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MASKA - Performing Arts Journal, nos. 196-197 (Summer 2019)


Generation between Regeneration and Degeneration 


The decision to centre the first real issue of our editorial mandate around the topic of generation is not merely a consequence of the fact that (at least according to some censuses and tendering criteria) we ourselves belong among the so-called young (critics). Nor do we wish to follow what Maska already did in the past, i.e. to simply inaugurate a new, by the counting of this journal already 5th generation of directors who are just now autonomously entering the performative podium. This was, instead, done with the new issue of Adept (Magazine of Contemporary Theatre and Movie Makers at the AGRFT) that did not merely provide a generational overview by focusing on a few most prominent names but by dedicating the entire issue to interviews with no less than 48 “young” people of various profiles in the field of performing arts. For this issue of Maska, the Adept editorial board contributed a self-interview.


In this edition of Maska, we were primarily driven by our wish to question the concept of generation, which is two-fold: on the one hand, it ensures the reproduction of the existing state of things and, in the narrower creative sense, a continuation of authorial poetics through the logic of master-student, which actually makes this principle conservative – despite the fact that it etymologically contains the word “genesis”, anticipating development through upgrading or at least transferring and maintaining the same; anticipating regeneration. This can either be systematic and systemic – following established formal educational structures (in Maša Radi’s interview with Maja Delak, we present one such fruitful and functional practice) – or more sporadic and coincidental. On the other hand, it is the concept of generation producing conflictual situations that breaks the ways of life; a certain group of people can or will not understand them anymore as they differ from their own ways of life and the values that they form in historically specific conditions of their own formation. The subjective understanding of this breaking point is what makes the generational border movable. The definition of a generation is not closed – it is not always clear whether it is defined by age, geographical position, common formation, similar conditions through which groups of people enter certain key moments in life, or a mixture of everything. The position of those speaking about a certain generation also definitely plays a role in which group they include in their definition – and this often says more about the position of speaking than it does of the defined group. The reproduction of civilisation (as well as various narrower communities and scenes) therefore follows the line of such small modifications of the basic “gene”. In his article, Muanis Sinanović calls this “the family dispositive”. Such a linear understanding of personal multiplication is part of the problem that prevents the possibility of true change – by definition, this latter is namely understood as degenerative. The feminist and environmental perspective of Katja Čičigoj wonders if it is not the enforcing of the continuity of a personal genome that disables a true change in the paradigm of our understanding and a transformation of the future.


When we are thinking about the future of the field and the scene, we must also reflect on the position (or, rather, the path) of the most progressive part of the “generation” before us; its positioning and complexity represents a certain landmark that helps us understand our own position and read the symptoms of the international and local scene context. That is why this issue collects several more or less representative statements to record the so-called artistic and theoretical “diaspora” that originated in the former Yugoslav region but was, for different reasons,  forced to move to the West. Let this begin the exploration of the meaning of this extremely strong internationalized theoretical and artistic “community” that Maska’s activities in the coming period would like to attribute a special place – also in the special year of 2020, when the magazine importantly marked by this “migrated generation” will celebrate its 100th birthday and publish its 200th issue.


Responsible for the fact that the problem of generations stepped in the foreground for us in the narrower sense, i.e. on the (independent) performing arts’ scene, are undoubtedly the systemic anomalies that pushed different generations into extremely inequal working conditions. The latter are becoming more and more obvious and carry material consequences reflected in the artistic production itself. Based on the evident situation on the local scene, the editorial board has come up with the following observation: a certain strong group of producers has formed due to the historical development through which some non-governmental organisations originating in the 90s were able to gather enough power until the Ministry of Culture and the City of Ljubljana first introduced financing for several-year programmes so that their precedence enabled them to continue having the advantage. Nevertheless, these older producers never really achieve stability, which would make sense at a certain point – this would then enable them continuous work while stopping them from creating unfair competition for the younger ones. But cultural policies fail to respond to actual situations and real needs – these are not systematically analysed, and the solutions are never integrated in their creation and application. Today, this systemic problem has led to a blocked flow and enormous generational gaps. There is no doubt that various generations have faced different problems when entering the scene; currently, it is perhaps the “middle” generation that have it the hardest. They can neither compete with the older producers nor acquire special funding and conditions reserved for “the young”. Even though the field has a few strong non-governmental organisations established after 2000, the difference between them and the older producers is especially in the fact that the latter were helped by the municipalities to ensure certain infrastructural capacities. In this issue, Kaja Kraner analysed one of the younger producers, the Maribor-based Nagib, , its dislocation from the capital making it a substantive and infrastructural specificity.


A further systemic anomaly lies also in the fact that the financial support largely flows to and accumulates in production – e.g. managing infrastructure, logistics, fundraising – while the content itself remains poorly financed and precarious despite some rare attempts at their direct support (e.g. work scholarships, calls for applications  for original work). Yet, in general, the conditions of calls for applications attribute weight disproportionally and give more credit to the producers’ references than the artists’ ones. This makes it difficult for a “young” or “new” artist to enter. We are not saying that this is the fault of a certain generation – a generation that had other circumstances and was able to establish production houses and private institutes centred mainly around one artist – this is a systemic problem. The first steps that could shake up these conditions are most certainly possible in the framework of situation detection, as well as in active and live forming of cultural policies concerning the needs and the organic development of the scene.


We do not wish to point any fingers but as the current generational picture is striking, we do feel that we need to emphasize it. In this issue, we also wished to touch upon it in the new section of the magazine entitled Crumbs from the Scene which will from now on regularly feature various material from live artistic production. This time, we present an excerpt from the Stadion Olympia trilogy by Dino Pešut, a play written in juicy auto-poetic manner which tackles the existential situation of a young precarious cultural worker. Nowadays, the young precarious workers and freelancers entering the cultural sector are not only wage labour that needs to be yoked in the production means of the producer/capitalist so that their live work would create a new (symbolic) capital. The truth is that, as freelancers, they do not even have the basic collectively won workers’ rights as there is no formal relationship between the employer and the employee anymore – yet at the same time it still exists and has even become more strained while the employer is liberated from any obligation and liability. We could even argue that the young have become a means of production, semiotic machines, the potentials of which must be wringed out as much as possible, owning the results enabled by their bodies/minds. The young/machines must bear the ever faster rhythm of work; but if they break or fail to be productive, if their potential is not extracted fast enough and doesn’t produce enough added value for the positioned producers/capitalists, the latter simply replace them with younger “models” and the production process continues with no major damage done to anybody but the young, brought down to the starting point by a depressively wrecking force. Their endurance, agility, immunity and productivity are valued on a regular basis. For a long time (too long), they have been forced to  push themselves working (almost) for free to prove themselves worthy of “being taken” – they are not in charge of their own capacities as they are worthless if they are not connected to a (symbolic) capital. Of course, not everybody, especially not people with no financial background, can afford such a long free run, as one must, after all, survive. That is why entering the cultural field has also become a class privilege.


This issue of Maska, as well as the following ones, will be complemented with a section entitled Independent, a collaboration with the newly formed online platform www.neodvisni.art, which is also edited by the undersigned. The platform’s goal is to record and reflect on the field of contemporary performing arts – by publishing weekly articles. The Independent section of Maska will then feature a selection of material produced in six months’ time on the platform. This time it is, at least indirectly, topical: Robert Bobnič’s article introduces the generationally marked topic of the current theoretical discussion on contemporary intermedia art from a technological perspective. A way of defining a certain generation is namely also its level of connectedness to technology. Included in the magazine is also an article by Maša Radi who, despite her youth, actively regenerates her affinity towards contemporary dance in the barren critical landscape. And, last but not least, we also selected a sensitive article by Zala Dobovšek about Marko Brecelj. Her contribution wishes to introduce another aspect, an aspect of the generation that has almost been written off but continues to persist in its own rhythm and with its own playfulness. Promoting the forgotten values, it represents a precious and rare reminder to us.

