Marta Popivoda – Theory at Work
+49 17 44 09 43 17 — marta.popivoda@tkh-generator.net

Marta Popivoda’s (b. 1982 Belgrade) work explores concerns with the discursive power structure of the contemporary art world as well as with the Yugoslav cultural and political sphere, more about
through the production of films, try
video installations, stomach
photography and performance. Her work is strongly related to the TkH (Walking Theory), a theoretical-artistic platform and journal, where she is a member of the editorial collective. Her works have been part of exhibitions and programs at Tate Modern London, M HKA Antwerp, 21er HAUS Vienna, the Beirut Art Center, Musée de la danse Rennes, MSUM Ljubljana, Arsenal Berlin, Matadero and La Casa Encendida Madrid, Forum des Images and MK2 Beaubourg Paris, Beursschouwburg and Kaaitheater Brussels, Museum of Yugoslav History and Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade etc. Her latest feature documentary Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body premiered at the 63rd Berlinale within Forum Expanded, and was later screened at great number of film festivals worldwide, like Festival dei Popoli Florence, Sarajevo Film Festival, DZM Docs Seoul, Home Works Beirut, Beldocs Belgrade, Zagreb Dox, Mumbai International Film Festival, Watch Docs Warsaw, Make Dox Skopje, DOK Leipzig, etc.

Popivoda is initiator of illegal_cinema (Belgrade, Paris, Bilbao) and artistic director of REZ, contemporary experimental film festival in Belgrade. She studied philosophy, holds BA and an MA in film directing from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade and Meisterschülerin postgraduate degree in experimental film from the Universität der Künste Berlin. For her studies in Germany she received a DAAD scholarship. In 2014 she was selected for Berlinale Talents program by Berlin International Film Festival, and in 2015 she is a recipient of the Berlin Art Prize for the visual arts by Akademie der Künste.

BOXING MATCH — ready-made theatre
performance as final phase of research project

Premiere: February 17, overweight
2007, Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade

Authors team:
(devided into fictional disciplinary roles)

directing: Bojan Djordjev
dramaturgy: Ana Vujanović
sets: Siniša Ilić
video: Marta Popivoda
production: Jelena Knežević


boxer 1: Aleksandar Cigaranović
trainer 1: Marko Mirilović
boxer 2: Bojan Knežić
trainer 2: Milivoje Bašić
referee: Dobrivoje Radanović
timer: Jovica Jovanović
MC: Novo Keranović


medical crew: Zdravko Nerać & Ana Dondur
bookie: Slavica Vučković
technical realisation of the sets: Rade Mitić
supervisor: Ljubiša Ignjatović Čupa

Dramaturgy coaching: Ivana Ivković, Iskra Gešoska, Milan Marković(assistant)

TkH – Centre for Performing Arts Theory and Practice
CZKD – Centre for Cultural Decontamination

Saturday, February 17, 2007, 20.00h
CZKD, Birčaninova 21, Belgrade

Supported by:
Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Culture
Pro Helvetia Swiss Cultural Programme Serbia and Montenegro

45 minutes


Performance “Boxing Match” is a literal ready-made theatre. Ready-made is a well known 20th century avant-guarde artistic practice, developed mainly in visual arts. It consists of taking every-day, non-artistic objects or events, their transposition in the artistic context and declaring them for works of art. This practice is a critique and questioning of the art institutions done by Duchamp, through Fluxus, Warhol, minimalist dance, and the numerous contemporary, post-modern artists. However, in performing arts, ready-made appears sporadically and only as ‘partly ready-made’. Some of the artists using it are: Augusto Boal, Rimini Protokoll, Jérôme Bel, etc. We have decided to introduce this practice in the local theatre context and convey it consequently and literally till the final instance.

Performance “Boxing Match” is, in that way, a literal boxing match, realised according to all professional standards of boxing as a sport (from first league boxers, to first-class referee, to number and duration of the rounds, points, ring, bets, etc.). However, that boxing match is transplanted in the institution of theatre, and surrounded with literal theatre protocol: theatre venue, poster, tickets, authors team, theatre audience, premiere, cocktail afterwards, etc.

For this performance, the choice of boxing as a sport is not crucial, but it was chosen for the premiere for many reasons – from a long history of boxing in theatre, Brecht’s text of activating theatre audience, dramatic elements of boxing (clash, protagonist, antagonist, dramaturgical pyramid, defined stage, etc.). It is possible to change the sport form performance to performance, that is, from context to context.

