BADcoBADco. is a Zagreb-based theatre collective. The collective, a confluence of interests in choreography, dramaturgy and philosophy, is nowadays made up of Pravdan Devlahović, Ivana Ivković, Ana Kreitmeyer, Tomislav Medak, Goran Sergej Pristaš, Nikolina Pristaš, Lovro Rumiha and Zrinka Užbinec. Since it was founded in 2000, it has systematically focused on theatrical and dance performance as a problem-generating rather than problem-solving activity - questioning the established ways of performing, representing and spectating. BADco. approaches the theatrical act as an unstable communicational exchange, a complex imaginary, challenging the spectator to look beyond the homogenising media reality and reclaim her or his freedom of spectating.

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List of exhibited works:

Responsibility For The Things Seen: Tales in Negative Space
2011, multichannel video and performance installation

The present times, ridden with the sustained crisis of capitalism, environmental catastrophes and the depletion of common resources, require a reordering of economic and political relations on a global scale. As is repeatedly echoed throughout our work: When there is not enough for everybody, there is no equitable order that can be negotiated. It can function and be understood only on the basis of active policing of differential entitlements and exclusions. Yet attempts to fathom the ongoing reordering of the global space and to imagine a different course of social development to the existing capitalist system run aground at the limits of representation of systemic totality and the fragmention of agency within it. Even in the face of crass injustices, the collective capacity to imagine and project the common future remains captured in images, creating generalised desires, consumerist fragmentation of responsibility and a sense of public progress that are ultimately mobilised to sustain and maximise private profit. Our work reflects this conundrum using what's most immediate to us as theatre makers: investigating strategies of representation, spatial orderings of representation, future scenarios and asymmetric acts of collective communication.

This work starts as a spatial gesture: an insertion of the outside space into the exhibition room. The back wall has been replicated in the space, and the non-space behind the original wall now populates the exhibition room. This non-space, found outside, might be any number of things - anything that can be imagined. For all we know it is a theatre scene, a stage - and this exhibition room might be just a backstage. But it's not quite that - it's a withdrawal of space, a double negativity: not quite this exhibition space, not quite a different place. Well, it could be anything that can be imagined, but many more things that cannot. Maybe a totality of global processes outside of this room that begs the question of how it can be represented.

This work endures as a temporal gesture: it records in images the comings and goings. Theatre, our line of work, always requires our presence. It cannot take place if we're not there. Imagine if we miss a flight! And here we remain in our absence. In recorded images - as you will too. And in images on screens you will see the presence of your absent fellow-visitors, just as you will perhaps witness the absence of your own presence. Become co-present in time with someone who is not with you in the space. The image is a time machine, a transport in time. It opens and forecloses the imagination of the future.

This work demands a scopic act: the much maligned capacity of images to capture our imagination and to supplant our sociality by its simulation is only commensurate with our capacity to always produce new images, new configurations and new disfigurations of images. Here it's no different. Produce images we did, attempted to create images differently we did. And, yet, things don't stop here. There seems to be something incomplete in images that coax out our action in the receptive act of viewing: our intent capacity to become captured, our passionate passivity in surrendering to our own hijacking, our engaged absorption in the intimacy of images. And it's not the sovereign, enlightened viewer that is the agent of this activity. Rather it's a beholder that loses her hold as she becomes immersed in an image and the image loses its clarity as she starts deciphering its detail, unravelling a scene that becomes more and more impossible to relate to as she looks closer and closer, requiring a spiral of reading, a responsibility disturbed by the non-totalisable subject of the image.

Responsibility for Things Seen is based on BADco.'s analytical performative principles. It is an evolving work, presented here in Venice as 'theatre by other means'- through an installation and an intervention. It consists of the following elements that form an integral work:

  • A door left open on the back wall of the exhibition space, suggesting an imaginary space behind.
  • The replica of that same wall displaced into the exhibition space, letting the non-space outside into this room.
  • Five video displays: three set behind the back wall and accessible through cutouts in the wall, and two on the displaced replica wall.
    • Three videos behind the back wall provide intimate cinematic accounts, each accessible only to one spectator at any one time, of displacements in space, image and human presence. The first is a photo essay. The second is a mix of choreography of performers absent from the actual exhibition space and the inadvertent movement of exhibition visitors who are present. The third display shows a live camera shot processed by software subtracting or adding the human presence in the exhibition space.
    • Two interactive videos on the two replica wall displays show short cinematic narratives algorithmically edited in real time using prerecorded material and live feed from cameras in the exhibition space.
  • Intermittent choreographic interventions during the opening days of the Biennale.