Sideline programme of the Yugoslav Theatre festival “Without translation”, Užice, 2011
Tatjana Dadić Dinulović, project author
Scene design as artistic and curatorial practice
Term scene design relates to professional, artistic, curatorial, theoretical and ideological practices developed from the expanded meaning of scenography – as semantic category and artistic discipline. It has been introduced into Serbian language to indicate a joint process of conception, creation and realisation of a scene in the broadest sense of the word. Or more precisely, to signify a creation of a complex synaesthetic environment, physical or metaphorical, much broader than actual theatre space, in which scene can be build or thought. In professional theatre practice, scene design connects several artistic disciplines – design of a performing space and set, costume, sound and light design, joint together in the process of creating theatre performance. As a complex artistic and curatorial practice, scene design belongs to interdisciplinary field – it stands at the crossroads of theatre, architecture, visual arts, performance, installation, site-specific projects, written text and new media, but also interdisciplinary art per se. By taking the space “in between” disciplines, scene design becomes an open model for artistic research and practice, as well as a core drive for a large number of artistic and curatorial works. Since orientation towards a “white cube“ (an ideal exhibition space) or a “black box” (an ideal performing space) has undoubtedly been questioned, there is a possibility for a hybrid environment in which belonging to a discipline, except in ideological sense, seizes to be the most important topic. As a result of this process, scene design outside theatre practice can be defined not only as “scenography expanded” but as art on its own. Every process which includes scenic way of thinking, scenographic means of expression and ”desire” to become a spectacle can be defined as independent scene design artwork.
Scene design space
“Scene Design Space” programme is showcasing artistic and curatorial practices of scene design in Serbia and the region. The first selection criterion has been my personal perception of the works, followed by diversity of artistic outcomes, forms and means of expression, variety of performing environments and types of audience, as well as specific circumstances in which works were created or diversity of media used. It is also important to note the range of artists’ profiles – in terms of their formal education, areas of work and means of expression, or their conscious or unintentional decision to use scene design as way of thinking.
There are three reasons why the Yugoslav Theatre Festival “Without translation” serves as natural environment for such a curatorial – artistic project.
First relates to the fact that, usually, theatre festivals are places to “exhibit” and evaluate set and costume design; less often composed music or selected stage music; and rarely sound or light design, or any other aspect of scene design in theatre. In this context, Showcase programme aims at emphasising the need for recognition and articulation of theatre scene components – visual, auditive and all other media lines addressing different senses or all senses at the same time. Naturally, once again, we need to remember the Biennial of Scene Design, the most important and the largest manifestation dedicated to design and technical production in performing arts in this part of Europe, officially using term scene design for the first time in Yugoslavia/Serbia. Dealing with various forms of performing activities, this manifestation has determined the framework for further development of scene design, mainly in terms of conventional drama theatre and national production but, also, applicable to other forms of artistic work. Second reason relates to the physical space of the National Theatre in Užice, not only because this is one of the rare contemporary buildings in ex-Yugoslavia purposely designed for theatre, but also because it has a unique urban position, both in terms of character and meaning. It holds a dominant position in the city
centre and, at the same time, represents an “urban royal box” from which the monumental stage of the Partizan Square can be perceived. One of the rare, if not the only, square left by contemporary urbanism to our cities, this square brings huge performing potential and meaning – in terms of historical, cultural, environmental and, even, ideological sense. And finally, artistic and production efforts of the Yugoslav Theatre Festival to preserve its nominal and cultural importance, as well as to continue its development with the same title and in circumstances which by no means are favourable, represents an important and unusual fact for the culture in Serbia and Serbian society in general. Selection of works in the Showcase programme directly is based on these three issues.