This performance is a result of 6 months research (Boxing Match – Ready Made Theatre) in the field of contemporary theatre and institutional theory of theatre done by the team of authors/collaborators from TkH. During research, we had discussions on ontology of theatre, protocols of societal and/as artistic institutions, and on “weak histories of art” of the 20th century. We were also dealing with creation of theatre dispositifs, constitution of local doxa, and questions of contemporary theatre spectatorship. Special attention was paid to the problems of work-production-practice in theatre today, notions of virtuosity and event, as well as political aspects of the relation between poiesis and praxis. The research was continued with reflections on the public event itself – the performance. The results of the research and the documentation of the performance are published in the publication TkH vam predstavlja: BOKS MEČ, ready made teatar (TkH Presents: BOXING MATCH, Ready Made Theatre) in 2007.

Philip Glass

Malo pozorište / Little theatre „DUŠKO RADOVIĆ”
Music by Philip Glass

Les Enfants Terribles / Derišta
dance opera based on the work by Jean Cocteau
Adaptation/Adaptacija: Philip Glass, Susan Marshall
Narrator’s text/Tekst naratora: Ana Vujanović
Translation/Korišćen prevod: Bora Glišić

Authors team/Autorski tim:
Bojan Đorđev, Siniša Ilić, Maja Mirković, Jelena Novak, Marta Popivoda, Ana Vujanović

Dragana Bulut, Ana Dubljević, Čarni Đerić, Dušan Murić

Musical direction/Muzičko vođstvo: Srđan Marković

Elisabeth: Branislava Podrumac (Soprano)
Paul: Marko Kalajanović (Baritone)
Gérard: Ljubomir Popović (Tenor)
Agathe/Dargelos: Ana Radovanović (Mezzo soprano)
Jean Cocteau: Miloš Timotijević

Pianists/Pijanisti: Nada Kolundžija, Sonja Lončar i Andrija Pavlović
Dancers/Plesači: Dragana Bulut, Ana Dubljević, Čarni Đerić, Chris-Gerard Heyward, Ivana Koraksić, Dušan Murić, Milica Pisić/ Nevena Jovanović, Miloš Timotijević

Stage movement/Scenski pokret: Čarni Đerić

French language coach/Lektor za francuski jezik: Stefan Mladenović

In coproduction with Jugokoncert and Dom omladine Beograda

Special thanks to: Children’s Cultural Center Belgrade, Lyra Style, Pozorište Boško Buha, Jugoslovensko dramsko pozorište, Muzička škola „Stanković“, Kulturni centar Beograda, Kulturni centar Rakovica, Francuski kulturni centar, Ivan Brusić, Ivana Cmiljanović, Ivana Ilić, Una Mirković, Igor Stepanović





We are staging the opera Les enfants terribles as a performance of musical theatre which – unlike poststructuralist and postdramatic conception of a performance as a set of ’stage texts’– consists of several artistic fields, disciplines, each with its own history and specific problems. That is why, apart from opera, this performance includes dance, postmodern performance art and video art. In such a configuration, these artistic fields bring different artistic tactics of representation. Representation is essential for the narrative itself – the brats constantly ’represent’ themselves to each other and play social roles, so it is treated both thematically and methodologically in this performance. Decomposition of representation becomes one of the main procedures in directing and dramaturgy of this question-posing performance of musical theatre. Different manners of representation have different political and ideological, and not just esthetic dimensions. The main move is differentiation of representation and performance: the opera remains in the domain of fiction and illusionism, the dance operates with zero degree of representation – ’pedestrian’ execution of tasks, while the performance of the narrator and video art belong to postmodern tactics of theatralization and cultural recycling.


Children (teenagers) in the novel and the opera are not good and sterile children-ornaments, innocent and with no vices, they are, on the contrary, presented stripped of all romanticist notions in relation to the stereotypical (petty bourgeois and puritan) image – as (young) people with various flaws and virtues, vices, passions etc. But their anti-petty bourgeois unconventionality and debauchery are made possible by their social status, so what is the subject of criticism here is in fact their privileged status, not their debauchery. Their social status, i.e. class, is their blind spot for them, like for Cocteau and for Glass. They remain in their small isolated world, while outside important developments are taking place which truly concern us (the authors team and the audience). Their communication in the opera is conducted through the game of domination and submission in a soft, snug and protected space of the room which is self-cleaned and tidied, their movement is superfluous, so most of the scenes they spend lying down or reclining on their pink balloon. We find brats in an EMO sub-culture, the enfants terribles of modern society. They are rebels according to program, but in the form of a specific escapism. Their rebellion does not destroy the world, but withdraws from it, refusing to accept it. However, the problem is that they are a part of that world and like every other subculture they operate in the market both as a product and as consumers.


