Ivan Medenica

Ivan Medenica

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2011/12, 2012/13

A native of Belgrade, Ivan Medenica studied at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, where he completed his PhD thesis entitled “Actualization and Deconstruction as Models of Directing Drama Classics.” He is an associate professor at the FDA, where he teaches history of world drama and theatre. He regularly publishes articles in national and international journals. He chaired or co-chaired three of the international symposia of theatre critics and experts organized by the prestigious Serbian theatre festival Sterijino Pozorje in Novi Sad and the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC). He has participated in a number of international conferences, such as in St. Etienne, Moscow, Vienna, Budapest, Avignon, Thessaloniki, Sofia and Lisbon. He has received a number of national awards for his theatre criticism and was the artistic director of Sterijino Pozorje. Medenica is one of the editors of the theatre magazine Teatron, and he holds the post of Adjunct General Secretary at the IATC.

Research Project

The Work of József Nagy

My research focuses on the opus of one of the most important Serbian theatre figures: choreographer, director, performer and visual artist József Nagy. His opus will be examined in the context of interweaving performance cultures. The performative aspect is the central value of Nagy’s art and manifests itself in the combination of different practices, including postmodern dance, martial arts (wrestling, aikido), circus, mime and contact improvisation. This dimension of Nagy’s art is further enhanced by the fact that it envelops live performance techniques from visual arts and music. As such, his performances often incorporate concerts or painting/drawing/sculpturing in front of the audience. There is another aspect of Nagy’s work that belongs to the concept of interweaving performance cultures — his culturally diverse inspiration. He is very much influenced by his origins, his hometown of Kanjiža, a small town situated in the north of Serbia with a sizeable Hungarian population (the community Nagy belongs to). Nagy is equally inspired by urban legends from Kanjiža and its natural environment, with the huge plain and the river Tisa. Either as motifs or as tangible ingredients (props and decor), Nagy uses clay, mud, water, grain and wood. But Nagy’s inspiration is not limited to the local context. With references to the works of Otto Tolnai, Franz Kafka, Bruno Schulz and others, it includes the central European context in general. Moreover, his art crosses these boundaries, too, to draw inspiration from traditions and specific artworks from France, Latin America and Japan. The social element of Nagy’s art is not found in explicit political commitment (which doesn’t exist) but in this very diverse cultural context of his life and art (“the private as the political”).

Recommended Publications

  • Bloedé, M., Les Tombeaux de Josef Nadj, Paris: Editions L’œil d’or, 2006.
  • Meerzon, Y., Performing Exile, Performing Self: Drama, Theatre, Film, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  • Tibor, V., “Knowable and Unknowable Worlds: the dance theatre of Josef Nadj,” in Performance Research, vol. 5, no. 1., 2000, pp. 99-105.
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung