and out of date with their present modus operandi, which is to let others in the media expose them, in order to then claim victim-status over the media-exposure.

    If you’d paid any attention to the mainstreaming of the far-right in Europe (Le Pen, Berlusconi, Pim Fortuyn/Wilders/Verdonk) then you must already know by now that there are two types of mainstream racists: blunt ones and sneaky ones. Cvejic is the sneaky variety, but that doesn’t make her less racist. It simply makes her a sneaky racist. I don’t care if some racist opens their mouth wide or narrow, when it’s racism coming out of that mouth, that’s all I need to know.

    It is highly unlikely that an elite/mainstream racist will ever come out of the closet in a public forum like TiA. That would be professional suicide.

    Example: Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands vehemently denied having anything to do with Le Pen, eventho their anti-immigrant statements were identical, but Pim still insisted he wasn’t racist the way Le Pen was, against all evidence that he really was a Dutch Le Pen clone. Moral of the story: contemporary racists are always in denial about their racism.

    Having the media identify them as racists means that they don’t have to do it themselves. Contemporary mainstream racists will gladly delegate that task to the media, so that the exposed racists can then claim the role of “media scapegoat” (“I am demonized by the media” – actual Pim quote, parroted by his fans after his assassination, suggesting that it was the media, and not Pims own belligerence and dumb refusal of body-guards, that got him killed).

    Actually, it’s the racists who end up demonizing the media this way, suggesting that the media are some kind of vampire, out for the racists’ blood, deliberately hunting down those “poor” racists and shining a public light of shame upon them (awww, those poor racists! How dare we expose and shame the poor bastards! Bad media bad!)

    Add to this all the far-right conspiracies about “leftwing media ownership and control” (in Holland, such conspiracy-theories are now accepted and integrated as mainstream right-wing “opinion”), and you can see why contemporary racists prefer to sit back and be exposed than to expose themselves. Because it allows them to mobilize the media at the same time as they condemn the media.

    Expecting someone like Cvejic to come out of the closet as a racist, well, I’m not gonna hold my breath and wait for her to do that. I think she’s just too sneaky for something that obvious. She’ll never bluntly state her racism, and I don’t expect her to (apparently you do, but that’s your problem, a bomb has to explode in your face before you notice one). I’ll expose her *sneaky* brand of racism.

    Maria Technosux

  13. caribu

    At least you shy away from outright calling me a racist. I guess that’s something. Comments closed on this entry.

  14. caribu

    Hello Maria,

    I reopened comments on this because today I got the chance to review:
    a) the black and white booklet in Croatian and English about the ‘Changes’: it contains no text by Bojana Cvejic
    b) the ‘tanz im august’ handout in German: it contains no text by Bojana Cvejic
    c) the little booklet with a yellow cover about BADco: it does contain a text by Bojana Cvejic, however the word ‘lazy’ or any of its synonyms are not mentioned in it.

    The only text I could find that actually talks about ‘laziness’ is a text by Mladen Stilinović which is quoted in the aforementioned bilingual b/w booklet.

    This review forces me to believe that there is no quote from Bojana Cvejic about BADco. being lazy. Which would mean that we’ve been engaging in a quite quichottic debate (something I already suspected earlier…)

    There is of course the possibility that there were even more handouts at the performance, which I couldn’t get my hands on right now and one of which contains the quote we’ve been discussing. If so, could you quote it here so I can read it too? That would be helpful and at this stage rather necessary.

  15. maria_technosux

    I haven’t seen the yellow booklet. Now you’ve got the upper-hand, cos now you have a piece of info I don’t have! ahahaha!

    Like I said before, I don’t care if Cvejic states her support of BADco’s laziness posturing forthright/black-on-white or whether she kinda-sorta alludes to it. Her manner of writing is pomo thru and thru, and do these pomos EVER say anything outright, in plain language? The pomo lingo that Cvejic writes in is never clear-cut and never will be.

    But: that doesn’t mean she isn’t saying things! I, for one, don’t expect her to suddenly change her pomo-blah based modus operandi and say: “Hurrah, finally a group of Croats who get up onstage in front of the Germans and call themselves lazy! I’ve been waiting to see something like this my whole life! Way to go girls+guy!”. Bojana thinks she’s too smart for normal language. But all it takes is a little bit of research to “get” just what she’s “getting” at.

    The title of the BADco piece (Changes) as well as the subject of laziness, are not their own. Cvejic handed them the rope by which they hang themselves. Let me show you.

