The Performing Solidarity Project
Extraordinarily Intolerable is combination of artistic responses to acts of solidarity in defence of the fundamental human rights worldwide, woven together by a contemplative performance practice, exhibited in diverse rooms.
The Performing Solidarity Project is a currently developing interdisciplinary and trans disciplinary project in the intersection between performance art and social activism.
Under the umbrella term “The Performing Solidarity Project” the project shelters multiple aspects and a collection of artistic responses on the topic of human prosocial behaviour, including forms of solidarity and activism. In this framework the project sheds light on two real world events in which solidarity has developed out of human prosocial behaviour: the rescue mission of heroic proportions after the architectural incident of Rana Plaza, in which Bangladeshi volunteers helped professional soldiers in the rescue of 4000 workers of the garment factory who produced clothes for renown European and American fashion brands; and the case of legally prosecuted acts of solidarity in the context of the immigration crisis at the Mediterranean Sea, the cases known as “crimes of solidarity”, with countless of refugees drowning at the maritime borders between geographical Europe and Northern African countries, amongst others.
The project “contemplates” such real world events through publications, and scientific research papers with political, sociological, and psychological content, which shed light on the question of prosocial human behaviour, and empathy. Inspired by the work of the American artist Martha Rosler,whose photographic art reflects the conflictive relationship between worlds that live in commodity and worlds that are destroyed by it, the project “contemplates” real world events in which acts of solidarity reflect the difference between the east and west, between developed and underdeveloped societies, between safety, conformities and commodities of the protected civilised human, and the risks and suffering of the people on the move and looking for a shelter in such by protection civilised world.
In this context of how art reflects the actual socio-political problem the project aims to develop (a series of) performative work(s) of art in forms of performances and installations that don’t necessarily consist in reflecting but rather propose a performance practice between art and prosocial vision. Part of our production plan is to design a publication, which doesn’t only contain documentation about the work but is a form of performance writing that has the ability to inspire the element of prosocial human behaviour and active audience participation. The purpose of the publication is meant to share ideas and conceptual approaches in performance on how a performance project of this nature can bridge aesthetics with a prosocial vision.
In line to this we are looking to understand the strategy. The “Performing Solidarity Project “is our way to it.
“We live in a time when people are being criminalised for helping those in need. In many parts of the world,
including in Europe, assisting undocumented migrants is a criminal offence, and the law fails to clearly articu-
late humanitarian exceptions. This is, at times, part of a more general trend of increased pressure on civil
society, like in Hungary, where the law known as “Stop Soros” has been issued along with other measures
aimed at obstructing the work of human rights organisations. But it goes well beyond that.
The countless people who act to defend the rights of people on the move often come from very different
backgrounds. Many of them decided to act out of solidarity and humanity, as a spontaneous reaction to the
suffering and despair of newcomers. Some also see their actions as a way to alleviate the indifference or cyn-
icism of public authorities. They give tea and biscuits to a family sleeping in their street. They give them shel-
ter for a night. They help them charge their phone. They give them a ride on a very cold day. They try to
grasp their own country’s immigration law to help them seek asylum.
For doing so, many face intimidation, threats, arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment. Some human rights
defenders are being charged with smuggling or human trafficking after saving the lives of migrants at sea or
at the border, and bringing them to a safe place. The actions of NGOs rescuing migrants at sea have been
obstructed in plenty of ways, including attacks by extremists, port authorities seizing their ships, and smug-
gling charges brought against their staff. Helena Maleno, a Spanish activist, has been judicially harassed be-
cause of phone calls she made to request assistance for drifting vessels off the coast of Morocco.”
These acts of solidarity are just a few amongst countless of other examples that have developed in defence
of fundamental human rights. They are manifestations of human prosocial behaviour, a behaviour that is ori-
ented towards supporting, helping, assisting and caring for the other human being in times of distress.
“Feeding people who are hungry has always been the fundamental gesture of solidarity. It is the basis for a
community of equals”. Therefore “punishing solidarity or impeding its exercise, regardless of the reason for
it, endangers the principles and values of humanity and civility”. Facing such impediments of solidarity and
thus prosocial human behaviour same old questions emerge. How to act? What to do? How to behave?
The politics of fear keeps reaching into the very essence of what it means to be human. Turning acts of soli-
darity into legally prosecuted forms of humanitarianism and prosocial behaviour we began to face a humani-
tarian crisis, which challenges the fundamental idea of what does it mean to be human in the face of today.
Can practices of performing arts contribute to develop a sense of prosocial behaviour? Is solidarity a value or
virtue that can or needs to be practiced? How to develop a sense of practicing prosocial behaviour in the
frame of performing arts?
The Performing Solidarity Project is an ongoing interdisciplinary project that acts as a form of gathering for collective processes in which art making, process and research based artistic practice intersects with performance activism.
The PS Project shelters a collection of multiple artistic responses on the the subject of criminalization of solidarity and forms activism in defense of human rights.
In its essence The Performing Solidarity Project on one hand acts in support of sociopolitical activism in defense of human rights yet on the other hand it represents a continuous engagement in developing works of art in support of tolerance, patience, solidarity, humanity and civility.
The mission of the project is to develop a working group of interdisciplinary artist who collaborate in the development of the artistic practice. Using principles or performance art, dance, performative writing, improvisation, choreography, somatic and movement practices we aim to develop works of art that act as activators of the participatory body in performance art.
