Michaela Pašteková heads Kiosk Festival in Žilina, Slovakia, together with Martin Krištof.
This interview was conducted on the seating bank of Mestská krytá plaváreň Žilina (Indoor Swimming Pool Žilina), apparently the first Olympic swimming pool of then-Czechoslovakia, approximately 30 minutes before the festival finishes. As we witnessed the final performance of the festival, the durational Dead in the Pool by Tereza Sikorová & Tomáš Moravanský (CZ), we reviewed the 4 days of the festival this year, what just happened, and the festival theme of ‘After Human’.
Richard Pettifer: How did the week go? How are you feeling?
Michaela Pašteková: Tired! And still deeply involved in the festival. I’m waiting for the time when I will be able to step out, and reflect. But the festival will be finished in 30 minutes. Then, I will see how I really feel.
So you’re inside the world of the festival still… is it a nice world to be in?
Yes. I’m doing this festival for the fifth time, it’s sometimes stressful but filled with different emotions. You see friends, there are a lot of hugs and kisses, then you have to make hard organisational things, then sometimes you are angry with your colleagues, and so on. So I leave with all sorts of emotions. Every year I say “this is my last year”, but on the last day I realise, this is the work that I love. Some years on the last show, I start crying with a mix of sadness and happiness. When I see how people are happy and they have fun, in the end, I say “ok, let’s do it again next year”.
I guess it’s very intense?
Actually we are working for the whole year, on different things – and July is very intense. The last years I learned that in the evenings I have to dance a little or have a drink. There has to be time to have some talks with artists and people around the festival, it’s really ok to be ‘one of them’ in the night. We really do everything from dramaturgy to production, buying food for technicians – we are not a hierarchical institution, when someone needs help, we do this or that. Because of that, it’s so intense. You have to be multitasking.
What’s the theme of the festival?
We didn’t want to call it ‘Posthuman’. We didn’t want to work with this field of theory. The theme is in a process of coming to mind over the year – it begins when we are choosing the performance and pieces, looking to see if there is some connection between them or common topic. Sometimes, there are things that directly influence the theme of the festival – maybe 3 years ago, one of our buildings burned down, and it was one of the biggest dance platforms. It was a big disruption to our plans. So we switched the theme 2 months before the festival to ‘Burnout’ – it was a reference to this fire, and also physical or mental burnout. This After Human – it started following this year’s invasion by russia. Somehow there was a connection to this war – we saw the theme from another perspective. We didn’t want to make it post-apocalyptic (maybe it looked like that because of the weather during the festival!), but a certain pessimism was probably unavoidable – wouldn't the world actually be a better place without us? The theme was also inspired by the fact that some pieces and performances work with artificial intelligence or some non-human things, and start to eliminate the human. And we adapted also to these theatrical things, and we started to think, if theatre can exist without the human, when no-one is looking – and if something like performance can exist without human touch and contact. It’s not a new topic – but it’s always present in art and theatre in some way.