    I have done some research and reading and I can tell you that the title, (Changes), the “work-in-progress” designation, and the laziness posturing, were ALL lifted from a Cvejic essay that she wrote back in 2005 titled “collectivity? you mean collaboration”:


    Here is the segment that BADco got their title from:

    Take one of those imperatives of Living Theatre, like “Change is the natural state of being”, strip it from its 1960s-anarchist vogue, and what you get is a slogan “free, different, creative”, who? The sovereign individual chooser nowadays: the author, the programmer, the spectator.

    Later in the same essay, Cvejic rambles on and on about the term work-in-progress, so it’s safe to assume that BADco added the work-in-progress to their piece, because of what they read about the term in this same essay:

    The only tactic of resisting the institutional market for the freelance artist is to become the mediating machine him/herself, producing productivity and a self-governed networking. His/her work shifts to a multiplication of activities, contacts, formats of work, collaboration and presentation, allowing for the work-in-progress character to take on almost his/her entire opus, a working without work.

    Bojana is saying here that the work-in-progress appelation idicates a “working without work”. Hardly a coincidence that BADco would use this next to the Changes title. The “working without work” already bodes well for laziness, but Cvejic gets even bolder than this in another part of the essay.

    Here is the part that BADco got the laziness-posturing from:

    Whether operated by state- or private-funded apparatuses or hacked by a free entrepreneurial self of the author, the artistic community likens a community without project and end-product, communauté desœuvrée, where desœuvrement (inoperativess and idleness) should be understood in politico-ethical terms.

    As you can see, Bojana Cvejic is using a bunch of different synonyms, but she is talking about the same thing. Once again, Cvejic is too smart and too pomo to use normal words like “laziness”, so she replaces this simple word with pompous/pomo sounding synonyms, like “inoperativess”, “idleness”, and some French word I can’t even pronounce (dez-oof-rah-man = a man with no eggs/no balls?).

    Like I said: Cvejic herself handed BADco the rope (laziness, changes, work-in-progress) with which to hang themselves. She gave them just enough rope to do so.

    Cvejic herself is the one telling BADco that it’s cool to be lazy (or that it’s “politico-ethical”, whatever the hell that means, I’m guessing it’s pomo-blah for cool).

    And again: this is a Serb telling Croats it’s cool to be lazy, they make a performance acting accordingly, then praising them for it in front of a German audience. This is racist. The more I realized Cvejic’s sheer influence on BADco the more I believe it is racist.

    Another thing: Cvejic will never qualify that outright delusional statement in the Tanz im August BADco promo about “the new fetishization of labour” (=?! do you have a clue as to what she’s talking about?!), which according to her plagues the ENTIRE “political scene in Europe”… that’s right, Bojana goes for the broad stroke here, for she claims that the ENTIRE, the WHOLE political spectrum, left to right, is plagued by this supposed “fetishization of labour”.

    This is almost as stupid as that one promo for a workshop that Cvejic had posted on the PAF list (I’m sure you read this) in which she claimed that deconstruction was now dead, and was replaced by Massumi’s Affect. Sure, Massumi took the performance business like storm, and was turned into a kind of performance-business-guru. But to claim that the Massumi hype somehow killed decon? Ridiculous.

    Pomos like Cvejic are obsessed with the race for the ever new, ever bold, and this obsession leads Cvejic to make such ridiculous statements. But because Cvejic’s writings are accepted at face-value (since she’s Ritsema’s girlfriend, and Samalon’s friend, etc etc, cronyism ad infinitum), and because everyone is so intimidated by her pomo manner of writing, no one ever takes the time to call Bojana Cvejic on her shit. As a Derrida fanatic, her manner of writing will only get more and more hazy and unreadable, and more intimidating, I might add.

    But not to worry. Just get a copy of Bourdieu’s Distinction and read the anti-Derrida rant in the last few pages, you’ll ROTFL. Every time I get intimidated by pomo-lingo, all I have to do is read this again and I no longer feel intimidated. This, and Alan Sokal, of course!

    This “fetishization of labour” concoction is Bojana collaging at random with half-understood (wait, make that: not understood) Marxist terminology. If there was a babblefish engine for Marxist terms, these are the kinds of randomized combinations of words it would spit out (Bojana = Human Babblefish).

    I am sure that if I were to corner her about this (oh the thrill!) Cvejic wouldn’t be able to give a single example of this alleged fetishization of labour happening ANYWHERE at all in Europe.

    All of this, and you are still calling ME the quichottic one? Bojana is the one you fire that one at, since she’s the one setting up political straw-men here, straw-men she can then move in to knock down by offering BADco up as an alternative practice – “alternative” my arse, laziness posturing goes all the way back to the bohos, villagers, hippies, beats, badco, bojana, the list goes on, but more on that in my own piece, in which I quote Stephen Duncombe’s highly lucid and succint history of the laziness posturing of every damn avant garde since Theophile Gautier.