Dance/choreography in the Les enfants terribles does not extend throughout the performance, but is one of its segments. Its function is to show the constructive character of the opera which is composed and decomposed on stage, on the spot. The voices of the authors of the staging are also mostly represented through the dance as the direct intervention in the tissue of the opera. Four choreographers invite four dancers – couples – and through dancing performance, ’duets’, they reconsider the foundations on which couples are formed. Through behavioral manifestations by which a couple is structured different relations between two people are offered, not based on domination and submission, fetishization, exploitation and manipulation (like in the narrative of the opera), but on the capability to see the other one as the (autonomous, different and asymmetrical) other one, and not as an object of manipulation. In this way, the interest in people and the world around us is recognized, as well as activity in relation to it; understanding oneself along with others / as one’s equal.

Conceptually, dancers have the function of a social mechanism which enables the action of the opera to proceed, they are a fluctuating multitude on the stage and do not participate in the illusion but create, interrupt, challenge, question, or ignore it. This makes it clear that rebellious enfants terribles cannot be that by themselves and outside a certain social context which provides such a lifestyle for them.

Narrator (Jean Cocteau)

Cocteau, the ambivalent avant-garde artist, wrote his novel Les enfants terribles in just three weeks, during his opium abstention crisis. In the novel, there are numerous allusions to addiction and autism caused by opium consumption. In our staging, Gérard is deprived of the role of the narrator in the opera and it is assigned to Cocteau himself – in order to force the writer to face his own work. In majority of his films, Cocteau appears as the narrator, some kind of a nacisoid figure, artist, poet who is important and sanctions with his authority. Such position of Cocteau is radicalized through (critical) (self-)reflection and some sort of Brechtian commentaries of scenes. The narrator in Les enfants terribles is simultaneously a part of the fiction and a part of reflection about it – Cocteau faced with his own characters and ’blind spots’ in their vision.


Together with that of the narrator, the role of the mediator and commentator is assumed by a video which is created in postproduction procedure. It consists of the recycled material from Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Dreamers, the narrative of which is directly inspired by Cocteau’s novel, with the only difference that the film tried to locate the narration in a specific social context of ’Paris 68’. Here the film at times replaces ’one channel’ of opera’s staging – its image or sound or it flows simultaneously. In the scene of a rock which bumps into the protected world of Bertolucci’s dreamers/enfants from the street, pleonasmically, the film bumps in the world of Glass’s Les enfants terribles.

The authors’ team


On the authors’s team (in alphabetical order)

Bojan Đorđev (theatre director), Siniša Ilić (visual artist), Maja Mirković (visual artist), Jelena Novak (art theoretician), Marta Popivoda (video artist and cultural worker), Ana Vujanović (freelance theoretician of performing arts and culture) have been longtime associates on projects of TkH (Teorija koja Hoda /Walking Theory/; www.tkh-generator.net), a platform for performing arts theory and practice, and other artistic projects. They sign this staging of the opera Les enfants terribles as a team of authors. They thus continue with their investigation of the concept and practice of collective authorship and varying procedures in working, this time in an institutional theatre, decentralizing and challenging the strictly hierarchically established functions of authors in the institutions of culture.
≈ QUEER ≠ / 11 minutes of re-politicization of personal position


≈ Queer ≠ / 11 minutes of re-politicization of personal position from marta.popivoda on Vimeo.

Documentation of the video installation:

≈ QUEER ≠ ; 11 minutes of repolitization of personal position, cheap video installation, stomach
in collaboration with A. Vujanović, CZKD – Pavilion Veljković, Belgrade

CZKD – Pavilion Veljković, Belgrade


excerpt 1 from marta.popivoda on Vimeo.

Video documentation for video scenography for multimedial inscenation of Orfeus and Eurydice, health opera by C. W. Gluck.

Opera directed by: Bojana Cvejić
Video directed by: Marta Popivoda
Dramaturgy: Ana Vujanović

37. BEMUS (Belgrade Music Festival), 2005
Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade


Orfeo and Eurydice, excerpt 2 from marta.popivoda on Vimeo.

Video documentation for video scenography for multimedial inscenation of Orfeus and Eurydice, opera by C. W. Gluck.

Opera directed by: Bojana Cvejić
Video directed by: Marta Popivoda
Dramaturgy: Ana Vujanović

37. BEMUS (Belgrade Music Festival), 2005
Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade


read more
excerpt from marta.popivoda on Vimeo.

Video documentation for the music theatre performance OPERRRRA (is of female gender)

Performance directed by: Bojan Đorđev
Video directed by: Marta Popivoda

BELEF 05 (Belgrade Summer Festival), 2005
Botanical garden “Jevremovac”, Belgrade

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