Tanja Šljivar

Artist in Residence
Period of Stay: 
October 2020 - January 2021
Independent author, playwright, Serbia
Project Title: 
National theater (the novel)
Project Abstract: 

After working for a year as an artistic director at the National Theatre in Belgrade, I want to write a novel based on that, in many aspects, extreme experience. While working in such a high position, I was struggling with supra-systems of capitalism, patriarchy and cultural institutions. I will use a range of materials, so that the final body of text would differ in its poetic qualities: theoretical texts in the field of institutional critique (Anthropology of institutions by Virno, The institutions of fictions by Monaco, The imaginary institution by Castoriadis), my own notes and memories of the events in the institution I was curating (varying in quality from anecdotal to political ones), documents I was granted access to (contracts, e-mails), as well as fictional chapters containing pseudo-manifesto monologues in which the role of such an institution is described from the different perspectives of employees, cultural journalists, citizens and politicians. The National Theatre represents the values of the national state. In 2019 in Serbia, while the capital city had constantly been “under reconstruction,” the repertoire, the working conditions and ethics in the theatre mirrored the state of precarity, insecurity and alert of the country. And yet its 150-year long history is a guarantee for transforming non-art into art for a primarily bourgeois audience.