Artists from the East Offering New Directions

The BAZAAR Festival: Identity in Art and Motion

The BAZAAR international festival of independent performance will take place on March 18–20 with performances at the Alfred ve dvoře Theatre, Studio ALTA and the PONEC – a Dance Venue. The festival will culminate with the Saturday Bazaar, which will showcase works-in-progress by artists from the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Russia, and Slovakia. The BAZAAR Festival is considered a “developmental festival,” which means that it supports the development of new works. It is one of the few “developmental festivals” that exist in Central and Eastern Europe.

This year’s festival will revisit the theme of identity. It will touch on the ideas of identity as a territory where the private and the political spheres intersect, identity as a sphere of personal autonomy, and identity as something susceptible to manipulation. This theme is especially relevant today in Europe as questions of identity have become politically charged as a result of the refugee crisis. “Fears creeping through our society, unfamiliar to us just a few years ago.” Said festival program director Ewan McLaren. “It almost seems like late 19th century nationalism's are back on the march in a new form. Now, in the early 21st century, opinions on identity, both political and personal identity, are tied to the question: where do we want to take things?”

The question of identity is even more perplexing in the post-communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. “With characteristic irony and intelligence, artists working in the post-communist context have been exploring how we can defend our identity against manipulation,” McLaren said. He added that artists are also exploring “how we can maintain a place in which to think and create freely.”

On Friday, March 18, the festival will open with a performance titled, We Do Not Know the Logic of the Wind by Sonja Pregrad and Nives Sertić. This performance was first developed as part of the Identity.Move! project, and questions the hierarchy of different ways of articulating the world. It explores the observed vs. the observer, the body vs. the camera lens, and dance vs. the language of film. 

Another festival special-guest will be Austrian dancer and multi-media artist Silke Grabinger. She will perform the Versuchsperson Silke Grabinger in which the dancer becomes a “test subject.” During her solo choreography this former Cirque du Soleil performer will investigate ways of establishing her own rules in someone else’s game.

During the Saturday Bazaar, which will be held at Studio ALTA, six innovative artists will open up their creative processes to the audience. In Absolutely, the visual performer Roman Zotov (RU) will present an excerpt from a story about searching for one’s home. In This Very Moment, award-winning Slovak dancer Jaro Viňarský will present a display about perceiving others in a prejudice-free way. The afternoon session will close with a collaborative work-in-progress by Halka Třešňáková (a major personality of the Czech indie scene) and Hungarian artist Lászlo Fülöp. The work is titled Timothy and the Things: Plan B.

The evening portion of the Saturday Bazaar will feature a performance from the Polish-Romanian duo Agata Siniarska and Madalina Dan. They will showcase an excerpt from their upcoming work Mothers of Steel, which is an investigation of tears that touches on themes like memory, history, death, happiness, fragility, innocence, and strength. Then, Tereza Hradilková will present an excerpt from Swish, an upcoming solo about work, play, and madness. 

The evening will close with an excerpt from Loneliness and Stuff, by the creative team Ufftenzivot. This excerpt will analyse isolation and self-determination and will be followed with a closing discussion on the dramatic approaches of all of the productions. The discussion will be led by Alice Koubová from the Institute of Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Sciences, who specialises in the study of performative philosophy.

On Sunday, the festival will close with a pair of performances. The first will be called End Dream from the Roman ensemble Unsorcery, and will focus on the ways in which we can actively alter reality. The second performance is from festival special guest Wojtek Ziemilski. His performance will focus on the relationship between a mother and her speech-impaired son, serving as a metaphor for how society relates to those who are unable to speak for themselves. The festival will end at 4 PM with a public presentation of an excerpt from the workshop On the (Non-hierarchical) Dialogue between Two Media by Sonja Pregrad and Nives Sertić.

The festival, created in 2015, serves as a part of the Identity.Move! project to support theoretical and artistic research on identity through contemporary dance and perfoming arts. The main organizer of the festival is Motus, who also produce the Alfred ve dvoře Theatre in cooperation with many foreign cultural institutes such as Tanec Praha, and Studio ALTA.

Tickets for this intellectually stimulating, philosophic artistic festival are on sale through and The price is 500 CZK/300CZK for a festival pass, which includes all festivals besides the workshop. The workshop costs 900/600 CZK. For those who only want to attend individual performances, the price is 200 CZK for adults and 100 CZK for students or seniors. If you’re an art student, the price is only 50 CZK for an individual performance.

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