PERFORMANCE The “Kwartet Flow”
Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture, 2016
by Chris Baldwin
The art of performance is much more than the simple creation of a word in a given space and time. It is an idea going beyond the dimensions of reality, though it is inscribed in a particular place and happens at a particular moment. It is history, events, relationships between people, all concentrated in the unique here and now.
That’s how I perceive my work – as the essence of creation, a never-ending process, involving everyone without distinctions between performers and the recipients of art. There are no creators and audience because art is born along the boundaries between their worlds, feeding from both of them, breathing and gradually taking shape, gaining its autonomous existence. The work abandons concepts such as “professional” and “amateur”, because most important is what these share: the process of creation itself, an evolution of meanings, metamorphoses in expectations and associations. There are no traditional discussions, either, because we don't focus on the word but on expression. There is no supremacy, no predominance of a single voice – a constructive dispute comes to life in a dialogue using creative and theatrical tools.
And this is my main goal: a dialogue between the past and future of Wrocław, a dialogue at the heart of this multicultural city, a dialogue among artistic diasporas directly linked with its history in a melting pot of Polish, Ukrainian, J, German and Czech elements. Art, though it can't be contained within borders, can't exist without its setting in a particular space. Most important in a creative process are points of view and stories of people related to this space – in this way, our life becomes the life of art itself, our space – the space of culture and us as a society, its matter.
In the art of performance, we celebrate storytelling and history above and beyond realism of any form. Our rehearsals begin without a text. We start with a dialogue about expectations, outcomes, stories, and only later do we inscribe this dialogue into a theatrical form – we give it a specific shape, its meaning as important as the idea it carries.
The true power of this art isn't in its market value, and it's this that constitutes its greatest potential. If we demanded that it become a simple commercial commodity, brought to life as the result of a calculable “transaction”, it wouldn't only lose its spirit, it would simply stop being art. But the power of poetic, theatrical metaphors is incredible. It protects the Theatre de Creación from becoming simply devised, site-specific political theatre. And allows the method of creating a performance to become in itself a tool for social communication – a pedagogical approach both to the training of theatre makers and – most importantly – to education of the social being. Because performance is a way of thinking about citizenship, and of shaping attitudes within society: creating and promoting involvement in art.
Culture, as we often forget, is a means by which to reflect what it means to be human. Our role, therefore, is to be constantly reminding – and guarding – that it remains inextricably linked with generating social empathy and identity.