Here's to many a reading pleasure! 

Pia Brezavšček and Alja Lobnik


Maska 196-97



Muanis Sinanović


Katja Čičigoj

Kaja Kraner


The editorial board of the Adept magazine (Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti, Tery Žeželj, Jernej Potočan, Filip Mramor, Ivana Percan Kodarin)

Pia Brezavšček

Maša Radi Buh
Interview with choreographer and teacher Maja Delak … 82 


Dino Pešut
STADION OLYMPIA Fragment of the 3rd Part of the Trilogy … 94 


Robert Bobnič

Maša Radi Buh

Zala Dobovšek

MASKA - Performing Arts Journal
Since 1920
vol. XXXIV, dvojna številka, nos. 196-197 (Summer 2019) 

ISSN 1318-0509 

Published by: Maska, Institute for Publishing, Production and Education | Metelkova 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia | Phone: +386 1 4313122 | Fax: +386 1 4313122 | E-mail: info@maska.si | www.maska.si | For the publisher: Janez Janša 

Editors-in-chief: Pia Brezavšček in Alja Lobnik | Editorial Board: Katja Čičigoj, dr. Gregor Moder, Saška Rakef, Rok Vevar, Jasmina Založnik 

Design and Layout: Špela Razpotnik | Translations: Sonja Benčina, Špela Bibič | Slovene Language Editor: Ana Bogataj | English Language Editors: Sonja Benčina, Špela Bibič |  Print: Cicero | Copies: 400 

Price of double issue (international): 10 € | Price of triple issue (international): 12 € |  Price of quadruple issue (international): 15 € | Annual international subscription for six (6) nos.: Individual rate for Europe 67 €, Individual rate, Rest of World 77 (distributed by Maska Ljubljana). International institutional rate: print and online subscription 195 € / 136 £ / 226 $, online only 136 € / 105 £ / 175 $ (distributed by Intellect Ltd. and Turpin Distribution, UK) | Package and postage included. | Business secretary: Nataša Božič | Subscription and distribution for individuals from Europe and Rest of World: natasa.bozic@maska.si | Account number: 02010-00165250861 | Maska is available in both print and electronic formats through Turpin Distribution, Pegasus Drive, Stratton Business Park, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, SG18 8TQ, UK; T: +1 860 350 0031 (North America), +44 (0) 1767 604 951, F: +44 (0)1767 601640 (Institutional EU and Rest of World orders, except Slovenia and North America); E: custserv@turpin-distribution.com, W: www.turpin-distribution.com

Although we have tried our best to track down copyright holders of photos and other visual materials, we have not always succeeded. The authors are kindly asked to contact the editorial board. 

Maska was founded in 1920 by the Ljubljana sub-committee of the Association of Theatre Players of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Udruženje gledaliških igralcev Kraljevine SHS). In 1985, the Association of Cultural Organisations of Slovenia (Zveza kulturnih organizacij Slovenije) revived this publication under the title of Maske. In 1991, its original name was restored and its co-founder – Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis – reinstated. 

Chief and/or executive editors thus far: Rade Pregarc (1920–21), Peter Božič & Tone Peršak (1985–90), Maja Breznik (1991–93), Irena Štaudohar (1993–98), Janez Janša (1998–2006), Katja Praznik (2007–2009), Maja Murnik (2011), Amelia Kraigher (2012-2017) & Andreja Kopač (2018). 

According to Article 25, Item 7 of the Value Added Tax Act, newspapers are taxed at the rate of 9.5%.  

The journal is supported by the Slovenian Book Agency.
Co-financed by TANZFONDS ERBE – An initiative by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

— 23-09-2019 : Presentation of the new Maska Journal: RE/DE-GENERACION
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