Our inspiration stems in the idea of activated spectatorship which moves from being a passive recipient of the art work into a participant in diverse aspects, from imagination to actual physical engagement.
1. Performance creation process
- Duration: March to June 2019.
- Performance strategy development.
- Toihaus Theater, 14 and 15 June 2019.
- Participation at the tanz_house Herbst 2019, on 30 and 31 of October.
INFLUX – Netzwerk für Tanz, Theater und Performance
Toihaus Theater Salzburg
Tomaž Simatović (1978) is a Slovenian-born choreographer, dancer, and performance artist based in Salz-
burg Austria. He is developing his work interdisciplinary through performance, dance, choreography, re-
search, teaching and writing. His aesthetic is conceptual and performative with an activistic attitude, in the
intersection between movement art, live art and performance art, in conventional and unconventional spa-
ces. Tomaž graduated in dance at SEAD Salzburg, and gained his MA degree in choreography at the ArtEZ
institute of the arts (NL). Since 2008 Tomaž is a member of tanz_house Salzburg. He has experience in curat-
ing festivals and workshops (Momentum Festival, Dance Campus Izola, and tanz_house festival “Out Of
Nothing” 2014). From 2011-2018 he has taught contemporary dance technique at the Mozarteum/Carl-
Orff-Institute. As a guest artist and teacher Tomaž taught dance and choreography also at the Falmouth
University in UK, Tanzlabor_21 Frankfurt am Main, Dance academy Ljubljana, China Normal University
Guangdong, and University of New Mexico Albuquerque, amongst others. In 2013 and 2015 he was award-
ed with wild card scholarship from Jardin D ́Europe/danceWEB and Life Long Burning Program for his re-
search and participation at the E.XE.RCE MA program for choreography at the I.CI – Centre Choreo-
graphique National de Montpellier. Since 2016 Tomaž collaborates intensely with Georg Blaschke/M.A.P.
Vienna. In Salzburg Tomaž worked professionally with editta braun company, Mirjam Klebel, Hubert Lepka,
Susan Quinn, Beda Percht, ARGEkultur, Toihaus Salzburg, Festspiele Salzburg, and SEAD. His work has
been financially supported by Land Salzburg, Salzburg Stadt, BKA, and Erste Sparkasse Kulturfonds. In 2018
he has been awarded with the prestigious scholarship for artist support from Land Salzburg,
“Jahresstipendium” for the development of the participatory project Participatorium. His most important
works are The Whirlwind Chaser (2008), Islands in the Fog (2010), Episodes (2011), The Night Keeps Us
Calm (2011), The Entertainer (2012), Pulse (2014), Paradise on Stage (2014), “The Way You Touched Me
Tonight” (2017), Back to the Beautiful (2017), “Suddenly the floor was not there” (2018).
Nayana Keshava Bhat, born in 1985, is a contemporary dancer/choreographer. Born and raised in India,
Nayana is based and works in Salzburg, Austria, where she creates her choreographic works and teaches var-
ious classes and workshops. In 2015, Nayana premiered her first independent choreographic production “A
Duet. Ein Solo.”, co- produced by ARGEkultur. In 2017, Nayana started the artist collective “INFLUX – Net-
work for Dance, Theatre and Performance”, to continue her engagement with artistic work. Nayana has worked with two Indian dance companies as well as an independent artist while performing at various venues and festivals across India and Europe. Her choreographic works
have been presented at Tanz_house Festival, New Faces New Dances Festival, Open Mind Festival and
Sommerszene festival. She is trained in Bharatanatyam and graduated from Salzburg Experimental Academy
of Dance (SEAD) with a post-graduate certification in choreography in 2013. Nayana is a qualified journalist
and has also worked with various newspaper dailies and television channels.
Andras Meszerics is a Hungarian dancer-singer-poet currently based in Salzburg. His body of work is deeply
rooted in Somatic practises and release based techniques, improvisation, the poetic imagination, and a mul-
tidisciplinary approach towards art making. He completed his studies in SEAD in 2018. During his time in
school he most notably worked with Barnaby Booth, Theo Clinkard, Julyen Hamilton and other guest artists.
He presented his latest solo work titled ‘Ways of the Blue’ in Bristol at the Bristol Old Vic theatre January
2019. He’s currently working with Dusseldorf based choreographer Alexandra Waierstall as a dancer in her
next work ‘Bodies and Structure’.
Claudia Heu works internationally as a performance artist and teacher. For many years she has performed with the artists collective Cabula6, doing site-specific performances, installations and social interventions. Her work was featured at Advanced Performing Arts Festival, ImPulsTanz Festival, Wiener Festwochen, Szene Salzburg and TQW Vienna. Together with Urban Nomads she has developed the installation “Alga Bolokh – On dissapearance“ dealing with the social and urban realities of Ulan Bator. Together with Roland Schmidt she initiated “We are our times” at tanzbuero Salzburg, visiting communities who merge art, sustainable ways of living and resistance. Autumn 2015 she worked with Tricklock Company and Adam Burnett in Albuquerque (NM) on “The Keep” – a participative theater experiment dealing with abysses of the human condition. At ImFlieger Vienna she is involved in Metabolism –Ecologies of Collaboration, a transmedia research project. She currently does research on Tsam and Theater at Khamaryn Khiid in the Gobi desert. She teaches Aikido and Ensemblework at Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna, Max Reinhardt Seminar, University of New Mexico and the Centre for Contemporary Dance in Cologne, SEAD and at Impulstanzfestival.