Mariana Valencia: Notes on “Yugoslavia”
October 4, 2017
My current sounding boards: Transmission, Translation, Relation, Proximity and Blend.
In Yugoslavia, I arrive at these themes through differently angled anecdotal, historical, whimsical and observational texts. Some of these expressions are unspoken and left to my physical body through which I conjure dance — my body is left to grapple with its physicality and being witnessed. In Yugoslavia, I look to my Polish stepfather’s personal history against the Socialist, Pan-Slavic and Eastern European history of ex-Yugoslavia, next to my matter of fact ideology surrounding death, grief, and life after “life’s event”. One provocation is that this research— this work on life and it’s passing— is also bound to my previous and continual research on the kinship between bodies dying of AIDS and the folklore of vampires. My own Brownness, otherness, and peripheral position next to these “problematic bodies” make them kin to my kin. I relate to my stepfather’s Polishness throughout my upbringing, he’s raised me culturally half-Polish, I’m attuned to his culture yet unbound to him by blood. From this notion comes the question: What are we if we are together but not related? Do we transmit ourselves to each other?
I arrive at some answers through angles that encircle the subject, each time gathering more content, each time shifting the focus. My acquisition repeats itself, it takes up more ground: who transmits, what do we gain and how do we learn when we are made to live in proximity to one another? He has transmitted himself to me and I have transmitted myself to him.
In Yugoslavia I propose a landscape of histories that geography links together through my perception of these subjects. I uphold a quote from the documentary film essay by Marta Popivoda, entitled Yugoslavia: How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body. In the film she says, “Memory is never an instrument for surveying the past, it is an instrument for surveying the theater of the past”. The theater of my past plays itself out in fragments in my performance.
I quote my peers in this work as I do in many of my works, but the way that I’ve used references is new here. As per the suggestion of my peer and artist Gordon Hall, I’ve decided to quote and name the peers in the performance and I use the reference section in the performance program as an index of people I’ve cited in the work who are not my peers; see reference guide below.
“I Love Dick“, a book by Chris Kraus (2006).
“Tonight Will Be Fine“, a song by Leonard Cohen (1969).
“Yugoslavia: How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body“, a film by Marta Popivoda (2013).
The images arranged here are a dear collection that stand alongside many other photographs that I took during my visit to Serbia and Macedonia. Through these images I locate narrative structure and latent embodiments of my first experience in the Second World.
– Mariana Valencia
Mariana Valencia’s latest work, Yugoslavia, premieres on a shared evening with Jasmine Hearn’s shook October 12-14. Tickets available here.
Images courtesy of Mariana Valencia.