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Still LifeNine Attempts to Preserve Life, length 60 min

Still Life
With its form and content, Tin Grabnar’s performance Still Life addresses the evasive question of the phenomenon of life. What is the inner force that we call life? What is life like? How to understand the phenomenon and way of existence and its opposite—death? And finally, what does it mean to take this life away? By exploring these questions, a sensible performance language takes shape—one that addresses fundamental questions of the existence of animals and at the same time strives to engender respect in the audience for all that we refer to as being alive.

In the Victorian era, taxidermy—the art of preserving animals’ bodies—gained popularity mainly as a peculiarity and a symbol of prestige or as a trendy decor for high society disguised as science. Up to today, this form of art has developed different expressions reaching beyond its original purpose, which was to depict nature in its naturalistic dimension. These expressions include anything from ethnic taxidermy, anthropomorphic taxidermy, and art taxidermy to the taxidermy treatment of game trophies. Taxidermy may serve as a metaphor for the love of nature. But it may as well serve as a metaphor for social hypocrisy and the anthropocentric exploitation of nature. Taxidermy shows the thin line between respect and worship, and exploitation and objectification. It does this through the prism of taking ownership of death and life.

The unfolding of such radical themes required radical performance approaches that pull back the curtains and expose the theme. These processes may raise deep emotional, ethical, and philosophical questions with the audience. The performance Still Life: Nine Attempts to Preserve Life demonstrates taxidermy and the idea of preserving life and tests them by potentiating them. It creates the illusion of life, where there is no life. It uses the essence of the puppet medium: to animate the inanimate. The animation in Still Life reaches into real life: the animated entity is a creature that once lived and was killed by humans.

Tin Grabar has been intensively involved in performance ventures from an early age. His field of interest ranges from classical to alternative, puppet, and documentary theatre. A broad understanding of the theatre experience and various performance procedures enable him to bring together in his works elements of dance, improvisation, contemporary puppetry, magic, performance, and visual arts. In the last couple of years, Grabnar, together with other co-creators, also developed dramatic texts which include dialogues written so as to keep in mind the final effect of such dialogues on the performance and the refining effect on the performance content. In his performances, Grabnar addresses collaboration, community, group dynamics, and helplessness. He explores theatre communication, delves into a broad spectrum of various performance strategies, and establishes a group process of performance creation. The performance entitled Somewhere Else, staged at the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, brought him a number of international awards.

Premiere: 7.11.2020, Oder pod zvezdami

Co-produced with Flota Institute.

Author: Tin Grabnar, Tjaša Bertoncelj
Directed by: Tin Grabnar
Dramaturgy: Tjaša Bertoncelj
Cast: Asja Kahrimanović Babnik, Iztok Lužar, Zala Ana Štiglic
Set Design: Sara Slivnik
Costume Design: Sara Smrajc Žnidarčič
Music: Mitja Vrhovnik Smrekar
Sound Design, Sound and Music Effects: Eduardo Raon
Puppet Technology: Zoran Srdić
Video: Vesna Krebs
Lighting Design: Gregor Kuhar
Stage manager and Sound designer: Luka Bernetič
Producer: Alja Cerar Mihajlović
Lights: Gregor Kuhar
Set Technician: Kemal Vrabac Kordiš
Set, Puppets and Costumes Production: Zoran Srdić, Iztok Bobić, Polona Černe, Sandra Birjukov, Marjeta Valjavec, Zala Kalan, David Klemenčič, Olga Milič, Uroš Mehle s.p., 3Dimension