[ARENA] "Porto Comunidade"

mig.vir gmail.com mig.vir gmail.com
Terça-Feira, 23 de Setembro de 2008 - 22:54:08 WEST

"Porto Comunidade"
Projecto organizado por Tobias Hering, Emre Koyuncuoglu e José Roseira.
"Porto Comunidade" pretende iniciar e animar um debate público sobre  
conceitos e expectativas que implicamos a comunidade, modos de  
comunicação política, e experiências pessoais do espaço público  
no Porto. Este projecto baseia-se numa oficina onde será desenvolvida  
uma performance coreografada para um espaço público, que irá  
relacionar narrativas particulares do Porto e dos seus habitantes, a  
sua presença física na paisagem urbana, com os temas políticos  

A oficina terá início na Segunda-Feira, 29 de Setembro, e será  
dirigida pela coreógrafa Emre Koyuncuoglu, de Istanbul. Tanto a  
oficina como a performance serão inspirados por excertos do filme La  
Commune- Paris 1871 de Peter Watkins, mas esperam-se do processo e do  
resultado final que sejam o resultado de um esforço colectivo de  
todos os participantes.

De forma a apresentar o projecto e a convidar mais pessoas à  
participação vamos organizar três eventos entre 25 e 28 de  
Setembro. Em cada um destes eventos vamos mostrar cerca de uma hora  
do filme La Commune, e a projecção será seguida por uma discussão  
sobre o projecto e suas possibilidades no Porto.

"Porto Comunidade" integra a programação de REDline, um projecto  
produzido pela Ideias Emergentes; as apresentações públicas serão  
a 12 e 14 de Outubro.

Sessões Programadas:

Quinta-Feira, 25 de Setembro, 21h no Terraviva, Rua dos Caldeireiros 213

Sexta-Feira, 26 de Setembro, 21h no Uma Certa Falta de Coerência, Rua  
dos Caldeireiros 77

Domingo, 28 de Setembro em Local a Definir

Tobias Hering
heringlik  googlemail.com


Porto comunidade


Concept for a site-specific choreography of film, text, performance,  
and discussion in public space in downtown Porto making use of scenes  
from the film La Commune – Paris 1871 by Peter Watkins (2000), and  
personal perceptions and projections of Portuenses on their city.

Like the film that it quotes and uses fragments of, Porto comunidade  
wants to encourage a critical and imaginative debate about one’s  
community and one’s own participation in it. Porto comunidade will  
develop a suggestive narrative of Porto’s downtown informed by an  
interest in what is understood as “common”. More specifically, the  
performance aims to create through the imaginary of art a temporary  
“community”, a momentary political awareness that may initiate  
repercussions in the way people take part and responsibility in the  
real community of Oporto.

The film La Commune – Paris 1871 offers a complex experience that  
will inevitably strike various different chords in each audience. It  
re-enacts an extremely critical and powerful historical reference,  
the Paris Commune which formally lasted from March 18 till May 28,  
1871. The film was made with mostly amateur actors, a majority of  
whom were in economically precarious or socially marginalized  
situations. Frequent, often controversial discussions on the film  
work itself and on the political issues at stake in the Commune were  
part of the project and are included in the final film.

La Commune – Paris 1871 not only recollects a pivotal historic  
moment. It is also the document of a collective process of self- 
empowerment through role play and debate. It has become a unique  
classic of political filmmaking through its attempt to use film and  
film work as a complex system of signs and actions, whose layers and  
facets – like those of society – cannot be represented in a  
definite and final shape, but will always remain open for re- 
enactment, re-instantiation and re-interpretation. For once, seeing  
an actor totally absorbing the rebellious vigour of his or her  
character and then turning on the camera and relating this experience  
to his or her real life as a political subject, does not leave the  
audience unchallenged. It opens the boundaries between fiction and  
reality, imagination and practice, and turns an expecting eye on the  
audience: What would you have done at the time? And what are you  
doing today? How are your connections to your community and its  
imagined possibilities?

