Staging Ideologies of the Social. Seminar


In autumn 2010, having recently opened our office, we invited Ana Vujanović and Marta Popivoda to talk about TkH – Walking Theory (, a platform set up in 2000 in Belgrade, instigated by different artists, theoreticians and researchers. This gave them an idea of the background to the Bulegoa Zenbaki Barik project, which came out of a similar desire to their own; wanting to broaden relationships between art theory and practice. We had several conversations with Asier Mendizabal at the time, and discovered certain affinities between each of our content and approaches. Our first meeting was followed by a second, more informal one with Bojana Cvejić in April 2013, in which she told us about her and Vujanović’s joint investigation on “Performance and the Public Sphere” which led to the publication of the book Public Sphere by Performance and the making of Popivoda’s film Yugoslavia: How Ideology Moved our Collective Body.

After this, we started wondering to what extent the concerns that arise from reflecting on the performativity of the public sphere in Yugoslavia might be relevant to our context today, and what kind of thinking was specific to it; not only with regard to performativity and the public sphere, but also with regard to the question of the individual and the collective – habitually presented as opposites -. This has been dealt with in many works by Mendizabal which study the interconnections between form, ideology and the social.

The aim of this seminar is to set up a shared, open, public dialogue between the approaches of each of the four speakers. “Staging Ideologies of the Social” aims to present different reflections on the idea of the public sphere today and in what specific forms the ideology of the public sphere is revealed. At times, these forms become actions in continual production and transformation.

To take part in the seminar and be sent the selected bibliography, please write to

The seminar will be held in English.

Live video streaming on TV-tron ( )


11:00 – 12:15. DANCE-WAR: “When WAR was the Political Unconscious of DANCE”. Bojana Cvejić

12:15 – 13:30. “Touching ground. Mass, squares and monuments”. Asier Mendizabal

13:30 – 14:00. Roundup

14:00 – 15:30. Lunch Break

15:30 – 16:45. “Performing Ideology: Immunitas and communitas in neoliberal democratic society”. Ana Vujanović

16:45- 18:30. Presentation and discussion of Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body by Marta Popivoda

DANCE-WAR: When WAR was the Political Unconscious of DANCE. Bojana Cvejić

While the conjunction “dance-war” might evoke images of war-dances in the genres of folklore or war propaganda – where military training or combat are thematically represented and aestheticized in dancing or dance-like bodies – my interest here is to reverse the perspective and search for indirect, evasive, or grammatical relations and isomorphisms between war and dance. “Dance-war” appears as a problem from the viewpoint of the Euro-American tradition of modern and contemporary theatrical dance in the notions and aesthetic figures that explicitly renounce war. Thus, modern dance is born in the 20th century from the democratic liberal self-expression of the body of the individual. In the times of the Cold War and the Vietnam War, dance rehearses models of peace and alternative harmonious social arrangements in communalization. Nowadays, when expedient military interventions and long-term low-intensity conflicts replace body-to-body battles between warring sides, choreography surfaces as a metaphor for smooth operations and flow beyond political blockages.

My talk derives from the research I conducted for the exhibition project Danse-guerre (Musée de la danse, Rennes September-October 2013). The theoretical investigation of the thematic problem of “dance and war” puts into practice “social choreography,” the analytical method developed in the research on the public sphere and performance, which Ana Vujanović, Marta Popivoda and I conducted in 2011-2012.

Touching ground. Mass, squares and monuments. Asier Mendizabal.

Flow, emulsion or precipitation. The history of the sociological representation of the masses, that is, the history of sociology itself and its mistrust of the masses, has repeatedly drawn on metaphors from physics, chemistry and meteorology. The elusiveness of the mass in the face of attempts to represent it becomes the eternal motif of representations of it. And, in a secular prejudice towards this characterization, the permanent suspicion that the masses will not catalyze into concepts, but into images. Not into the transcendence of an idea, but into the immanence of a sign.

Performing Ideology: Immunitas and communitas in neoliberal democratic society. Ana Vujanović

This paper draws on the book Public Sphere by Performance (2012) that I co-wrote with Bojana Cvejić within the research “Performance and the Public”, which we carried out together with Marta Popivoda. In the research as well as in the present paper I focus on the problem of the public sphere as political sphere, determined by the question of the public as a social and political concept and by the problem of the performance on/of the public stage, which comes from performance studies.

