Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Faki Day 1: Sexual Violence and Capitalism

It's the second day, and residents flit around in a banal way, mingling with the over-active dogs and chewing on unassuming breakfasts among the-night-before's lingering smell of cigarettes and the blast of 90's pop from the radio. So much has happened but, in true casual contradictory Croatian style, it feels like it could also be nothing. We're all deeply involved, in a superficial way, in the process of unpacking and simultaneous forgetting.

If that sounds confused, then that's not because of yesterday's shows, which were nothing if not bang on point. Opening the festival, Jirjirak, a group from Tehran, Iran, offered Braille, a meditation on a rape event, seen through the perspectives of victim and society (including the perpetrator).

Following this, Serbian choreographer Dušan Murić's Doći će partizani opet (roughly: The Partizans Will Come Again) offers an eclectic anti-capitalist riff, billed as "a threat - directed towards those who make life unbearable". 

Both shows provided plenty of food for thought, as the ensuing conversation with fellow critic Monika Jašinskaitė shows.

Richard Pettifer: What’s your impression of the Faki Festival and the place, the former medical factory Medika

Monika Jašinskaitė: My first interest in art came of an experience in Vilnius, Uzupis Republic, and one of the most important features of this republic was a squat on a riverside, where artists started to live in early 90s and in 1997 opened a gallery called Gallera there. Later it got European funding and became an Uzupis Art Incubator. It changed. For me, when I come here to AKC Medika, I come back to a world that’s already gone. It gives an opportunity to rethink the world I live in now.

Pettifer: I have been coming here 5 years now, and it's become boring for me, in a good way. Like, I do not have to do so much of the labour involved with integration anymore. And what I like about this festival is they give you what you need - you need a place to live, you need food. It doesn't give you extra. A lot of situations now for artists are giving you what you don't need, and they don't give you what you do need. So they say "ok, you come to this festival, we give you a brand on our CV, we give you advertising, it's good for your career", and etc, but they don't feed you. You know?

Jašinskaitė: (Laughs) Yeah, I understand. That's very funny to think about.


Pettifer: I thought it was an amazing performance from Darya Nazari The gender politics was interesting. She plays the victim in this performance, one actor playing her husband (Mehdi Sheikhvand) and another, the perpetrator.

Jašinskaitė: But one of the two male characters is also a victim’s story – how a victim becomes an aggressor.

Pettifer: But this I feel is really problematic, when you start to talk in this way, “oh, the rapist is also a victim, we should see his point of view”. You can do it, in a way, but it’s dangerous. The perspectives are not equal.

Jašinskaitė: But that is what I like in this performance – that they are really trying to touch the most sensitive areas of this problem – being an aggressor but being a victim at the same time, it’s very paradoxical. In Lithuania it works. In Lithuania we have one word for the rape of a woman and the violence of a society - it is prievartavimas. So all people in society experience violence at the same level. Of course this is in a way a sad thing, but on the other hand, it gives me a hope, an idea, of how the violence against women’s bodies can be stopped. That it may be stopped if the violence in men’s world can be smaller.

Photo: Ivan Marenic

Pettifer: I just don’t think it’s equal. I agree that it’s good to think about why people become rapists, I just think being a rapist and raped is totally different. When you equate them, it’s dangerous.

Jašinskaitė: In the Soviet Union, we had a lot of women who were very 'equal' to men, the builders for example. Many women were well fit, they were doing their work, and then they were coming home and doing the housework. So this is the image of Soviet equality.