What remains to a present-day artist when they are left without a computer and a phone – the basic instruments for communicating their work to viewers? Network connections represent an infinite communications network and it is through them that artists today reach their biggest audience. In such a situation – no computer, no phone –, Nataša Berk leaned on the expressiveness of the body. She is no stranger to performativity – just think of her imaginary personalities. This time, she tackled performativity in a different way, performing as the artist Nataša Berk.
In the “eine revolution ohne tanzen ist eine revolution die sich nicht lohnt” (“a revolution without dance is a revolution that does not pay off”) project, the artist addresses viewers via video with her body, with dance moves, danced in front of the camera. The video is available on the YouTube platform, one of the main channels for spreading video recordings and one of the so-called easy-to-use online video websites. Adapted forms of video communication developed alongside these websites, such as vlogs, DIY instruction videos, individual concepts of music videos (i.e. ‘Harlem Shake’) or marketing campaigns (i.e. for the Honda Civic Type R, where pressing the R key switched between two clips), etc. Nataša Berk‘s project is also a form of video communication, only without sound. Moving pictures and sound seem inseparable on video platforms. The YouTube smartphone app makes a clear statement about the importance of images and the purpose of the platform by not allowing one to listen to music when the screen is locked, or to simultaneously use another app. How to approach a video clip without a soundtrack, when the video is clearly linked to it? How to communicate with it, and what kind of communication goes with recorded dance moves? Is the artist teaching us the moves? Is she inviting us for a relaxing dance?
In the video description, the artist appeals to viewers to add music to her dance performance. She is thus putting her body at the mercy of the participating audience, which can select the songs she will dance to, always in the same way – but just in virtual reality, where the audience does not actually have any influence on her dancing. The decision remained with the performer: by choosing the presentation of the dance via video, she retains the body under her own control and expresses resistance to “managing” her body. The decision is left to the viewer: will he choose a form of violence and mock her dancing by using the shuffle function, or will he rather look for a song that will be better suited to the dancer’s moves?
“Every revolution also needs dancing” is the message in the title of the project. Over the past 15 years, numerous scientific studies at medical institutes have focused on the impact of dancing on brain activity and physical health. By establishing new neural connections in the brain, dancing is supposed to help improve long-term memory, protect against dementia, decrease stress, improve spatial recognition, etc. During dancing, the body often releases serotonin, which is why dancing also triggers pleasant feelings of liberation, happiness, joy. Dancing sounds like a great solution for preventing contemporary society’s plummet into the abyss of apathy.
The artist views dancing or movement as an expression of a sincere and spontaneous act. Dancing is a part of human culture, it is relaxation, entertainment, ritual. Alongside the broad variety of existing dance genres, steps and choreographies, when dancing freely, individuals select our own expressive moves, using our body to express ourselves freely, just like Nataša Berk in the video. The artist’s performative act could also be called an ode to dancing, particularly appealing due to its humorous note.
Come join the YouTube party – but bring your own music!
Nataša Berk is diverse – we can describe her as an ironically-provocative existentialist avant-gardist with a prominent abstract instinct. She is not limited by genres, which is why she is active in numerous artistic fields and media. Her work is mostly connected to photography, video, print, objects, text, music and sound, as well as drawing by hand and digital illustration. An important part of her artistic expression is also performance art. As a citizen of the world, she now lives and works everywhere.
Her view of art is wide open and spontaneous. She does not allow her own personality to limit her, but rather pushes her personal boundaries by creating alternative personalities that she uses to explore and uncover areas otherwise inaccessible to Nataša Berk, as a conceptual performance of the mind. The sharpness of thought is concealed behind the humour and naïveté of a childlike perception of the world. She responds to things that draw her attention provocatively, with the anticipated possibility of polemic reactions, thus encouraging the expansion and even the erasure of boundaries. Even the boundary itself is provocative. Where is the boundary? What is the boundary? Do boundaries even exist in art? After all, it is art…
Organisation: Kino Šiška.
Curated by: Anja Zver.