By accentuating thematic suggestions of the film with the  
significance of the screening sites in Porto’s downtown, and by  
developing a choreography of scenes, readings and gestures developed  
on-site with the performers, Porto comunidade will create a tangible  
and more specifically local context for this challenge. The piece  
interweaves several layers of reference, inviting both a cognitive  
and an imaginative approach. The layers will bring into play  
different times and modes of actuality, past, present, future,  
reality, transformation, utopia. These layers of reference could be  
identified as: What was? What is? What can be? But even in this  
tentative chronological order they immediately start intermingling,  
since inevitably whatever was and is, was and is surrounded by  
something that was not and is not, and therefore the question: Why  
did this not happen, and what would the present look like, if it had?  
This kind of dialogue about actualities and possibilities of the city  
is the main intention of the piece and ideally each performance would  
include a collective debate in which the audience can freely express  
their experience with this offer and thus become actors, that is:  
active. After all, it has been a driving force in theatre and  
performance art to investigate different forms of “being in the  
world” and to inform real life performance and behaviour by artistic  

In Porto comunidade, the audience will be taken to a public space in  
the city which many of them will be familiar with as inhabitants,  
commuters, or visitors. They will be presented with performances,  
readings, film scenes, which can dislocate this familiarity and thus  
open up to an imaginary field of possibilities. The relation of the  
citizens to their city can never be defined, and might even escape a  
proper description. One of the fascinations of cities is the stark  
contrast between the seemingly rigid factuality of buildings,  
streets, monuments, and the constant flux of movement and use that  
the people make of this infrastructure. Even where this use does not  
leave a visible trace on the city’s surface, it will contribute  
significantly to the character of a city, to what the city is in a  
given moment.

This constant friction and mingling of a rigid objectivity with a  
practical subjectivity also describes the way the individual relates  
to the community. The political as that which concerns everyone is  
etymologically bound to the city, the polis, as a space for the  
public expression of individual positions and the challenge to  
integrate these with each other. Artistic appropriations of public  
space tend to broaden the realm of this debate and have often served  
to revitalize it when it was threatened by too much routine or  
suppression. Porto comunidade is intended to stimulate a debate and  
understanding of the city as the “common concern” of everybody.

Reference: Former projects with La Commune
The film La Commune – Paris 1871 has never received a wide  
commercial distribution, partly due to its sheer length of 368  
minutes. It is frequently used, however, in specific thematic  
contexts, mostly supported by local initiatives who identify with the  
film’s political scope and enjoy its richness of perspectives. This  
kind of non-commercial and community-specific use is encouraged and  
supported by “Le Rebond pour La Commune”, a Paris-based initiative  
consisting mostly of participants in the film and dedicated to its  

The project Porto comunidade has two predecessors. In 2006, Tobias  
Hering organized a screening of La Commune – Paris 1871 in public  
space in Berlin as part of the annual film festival “globale”. The  
film was shown in its full length, divided into 10 chapters to be  
screened at different informal locations in a low-profile residential  
neighbourhood in the Eastern centre of the city. Since the location  
was changed several times throughout the screening, the concept  
included the idea of turning the “film walk” into a performance of  
its own right making use of public space in a unique and topical  
manner by claiming the film’s issues to be issues for these spaces;  
and these spaces to be spaces for public political debate.

In a first collaboration of Emre Koyuncuoğlu and Tobias Hering in the  
Turkish Black Sea town of Sinop, excerpts of the film were made part  
of a narrative performance involving choreographed dance and theatre  
elements, readings, a live “tour guide”, and a closing discussion  
with the audience in a wide open circle. Sinop Komün-ikasyon’u was  
part of the “Sinopale” 2006, an art biennial that was inaugurated  
that year. The specifics of the piece were largely influenced by the  
location, the former Sinop prison in a medieval fortress towering  
over the city and officially abandoned in 1996 after being in use as  
a state prison for over a century.

