So Far So Good - NU festival, Kanuti Saal, Tallinn

 

NU Performance Festival takes place for the fifth time. During the first release in 2005, it was written in the foreword that “NU Performance Festival wanders around in the space between theatre, the fine and performance arts, (pop) music, and contemporary dance. This is an undefined, amorphous and dynamic area, where various specialties, understandings and traditions entwine. In this no man’s land hybrid forms emerge and new artists’ positions are created.” This is still a good introduction in 2014, too.

As this is the introductory text, then according to custom I will try to introduce the current festival.

I have invited my friends. They are my friends primarily in the sense that every inspiring person can be a friend, even if they are dead. Personal contact arises though work. When I see a work I really appreciate, part of me imagines it to be my own work. It is unavoi- dable that the festival program is also reflective of my own practice as a choreographer. Therefore if I couldn’t be myself, I would happily be any of the artists presented at this festival.

The festival presents performances that are not really performances, artists that may or may not really be artists, performers who may and may not be performing. There aren’t many occasions where you can “sit down and see” – because the perfor- mances also take the form of a workshop, a therapeutic session, a film, a club, a conver- sation, a conflict.

The works and artists presented are not contracted to serve any specific illust- rative purpose, to prove any singular topic, and certainly not to drown in any reductive theme on their way to a curatorial premise. They’re free to operate. Each of the works could represent the whole festival. In other words the festival is not made up of works, it is in each work. So we could also talk of nine festivals instead of one. The festival can be characterized by describing any of the artists or works that is featured.

When I first met RYTIS SALADŽIUS at Vilnius airport, I thought he was a taxi driver. Later I found out this was his work for the exhibition at CAC. The second time
I saw Rytis, I didn’t recognize him either because he was wearing a mask. Maybe in his workshop we can learn something about the secret ways of self-disguise, infiltrating into situations behind multiple masks, given that we will be able to recognize him.


Sometimes the shortest way is around a circle. The basic principle of surfing
is to do the opposite of what your logic tells you to do and
DJANA COVIC has told me that the best time to eat ice cream is in the winter.

“I would prefer not to” the well known phrase by Bartleby gains yet another meaning in the work of DORA GARCÍA “The Artist without Works”. Now, more than hundred and fifty years later, the refusal to work is just another way of working.
The artist without works could refer to several of the participants in this festival.

The production of objects seems to be of secondary importance or even a hobby for ALISSA ŠNAIDER, who like the cat on the cover of this newspaper know that their value lies not in their doing but in their being. I would give myself the second or third place in the category of least effort for “Internal Conflict”, a project acted out by the staff members of the festival.

“The Joycean Society” by DORA GARCÍA depicts the opposite end of refusal. The author in the film is not present but his work is, and he is clearly a friend to the tireless group of readers.

“Empathy is the key,” declares
USCHI GELLER EXPERIENCE somewhat shamelessly or shamanisticly. At this point there is no turning back.

The CHICKS ON SPEED are known to be famous, although on closer inspec- tion only a few seem to know what they are famous for, is it the incident when they were pelted with tomatoes while performing as warm-up band for the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Or perhaps their collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld or Julien Assange? “We Don’t Play Guitars” or the high heeled wireless shoe guitar worn by a nude Kate Moss? Art, fashion, music: fake or real? I have myself performed as a dancer with the Chicks over the past six years and they continue to confuse me.

SIMON ASENCIO’s “Jessica” does a hundred jobs, resulting in a shattered performance.

This reminds me of the well-known story about the history of Tallinn. In the lake Ülemiste (situated next to the airport) a kind of a demon is believed to live, he is called the Ülemiste Elder. If anyone should meet him, he always asks: “Is Tallinn ready yet?”
If then the other person answered “yes”, the demon would immediately flood the city (the lake is on a higher latitude than Tallinn). Thus, the correct answer would be:
“No, there is much to be done yet.”


When ALEX BAILEY first flew into Tallinn, he had a seven inch moment in the airport toilet when he was asked by the Ülemiste Elder, “Is Tallinn ready yet?” “It’s been ready for years, you cunt! I call everyone a cunt” he said looking at himself in the mirror. And Tallinn perished before the festival even began.

How to call the festival? “So Far So Good” is actually not really a title but an expression that refers to an uncertain state, a way to verbalize a notion that hangs unfixed, plausible of both negative and positive connotations. Invariably the festival will be known and therefore titled as “So far So Good” defeating the premise but the connotation that it may fall apart and be a disaster remains. Or how do you call a cat with no legs? A mug? No, call it whatever you like, it won’t come anyway!

KRÕÕT JUURAK, curator

Link to the festival program