Reconstructing Utopia: Cinema, Performance, and Ex-Yugoslavia

February 12, 2011

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MCA/John W. Sisson, Jr. ©
A scene from "Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never."

This afternoon symposium offers insight into the creative process of Chicago's Every House Has a Door, which is performing the piece "Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never." at the MCA Chicago. Symposium participants critically reflect on themes the performance group's work shares with the genre-defying films of Serbian filmmaker Dušan Makavejev, which the group has used as one of the foundations for their recent theatrical work. In the 1960s and '70s, Makavejev's groundbreaking films revolted against the oppressive social and sexual mores that the socialist Yugoslav state espoused. Short presentations explore the themes of utopia, theatricality, the body, and the law. They also address the historical contexts of Makavejev's films and the piece performed at the MCA, and will explore the value of experimentation as well.

Feature presentations:

In her talk "The Space Between What is and What Wants to Be: The Abandoned Practice of Utopian Thinking," Carol Becker (Dean, School of the Arts, Columbia University) discusses the value of utopian thinking in relationship to the current state of the world, and art making as an attempt to create a utopian location. She references Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud's debate on war and the thinking of Austrian-American psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich who influenced Makaveyev, and most recently the work of Every House Has a Door.

Justin Cabrillos (Chicago-based artist and writer) responds to the work of Every House Has a Door from the perspective of both a scholar and artmaker.

Performance historian and theorist Branislav Jakovljevic (Assistant Professor at the Department of Drama at Stanford University) contextualizes "Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never." within the cultural history of the United States and Makavejev's native Yugoslavia.

Lin Hixson (co-founder and director of Every House Has a Door) talks about the creative processes involved in making of  "Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never." and some relevant contrasts and similarities between the years 1971 and 2011.

MCA Director of Performance Peter Taub introduces the program and facilitates discussion.

About Every House Has a Door: Lin Hixson and Matthew Goulish, after a twenty-year collaboration as co-founders of Goat Island, have formed Every House Has a Door to create project-specific collaborative performances with invited guests. This company seeks to retain Goat Island's narrow thematic focus and rigorous presentation but to broaden the canvas to include careful intercultural collaboration and its unfamiliar, even awkward, spectrum.

Recorded Saturday, February 12, 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.