Notwithstanding its very specific local setting, the experiences made  
in Sinop in adapting a multi-layered performance piece to a historic  
will inform the production of Porto comunidade. Therefore, some  
aspects of this precedent project shall be discussed here, in order  
to outline possible dynamics.

Site specificity, in Sinop, meant to reflect on the anxieties,  
experiences, and preconceptions about the prison, its meaning for the  
local population as well as Turkey’s political identity. Not only  
was this site by no means a public space; as a prison it was even the  
most dramatic counterpart to such an openness: a space of seclusion  
and segregation, a place whose entire raison d’etre was to hinder  
free movement and to control or break communication.

In the face of this, the “Sinopale” was meant to re-open this  
space, to make it accessible again and to invite audiences to come  
and claim it. This invitation was broadly embraced by the local  
public, for whom the prison had not only been a sinister landmark  
over their city, but also a stigma on their collective identity.  
Sinop was infamous for its prison throughout the country, a remote  
town on the Black Sea coast to which mostly “political” prisoners  
were exiled, people whose behaviour, action or thoughts had deviated  
from what was officially sanctioned as proper and conflicted with the  
interests of those in power. Interestingly, though, while Sinop  
prison became a place where thousands of people were locked away,  
disappeared and died for over a century, the small town around it  
developed a reputation for its relative tolerance towards political  
and religious convictions and became an exile for a heterogeneous  
population of people who were in political and/or legal trouble  

For Sinop Komünikasyon’u, it was necessary to confront the almost  
over-determined gesture of organizing an art biennial in such a  
place. Inevitably this challenge meant to try to give a voice to the  
immensely conflictual narratives of the prison and ultimately to  
those who had been silenced there. Instead of performing and  
stretching the ideal openness of a “public space”, Sinop  
Komünikasyon’u tried to perforate the visible walls and dominating  
limitations of discourse in and around Sinop prison and the political  
practices that took place there and are still taking place elsewhere.  
The piece used historic and contemporary texts, some written in and  
about Sinop prison, choreographed elements developed with 10  
performers on the site, and scenes from the film La Commune – Paris  
1871, which were screened in an accentuated manner, inviting  
imagination, interpretation and infiltration by performers and  
audiences. On each of three nights, the final part of the piece was a  
discussion among all participants – performers, organizers, and  
audience – sitting in a wide, open circle in one of the prison  
yards. Thus, Sinop Komünikasyon’u, by endorsing the gesture of the  
biennial, was an invitation to not only come, see, and listen, but to  
also take part, reply, and react to this invitation. This was broadly  
accepted by some 400 people on three nights, appropriating the space  
and contributing their own projections and experiences around and  
even inside the prison in three final debates, which gave each night  
its unique accentuation.

Enactment and re-enactment can be empowering experiences and are as  
such often employed in performance art. Generally, enactment  
facilitates the step from spectator to participant. Protected by the  
veil of a role one is more likely to become an “actor”, therefore  
active, especially in public space organized by anonymity and the  
gaze. Yet, at the same time, this role play brings into focus the  
general disposition that in order to perform and be recognized in  
public one always has to assume a role, and therefore challenge the  
difference between “real” persona and enacted character. There is  
no guarantee that my performance will be interpreted or recognized as  
how I intend it; however, there is no other way of challenging  
misinterpretation and neglect than to step forward and act.

In Sinop, during a week-long on-site rehearsal, the performers –  
some professional, some not - developed visual interpretations to  
communicate with the untold stories and the unwitnessed history of  
the prison. These performances were meant to untie some of the  
critical knots which any debate about this site was to encounter, and  
to therefore breach the barrier of shame and ignorance that encloses  
many painful experiences, even when they have a collective relevance.  
The scenes from La Commune – Paris 1871 in turn were meant to open a  
broader context of reference for this debate. One of the film’s most  
striking features is the unique engagement of the performers with  
their characters and the narrative they are performing. They  
frequently step out of their roles to freely express their  
reflections on the historic events they are re-enacting and to relate  
these to their actual real life experience.


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