    But of course, no one ever asks Cvejic to qualify her statements providing actual evidence to back up her claims. Everyone is too intimidated by Cvejic’s pomo-speak to demand a mere clarification or single piece of evidence from that woman.

    But enough about that moron, I kick her ass quite thoroughly in my own piece, so let’s move on to something more glaring about Badco’s booklet (the black/white one).

    Now that you’ve read the booklet, let me first start by asking you a question about the Marx quote (the one I initially mentioned way way way above in this thread):

    1) what do you think of this quote (sloganeering with Marx)?

    2) according to this page
    (can I use HTML here BTW?) the Marx quote is a fake. How do you feel about this? (sloganeering with a FAKE Marx quote, aka putting things in the mouth of a dead person that this person hasn’t even said?)

    Now, I must say that when I first saw this quote in the BADco booklet, I immediately considered the possibility that it was fake. It seemed highly unlikely to me, who has actually read a bit or Marx, that Marx would ever say such a thing about work. Labour/work, after all, is an ontological necessity in Marxism. Marx never advocated a total absurdity like labour-free society. He did say that work, under capitalist conditions, led to alienation. But to call it a disease? I suspected that this was a fake, and lo behold it was. I don’t like the fact that such utter nonsense is attributed to Marx. I know that pomos think it’s good clean fun. Example: I have a pomo essay here about Ghandi, included in a Post-Colonial Studies reader. in which the writer pretends that Ghandi is still alive, attributing all sorts of nonsense to this “living Ghandi” character. I have a huge problem with pomos pulling such essayistic pranks.

    In my own essay on BADco, which I have just written, I turn the tables on them and put all kinds of fake statements in their mouths. Let’s see how they like it (assuming they read it, which I don’t think they will)

    3) Is this sloganeering with a fake Marx quote acceptable just because it’s another artist, Mladen Stilinovic, and not BADco themselves saying/doing these things? Is Goran justified just because he is speaking through Stilinovic, appropriating what he said before him? I think it’s just a performative “METOO!”

    To give you an example of what I mean: In the Netherlands, a mainstream journalist can lose his job for calling George W. Bush an equal to Hitler in a piece, whether that’s a column, an opinion piece, a letter or whatever.

    However (this IMO is the hypocrisy of the Dutch press) it is acceptable to quote Gore Vidal saying the same thing: “Gore Vidal says that GWB is equal to Hitler” <— why is this acceptable instead of a plain statement “GWB is a present day Hitler”. Why is it OK for me to state my opinion about GWB via Gore Vidal, and not via, well, myself?

    Do I now have to wait for Gore Vidal every time to say something first about somebody, before stating my own opinion on the person or persons I wish to talk about?

    Maria Technosux

  16. maria_technosux

    A German reviewer writes:


    Wie leer und unsinnlich der sogenannte “Konzept”-Tanz geworden ist, zeigte eine Gruppe aus Zagreb, BADco. In “Changes” demonstrieren fünf junge Frauen mit in sich kreisenden, ständig wiederholten Bewegungsformeln zu Texten über John Cage den nicht nur tänzerischen Stillstand.


    See, I’m not the only one who thought it was a borefest. It was indeed “empty and nonsensical”, with only a racist stereotype to fill in the void.

    I don’t quite understand this part: “fünf junge Frauen demonstrieren …den nicht nur tänzerischen Stillstand”… “Five women demonstrate a standstill that isn’t merely related to the dance”… hmmm… I think he’s trying to say that conceptual dance itself is at a standstill, a deadlock, an impasse. Or, as I put it, it’s STALE.


  17. caribu

    Hallo Maria,

    I censored your last post. This does not work for me any longer. This is not a discussion, this is some kind of platform for a war you are waging. I’m not interested in it.

    I don’t know whether BADco. still reads the thread, but Sergej wrote me a quick note after I told him that I wrote this review. That was before you found it. In addition Sergej didn’t sent me anything, but my roommate had those booklets stashed, I only recently found out.

    Nonetheless, sorry but this last (and now invisible) post of yours crosses the line. I wasn’t really thrilled about your style of discussion to begin with and warned you about it. This is my blog, in using it I expect you to follow netiquette at least to some degree.

    as you know I have not been that strict about it, and you’ve already done your share of flaming, but enough is enough.

    I have no idea why this is so important to you that you write so much text about it. And I do admit that I like your bellingerent style but for your texts to remain interesting there would have to be an issue.

    And poor me can’t find any issue here any longer. In fact issues have evaporated for some time if you ask me. So if you want to continue this, you can mail me, even so I don’t have a lot to say about these ‘issues’ of laziness and evilness.

    Take care


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