The Dogs – by Bojan Djordjev & Stipe Kostanic

November 7, 2012

The Perforations Festival, held in Zagreb, Rijeka and Dubrovnik, from 24th till 31st October 2012, introduced, for the second time the performance The Dogs, performed by Stipe Kostanic and directed by Bojan Djordjev.


Photos taken from Bojan Djordjev’s flickr (c)

The Dogs was written by French author Herve Guibert, who referred to it as pornographic book, but under complicated S&M relations, there’s an unspoken text about power which is not only sexual and emotional domination, but a political one. The body as political place, the single frame of our being whose structure is only partly negotiable…

Dogs are exposed through the Body and that Body absorbs the sexual energy from the Lovers, separated from him by the ceiling…. He is looking down at them, but they are the ones who dictate the course…Longing for love he exposes himself to the irradic interaction with mail dominance, exploring the limits of subordination.

The Master is invisible, although his presence is strongly felt in the energetic state of the performer – his moves, his pulse, the choreography of his muscles and the focus of his eyes are the reflection of the Masters actions… The Power is there, overtaking the physical shape of the Dog and manipulating with it. Of course, the Dog(s) like(s) his Master….

The audience is pulled into the scene as voyeurs – only one row encircling the stage, so the heads of the anonymous viewers are peeping on the ridge of the actor’s space. While the performer is immersed in the act which is uncompromisingly provocative, the faces of viewers spontaneously reflect their status: agreeing, with puzzling smile, disapproving, objecting, or not responding.

There is only one actor, but many characters are in the play, all of them using this single body for reflection of their own text. Therefore the presence of the performer is strongly coded through the multitude of Others. The tension is created through the anticipation of the limit – how far will the S&M lead us, where is the ultimate climax, who’s gonna pull the game? And of course, will the audience stand it?

The energetic and bold performance of Stipe Kostanic puts the viewer in the awkward position – the acting is persuasive, strong, direct and sincere therefore discarding all the possible objections; but the very subject that goes deep in the intimacy of human being disturbs the average taste and pushes the viewer in the conflict with himself.
At the end of the performance there was an unsettling question: what is the correlation between private and public – do we choose to be Dogs, do we enjoy it and is the Master outside or inside?

The work was written under the strong influence of Michele Foucault, a friend of Herve Guibert, very early in Guibert’s life. Discourse analysis would give the preference of the intellectual upon the artistic experience of the performance and the latter was perfectly synchronized between the actor and the director. The seeing makes the reading unnecessary.

Bojan Djordjev, born in 1977 in Belgrade, is a theatre auteur who is equally active in institutional and independent theatre. He is a co-founder and member of the editorial board of the TkH (Walking Theory) collective. His interest in theatre and performance includes collective authorship, working with experimental playwriting and post-drama theatre.

Stipe Kostanic  began his acting career with roles in theatre, on television and on the radio, and has so far performed in theatres in Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia, and appeared at several national, European and international festivals, including the Queer Zagreb Festival in 2011, with Joseph.


(Ivana Podnar is a co-blogger on Body Pixel)

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