Letter from
Dragana

“Perhaps the true society would become BORED WITH DEVELOPMENT,
and would out of freedom leave possibilities UNUSED,
instead of storming alien stars under a confused compulsion”
Theodor W Adorno “Sur l’eau”, in “Minima Moralia”

Dear Anna,
It is your birthday today. I don’t know which one, but this in your case really doesn’t matter – you are timeless. Stay healthy, stay beautiful and I send you so much love from my home. Happy birthday!

Joanna had invited me to write a letter. I decided to write to you, hoping to get your response, knowing that this writing is between my private space and something to be perhaps read by others too.

We have been in touch lately, but not so often, and I would be interested to hear what is happening with your heart, with all your activities, how are you doing, how is it going?

I am thinking about the destiny of the places some of us around the world have been developing for a decade and a half and how it is possible that things take so much effort to be built, only to so easily implode, that we are used to this discontinuity as a general pattern? How can we be so easily persuaded into believing that we are too many, that there should be fewer artists in this world? Nobody ever said that there should be fewer millionaires, less bankers, less tax officers, or that there are far too many politicians or policemen… While in fact what we see lately disguised as economic crisis, ecological crisis, migrant crisis, or the last one – health crisis – is clearly a crisis of imagination of a better world. Of collective imagining of something that is lying directly/right in front of us. What I mean is that besides imagining we should perhaps also practice different scenarios, and I mean from the inside. I feel we have lived in the wrong political dimension for too long, and we have inherited it on all other levels of our lives: we have lived in a corrupt, shameful and unforgiving world, which was very rigid in the wrong places and also extremely flexible in other wrong places. How can we imagine another future, unless we dive into the everydayness and employ all our knowledge and demand the continuity?

Throughout the last two years, and also in the beginning of March I was working intensively with a group of dancers and choreographers, on a project choreographed and organized by Snježana Premuš. I think I maybe told you about this work when we last met. All of it is based on a very specific kind of BMC, long-term research with a group of 8 artists, which is a huge success in the independent scene, to be together for more than 2 months and also in this dedicated and continuous way. Then with the audience it becomes some kind of social experiment, where we are navigating this performing situation, but actually everyone in the room is in charge of choreography/aesthetics/results of these very special performances. It is a deep research of social tissue through the laws and principles of human anatomy, a sensory, somatic and deeply personal work. But also very relatable to society, to all of our roles and our decisions. Snježana is researching how all this can be continuously shared, experienced by others, reported, and related to other knowledge (science, history of art, theory of society) so that it never becomes hermetic or impermeable. The beginning of isolation caught us just at the end of an intensive period of work during which we were touching and sensing each other’s bodies for hours every day, and we were also almost starting residency in Berlin from 13th to 23rd March. So you can imagine what a deep and painful hole this isolation made in us.

I was wandering how to overcome this. I had the feeling that some parts of me were missing since all these people who inhabited my inner space were missing, and something had to be done about that.

Also, the fact that we were closed into our nuclear families, mainly in our biological families, made me go crazy. I love my family, but I did not know what to do with the fact that I feel some other people were also my family and that I need their closeness as much as I need my “real” family? I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the lockdown in Slovenia was taken really seriously, in a literal way, without any line crossing and we were all very religiously obedient. I had a problem with that, with the fact that we are not breaking any rules and that we are not fighting for what we need at all. It seemed too easy to take something away from us, something vital and irreplaceable.

I stayed at home with Dejan and the girls. I was even happy at moments that I can cook as much as I want, that I can do small house movements, because for these I usually never have time. We were connected in a new way and I could appreciate this. I would also rediscover something for myself in this domestic idleness, in this privacy, which I so rarely have. I could not really rest or “work on myself” as I felt imprisoned all the time, and in this anxiety of a prison I could only stay alert and small and try only to survive. In order to make use of extra time, one should feel free and one should chose to isolate, rather than be forced into isolation.

I read again Giulia Palladini’s text about domesticity, her work about the need to reformulate the domestic as a pre-condition to our living of a desirable life, a life worth living[1]. She is speaking about all of us (or at least about all of us who have a home and some kind of a family) and how we can and should actually practice the political functioning inside our homes, and how this functioning can very easily and directly be connected to being political in the public sphere. That home and public spaces are indivisible, inseparable and the ways we act in one relates and translates immediately to the other one. I started thinking about these roles we are assigned or we assign to ourselves, how to practice these roles inside of our most intimate surroundings and it seemed like something as important as changing the government or protesting or any other kind of political activism. Because – if and how we submit ourselves, how we delegate the power to someone else, even to those closest to us, how we delegate even the enjoyment and joy and anything else, all this seemed suddenly even more important than changing the political party in power. Because it seems like an important foundation for any other political work and thought.