In order to reflect on the specific issue of performing ideology today, I would like to revitalize the concept of the social drama, which was introduced by Victor Turner in 1960s. It draws analytical attention to the liminal moments when conflicts escalate, outlining the limits of society as we know it and fostering thinking new forms of the social. According to Turner, social performances and new, emerging communities (‘communitas’) that carry out social drama do not simply belong to the regular social superstructure—as regular production of artistic and cultural performances does— but are instead a proto-, meta-, or an anti-structure. Public events of social drama therefore mark those moments when the base and superstructure no longer correspond with one another, thus opening space for the society to critically reflect on what it is, though it is still not sure about what it might become.

Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body (2013). Marta Popivoda

This research-based essay film is a very personal perspective on the history of socialist Yugoslavia, its dramatic end, and its recent transformation into a few democratic nation states. Experience of the dissolution of the state, and today’s “wild” capitalist reestablishment of the class system in Serbia are my reasons for going back through the media images and tracing the way a specific social system changed by performing itself in public space.

The film is a part of the two-year-long research project “Performance and the Public”, carried out by Ana Vujanović, Bojana Cvejić, and Marta Popivoda of the Belgrade theoretical-artistic collective TkH – Walking Theory at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in Paris.


Bojana Cvejić (Belgrade) is a performance theorist and performance maker based in Brussels. She is a co-founding member of TkH editorial collective with whom she has realized many projects and publications. Cvejić studied musicology and holds a PhD in philosophy (Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, London). She is (co-)author or collaborator in many dance, opera and theatre performances since 1996. She directed five opera performances in Belgrade since 1996, the last Don Giovanni at BITEF, Belgrade, 2008. Her latest books are Public Sphere by Performance, co-written with A. Vujanović (b_books, Berlin, 2012), Parallel Slalom: Lexicon of Nonaligned Poetics, co-edited with G. S. Pristaš (TkH/CDU, Belgrade/Zagreb, 2013), En Atendant & Cesena: A Choreographer’s Score, co-written with A.T.De Keersmaeker (Mercator, Brussels, 2013). Cvejić teaches at various dance and performance programs in Europe (P.A.R.T.S. Brussels, DOCH University of Dance and Circus, Stockholm, SNDO Amsterdam etc.). Her current research interests are social choreography and the critique of liberal individualism in contemporary art.

Asier Mendizabal (Ordizia 1973) is an artist based in Bilbao. His practice, which is bound to the program of sculpture, uses different media and procedures, often including the written word. He has staged individual exhibitions at Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen, Norway; Raven Row, London; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; DAE, Donostia-San Sebastián; MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, and Culturgest, Lisbon. He has taken part in group shows such as IllumiNATIONS, 54, Venice Bienale; Scenarios about Europe: Scenario 3, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; In the First Circle, Fundació Tápies, Barcelona; Às Artes, Cidadãos, Museu Serralves, Porto; Chacun a son Gôut, at Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa, Bilbao; Després de la notícia, at CCCB Barcelona; Manifesta 5, Donostia-San Sebastián; the Taipei Biennial; Insiders, at CAPC Bordeaux; Flüchtige Zeiten, at Westfälischer Kunstverein; On Handlung, Bucharest Biennial.

Ana Vujanović (Berlin/Hamburg/Belgrade) is a freelance theorist, dramaturge and cultural worker in contemporary performing arts. She is a member of editorial collective of TkH – Walking Theory, theoretical-artistic platform, Belgrade, and chief editor of TkH journal for performing arts theory. She has lectured or given workshops at various universities and independent educational programs. As a performer, she engages in performance, theatre, dance and video. She publishes regularly in journals and collections; and is author of four books, most recently Public Sphere by Performance, with Bojana Cvejić. She is currently international visiting professor at Performance Studies Dpt., University Hamburg. In recent years her research interest has been focused on the intersections between performance and politics in neoliberal capitalist societies.

Marta Popivoda, born in 1982 in Belgrade, is a film and video maker and a cultural worker based in Berlin and Belgrade. She is a graduate in Film and TV Directing from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade and a postgraduate in experimental film from the Art and Media Department at the Berlin University of the Arts. She is a member of the editorial collective TkH – Walking Theory, a theoretical-artistic platform from Belgrade within which she initiated and participated in many local and international artistic and cultural projects (such as illegal_cinema). Her work has been presented internationally at film festivals and exhibitions of photography, installation art, and video. Her latest film Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body premiered at 63rd Berlinale and got the Special Jury Mention at the 19th Sarajevo Film Festival.