RE// MIX – remix as a concept comes from the field of music. More than an interpretation of an existing piece, it may nevertheless contain fragments of the original, but such samples function as quotations. A remix is a new piece, which engages with the original through its form or content, entering into dialogue with it, nostalgically recalling it or finding in it new meanings.
The RE// MIX cycle, produced over 2010–2014 by Komuna//Warszawa, involved new interpretations of classics of avant-garde theatre and dance, but also reached into the fields of film and literature. These works constitute a kind of a cannon, defining tastes and styles, serving as inspiration or points of reference for contemporary artists invited to participate in the RE// MIX project. The RE// MIX cycle comprised the creation of over 30 performances by recognised artists or their young, promising colleagues, working in the field of interdisciplinary, experimental theatre that draws on physical theatre, dance, performance and visual art, and social engagement. Among the authors of the remixed works are Marina Abramović, The Wooster Group, Pina Bausch, Trisha Brown, Oskar Schlemmer, Yvonne Rainer, Conrad Drzewiecki, John Cage, Laurie Anderson, Jerzy Grotowski, Akademia Ruchu, Andrzej Żuławski, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Jérôme Bel, Robert Wilson, Carolee Schneemann, Fluxus, Bertolt Brecht, Dario Fo, Merce Cunningham, Tadeusz Kantor, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and many others.
The RE// MIX cycle attracted extremely favourable reviews with individual performances shown at a number of festivals around Poland and abroad. It has been the subject of two academic theses and a book, and has been recognised as the event of the year in Polish theatre by the country’s leading critics.
The project was initiated and curated by Tomasz Plata.
In 2012 the following remixes will took place:
April 14 – Leszek Bzdyl: Henryk Tomaszewski
June 9-10 – Ramona Nagabczyńska: Trisha Brown
June 23-24 – Alex Baczynski-Jenkins: Oscar Schlemmer
July – Akademia Ruchu: John Cage
September 8-9 – Weronika Szczawińska: Lidia Zamkow
October 13 – Wojtek Ziemilski: Laurie Anderson
October 20-21 – Iza Szostak: Merce Cunningham
October 27-28 – Mikołaj Mikołajczyk: Henryk Tomaszewski
November 17-18 – Monika Strzępka & Paweł Demirski: Dario Fo
December 9 – Strefa Ciszy Theatre: Akademia Ruchu
Several years back, New York’s famous The Wooster Group produced „The Poor Theatre”, a re-production of „Akropolis,” a classic performance by Jerzy Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium. Wojtek Ziemilski goes a few steps further. Or rather, the plays with the concepts of reproduction and original. On the stage, a group of three children and three adults keep repeating a short fragment of „Akropolis” by Stanisław Wyspiański. The children, guided by adults, slowly enter their cultural roles. Repetition as the sole way to acculturation?
„The Weavers,” directed by Frank Castorf, was one of those German performances that taught Polish theatre anew what it means to demonstrate social engagement on the stage. Double-edged, ruthless towards all the actors of the political conflict, undermining the simple leftist belief in revolution – it was also an expression of attachment to subversive irony, anti-systemic artistic gestures. Łukasz Chotkowski checked the myth of „The Weavers” in an extensive, two-channelled video installation, realised in the streets of Berlin and Warsaw.
La Fura Dels Baus have performed in Poland several times, on each occasion causing a scandal, changing local ideas of what is permissible in theatre and at the same time provoking enthusiasm and gaining faithful fans – as if a revolutionary rock band. In 1996 the Catalan ensemble came to the „Malta” festival in Poznan with „M.T.M.”. The performance awoke fear, but also drew one in, it was addictive. Among those addicted was Marcin Liber – the inspiration of La Fura is recognisable in his works.
komuna//warszawa, with its remix of Akademia Ruchu’s „Kartagina” („Carthage”) wants to finally close the original performance of 1986. But is this possible? You can cover a city and its fields in salt, so that nothing grows there again. But how does one create „mental salt”?
In November 2010, komuna// warszawa produced a performative reading of a forgotten agitprop piece by Vladimir Mayakovski, „October Radio”, at the invitation of the theatre critic Roman Pawłowski. The result was interesting enough to continue work on the text. In the new, extended version, Roman Pawłowski made his stage debut (in the roles of Mayakovski and The Critic). In its re// mix, komuna// warszawa referred to the tradition of revolutionary art and to the „new media” as conduit for change.
Another RE// MIX production, by the Marcin Cecko / Krzysztof Garbaczewski duo, known for the much-discussed performance by Nowy Teatr, „Sexual Life of Savages”. The remix „Miron Be.” is the beginning of work on a new theatre project with Miron Białoszewski as its protagonist.
