I Don’t Know That Word… Yet! (2021) -opera performance-
video, opera, performance, music, research based, performative, sound, objects
61 minutes performance, also as a HD Video with sound
I Don’t Know That Word… Yet (2022)
Since 2013, Dejan Kaludjerović has been developing the Conversations series, which is based on interviews with children, six to ten years old, from different socio-economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. Each time, a series of about fifty questions is asked. So far, the artist has interviewed forty-nine children in seven countries and eight cities—Vladikavkaz, Belgrade, Baku, Tehran, Vienna, Jerusalem, Ljubljana, and Graz—for a total duration of approximately twenty-seven hours.
These interviews have been exhibited as site-specific sound installations, where the children enter into a dialogue through editing, reacting within the installation to one another’s stances on political issues such as social exclusion and inclusion, foreigners, language, isolation, war, money, poverty, work, etc. Each Conversation turns into a litmus test forthe society and the period in which it was created.
The assemblage of conversations is a database of knowledge, which has now been used to create a new piece. Witty, hilarious, poignant, and insightful answers by children become the source material for an opera performance, produced by artist Dejan Kaludjerović for steirischer herbst ’21 in collaboration with composer Marija Balubdžić, theater director Bojan Djordjev, and librettist Tanja Šljivar.
The libretto for the opera is divided into eight songs or sequences, following associative logic rather than a logic of realistic plot development. The songs deal with comfort and discomfort, plays on language, gender, and stereotypes. Their structure varies from typical repetitive forms—call-and-response among two choirs or soloists and choirs—to more monologic and experimental ones.
Musically, the piece starts with four voices performing a cappella and it then develops a complex interweaving of vocals and added layers of electronic sounds. At times, the electronic parts are derived from sampling the original interviews, turning, for example, the children’s voices into beats, chords, and soundscapes. Music genres and singing styles of singing progress from pop and house to hymnic, burlesque, and full-scale “operatic,” aiming to give shape tothe language play, the associative principle, and the emotional resonance of both the original artwork and the libretto.
The piece is performed by four adult performers of different musical backgrounds; that the textual material wasproduced by children is not apparent or emphasized from the very beginning. The staging is based on task-like actionsby the performers that establish a connection with the ambiance as well with props—oversized children’s games—taken from the original Conversations installations, such as alphabet cubes, pick-up sticks, Hula-Hoops, elastics, etc.
The one-channel video work with sound “I Don’t Know That Word… Yet” (2022) is a specialy filmed opera performance “Conversations: I don’t know that word… yet”.
Performers: Zoja Borovčanin, Lisa Cristelli, Christoph Gerhardus, Sebastian Hiti
The trailer of the video: