Cabaret of an Intruder
Performance January 14, 2017 at 3 pm
Discussion at 4:30 pm between the artist and CIRCA art
actuel’s director Émilie Granjon.
Tis some visitor…
tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.
The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
The performances of Branko Milisković know no boundaries—he is an ‘intruder’ par excellence. Throughout his oeuvre, in works such as Lili Marlene, Interloper, Couvre-feu, APPOINTED, Ceçi n’est pas UN garçon a la Pipe, he uses costume, make-up, song and character to break up the experience of the everyday and to create a disorienting spectacle for the audience.
In Cabaret of an Intruder he pushes the idea of a cabaret to the next level. Originally an informal form of theatre, performed in a pub or restaurant, with unconventional content, however in Milisković’s show, the artist breaks the fourth wall and forces his audience into often uncomfortable situations, singing directly to them, beckoning for them to approach him and crowd around him, imploring them to come closer than most audiences ever would.
For Milisković, the Intruder is someone who infiltrates a particular group of people with the aim of understanding and even ‘colonising’ them. In his words, the Intruder’s aim is “to adapt, assimilate as well as to become a member of certain group but somehow, sooner or later, an intruder is unable to make it all the way through, becoming very suspicious as an element that doesn’t belong to the group, clearly interfering.” In this performance, the Intruder doesn’t fit in from the beginning, appearing before the audience in gender-ambiguous stage make-up and quirky, albeit masculine clothing—a bow tie and suspenders. He invades the viewers’ personal space, singing old-timey melancholic tunes such as Irving Berlin’s 1923 ballad “What’ll I do,” while staring directly into the eyes of one of the audience members.
The performance starts with the artist reading Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, The Raven, which he uses as the “ultimate symbol of the Intruder, knocking on the door, bringing all possible fears, demons and anxiety to the storyteller.” As the Intruder, it gradually becomes clear that Milisković will make no attempt to adapt, but rather will continue to play on the fears and insecurities of the audience, not only putting them in awkward positions, but invoking their anxieties by providing them with a range of situations and experiences.
But what is the purpose of this Intruder in our lives? If it is through the ‘Other’ that the self is defined, then Milisković provides the perfect mirror to reflect all of our deepest and most hidden emotions. There is nowhere in the theatre to hide from this trespasser. In confronting him, we are forced to confront all of our demons. In exchange, the Intruder learns everything about us, and perhaps in this way he can ultimately fit in.
Text by Amy Bryzgel
Branko Milisković was born in the former Yugoslavia in 1982 and currently lives in Belgrade, Serbia. As a child, he was part of the last generation of Marshall Tito’s Pioneers, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s political movement for 7-year-old children. In Belgrade, Serbia, Milisković pursued studies in architecture at the Architectural Engineering School, industrial design at Belgrade’s Polytechnic High School and sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Arts. In 2007, he was awarded the Dutch HSP Huygens scholarship and in 2009, he received a BA from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, the Netherlands. Three years later, Milisković completed his MA at Hochschule für bildende Künste, in Hamburg, Germany. His work and his performances have been presented in Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Serbia, Israel, Russia, Poland, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, Scotland, UK and the USA. He is represented by Les Halles in Brussels, G12Hub in Serbia and Kampnagel in Hamburg.
Dr. Amy Bryzgel is Senior Lecturer in Film and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on performance art in the former communist countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Her first book, Performing the East: Performance Art in Russia, Latvia and Poland since 1980 (IB Tauris, 2013), presented case studies of performative work from the region. Her next book, Performance Art in Eastern Europe since 1960, offers a wider picture of the development of the genre, and is forthcoming from Manchester University Press in 2017. You can follow her research on http://www.performingtheeast.com and @PerformTheEast.