The remix of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreography. Kaya Kołodziejczyk, a graduate of one of the most famous schools of contemporary dance, P.A.R.T.S., was a dancer of ATDK’s ensemble, Rosas, until 2009. This close and personal experience allows her for a different view of de Keersmaeker, an icon of choreography.
How to make a remix of the work of a person one is familiar with, but has not got to know over all those years. How to pass on to others a language that the dancer has come to accept as their own in the course of work on performance arts and contemporary dance? How to impose order on chaos?
The presence and reception of Tadeusz Kantor’s work in Poland applies almost exclusively to his theatre and visual works. One must bear in mind, however, that Kantor also created an exceptionally interesting rich and interesting cosmos of texts, which create a fascinating world around each of his performances, focusing on the theme or the „first principle” of each performance. It is today hard to tell what was the basis for the creation of the rest: the text or the performance. It is, however, worth bearing in mind that both the form of the manifesto and of the diary are key references in Kantor’s work.
Selected catchwords from the lexicon of Yvonne Rainer’s work, as seen and interpreter by Weronika Pelczyńska. Yvonne Rainer (born in San Francisco on 24 November 1934) is an American dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and writer. Her work is classified as minimalist and experimental. She was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater (1962) and improvisation group Grand Union (1970).
„I’ve got my favourites among Pina Bausch’s performances. I saw Cafe Müller for the first time almost 30 years ago. Alongside Bandoneon, Waltzer and Nelken, it is one of the performances I’ve seen the most of. Kantor, Pina Bausch are my most personal and emotional inspirations. I give in to them without analysis or reflection. Making the remix I looked for suspect bits of my performances, suspect for their open and shameless fascination with Pina Bausch. It is a kind of an examination of conscience, a reckoning of sins I am proud of.”
REMIXES. WHAT ARE THEY? WHAT ARE THEY FOR?
One could probably try and create a theory for it. The very concept of the remix opens up many possibilities. The remix is a repetition of a pre-existing original, but a repetition that introduces changes to the original, sometimes far-reaching changes. Deleuze and his theories of repetition and difference comes to mind. The association would not be revelatory, but it would be meaningful and justified. Deleuze has been a point of reference, directly or indirectly, for whole swathes of performance and theatre artists, who have taken an interest in the problems of identity or presence in recent years, while using the strategies of quotation, copy, footnote. As part of the RE// MIX cycle we recalled several of them. For example, The Wooster Group, postmodernists par excellence, who have probably remixed everything: from Shakespeare to Grotowski. At komuna they were remixed themselves – by Wojtek Ziemilski in the opening remix Poor Theatre.
But this cycle was not about theorising. I get the impression that komuna// warszawa is not about theory, but about practice. The komuna has for a long time existed in accordance with the healthy Marxist conviction that base is more important than superstructure, action than rationalisation. Or, at least: theory must follow practice, not the other way round. The idea for the cycle RE//MIX came from the will to resolve a very specific problem. The opening question was: how to make the most interesting Polish artists, operating on the borderlines of theatre, visual arts, performance art and social activism, to meet in one space, work together? Without false modesty: how to create a new milieu? Or, perhaps, to state that a new milieu has already emerged, but as yet insufficiently noticed.
More than ten artists got an offer from komuna: create a brief performance in our space, in which you can refer to a past performance of particular importance to you. At the beginning we selected both the artists to invite and “remixed” pieces together in order to create a sort of a lexicon or a memoir. It was to be a list of exceptional theatrical experiences, not too distant in time, not always recognised by a wide audience, but which we remember well and which somehow define our sensibilities. In other words, it was to be a selection of points of reference. We knew straightaway that it must include The Wooster Group, Akademia Ruchu, La Fura dels Baus, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Pina Bausch. We also wrote down the names of Xavier Le Roy, Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainment, Jérôme Bel. In time the Polish artists Tadeusz Kantor and Miron Białoszewski were added to the list. The project was also expanded to include music performances.
Was the project successful? Did it uncover the potential of a new artistic circle? Did it really practical? I am not clear on that, it would be perhaps premature to judge. (…) Can one build an artistic circle around purely aesthetic choices? Do several artists who admit to fascination with Forced Entertainment or Xavier Le Roy really have anything in common? Is there no risk that, if one digs deeper, they will turn out to have more differences than similarities? Does not creating an artistic circle another dimension: a commonality of ideas, not just aesthetic, but also political, social, generally human?
As has been said, it perfectly fits komuna’s logic that such questions emerge in action, not before it. What has been done – more than ten brief performances and events (…) with more to come soon. The time to reflect on this. Not for the first time in komuna’s history, the motivation to work was the desire for common, group action. Not for the first time in komuna’s history this experience forces further thinking, digging, theorising.