Unfortunately, my work was not only introspective and intellectual and domestic, unfortunately the same day of the beginning of the quarantine was also the first day of the old/new extreme right wing government in Slovenia, who was not even elected but came to power through some kind of merchandise of votes that can happen thanks to the crisis of representation in our current political global story. That is why starting from mid April we are all protesting in the streets, trying to gather some kind of collective voice against the toxic and destructive political reality we are living now. But what can I tell you, you who are from Poland, other than “we are there with all these oppressed people now”? Or is the oppression of the neoliberal system only more visible now? We are looking at Turkey, at Hungary, at Croatia, at US and Brazil and we are also arriving there, trying to understand how it can be possible that the rights and standards once established can be lost so easily and almost overnight. We see the violent erosion of public institutions; we see the heavy downgrading of public speech, of the offending of common sense and human values every day anew. This is nothing new to you, I know, but I am wandering what should be happening in order that we take some things into our hands, what level of humiliation and offense should happen so that we feel we have to take some action. Also, what about us, who through our arts bring about the further anesthetization of any given issue, maybe taking some weight away from it and making it more light, more digestible? I am observing the protests in Ljubljana and I see the theatre, I see colors, ideas, and aesthetics. I am not sure what to do with it. It is for me but another layer of interpretation, of making something nice, something less disturbing. I am not sure.

It is not very clear what action we could take, in which direction. We seem to be too confused; the knowledge of what our situation is seems to be constantly shifting and diluting. Instead of fighting for the realization of the truth, we are offered two different lies to chose from, which of them is truer. Is choosing between bare biological life and multidimensional life really our only possibility? Is seeing the other as a threat truly our only future? Do we want to accept that we do not have any voice in the creation of our own future, as individuals and as collectives? Is this excessive political and police power what is really protecting us, and from whom? How will we treat information from now on? How can we keep our right to imagine and to imagine collectively?

I have so many questions and no answers for now. And I hope it will stay that way, for some time at least. I feel that the only ones among us who can at least touch the answer at this moment are the philosophers, knowing that all that we live is a consequence of concepts, constructs and ideas of how the world should be. This does not make me calmer, but it gives me hope that among philosophers there will be courageous people, not only those who are also afraid for their bare life.

Do let me know how you are. Let me know what you are dreaming of and what is happening in your dreams.

I miss you so much this Indian summer, on Sept 8th 2020
Dragana


[1] I want to reclaim the word domestic taking into account such burden of historical disdain and countering the idea of the ‘domestic sphere’ as something opposed to creativity, anomaly, estrangement and the unknown. As Kresny suggests, today more than ever we need to reaffirm that ‘the domestic is political’.[1] At the same time, in putting forward the idea of ‘domestics’ I also wish to open up the domestic to what it does not usually mean, and what it might, in fact, stand for: a domain of radical immanence, a possible alternative to the globalised flexibility of relations and labour, an outpost to rethink what a home might be. I want to invent a different politics of use for the domestic, mending the fate of its predicament and imagining a possible future of redemption for all the activities which this word might evoke.

I also wish to uncouple the idea of domestic from the notion of ‘domestication’, understood as a process of restriction, control and limitation, according to the meaning which is emphasised, for example, by Deleuze and Guattari, who often ridicule the ‘domestic’ (in particular, but not only, when discussing animals) in their conceptual landscape, counterposing ‘a domesticated individual to a wild multiplicity’ and associating the domestic with traditional family and psychoanalysis.[1] Here, I wish to call for a non-domesticated domestic, for a wild domestic, for an imaginative and unpredictable domestic. I wish to conjure a domestic beyond family and psychoanalysis, a domestic that already in fact exists in many realities, one built, defended and sustained by a multiplicity. A domestic not based on identity, but on a mode of being which makes human life possible and desirable. (Palladini, Notes on the Domestics of Performance p63, in Live Gatherings ed A Vujanović & L.A.Piazza)