CABARET of an INTRUDER, solo performance at CIRCA art actuel, Montreal, Canada / January 14, 2017, Filming by Jonathan Miron Roy
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.
CABARET of an INTRUDER, PERFORM NOW festival, Winterthur, Switzerland / 9 October 2015, Video still
1. The Raven (Edgar A. Poe)
2. Ich hab kein Heimatland
3. Brother can you spare a dime
4. Gloomy Sunday
5. What will I do
6. Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte
7. Lili Marlene
Photos by Gabriel OteroCELEBRITY CAFÉ #1
Metropolis Gallery, Paris, France
26 June 2014
Special thanks to Jacques Donguy and Sarah Cassenti Eng.
CABARET of an INTRUDER has emerged out of several previous works of mine such as THE SONG OF A SOLDIER ON WATCH ( WW3 LILI MARLENE ) and HERR MILISKOVIC ( Leben eines Eindringlings ) /Life of an Intruder/ in which I have been working on a new characters, mainly being driven by personal and inherited history, using my body and personality as a medium, transforming it and tediously building up every single parameter. The main premise of these pieces certainly is a notion of an Intruder. According to my interpretation, an Intruder is an individual system, going from place to place, strategically chosen, intending to position itself and through it´s own possibilities, connections and facilities trying to find out what exactly is going on within certain group, what is the visible part of the iceberg as well as what is under the water, and to find out how to colonize the territory. The main difference between an Intruder and Spy is that an Intruder is not an agent engaged by some third party in order to collect and report precious informations. An Intruder is usually intending 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 which doesn’t belong to the group, clearly interfering. An Intruder is very transparent and unable to pretend if something goes against his wills or plans.
“CABARET of an INTRUDER”, “Cabaret d’un Intrus”, a pour origine des oeuvres qui ont précédé, telles que “THE SONG OF A SOLDIER ON WATCH” (WW3 LILI MARLENE) et “HERR MILISKOVIC” (Leben eines Eindringlings) / Life of an Intruder / où j’avais travaillé sur de nouveaux rôles, principalement tirés de mon histoire personnelle ou héritée, utilisant mon corps et ma personnalité comme un médium, en le transformant et en développant soigneusement chaque paramètre un par un. Le grand principe de ces pièces est certainement cette notion d’Intrus. Selon mon interprétation, la notion d’Intrus repose sur un système individuel qui consiste à aller à travers des territoires stratégiquement choisis, cherchant à se positionner, et à travers ses propres possibilités, ses connections et ses facilités essayant de trouver ce qui en sort exactement à l’intérieur d’un certain groupe, ce qui est la partie visible de l’iceberg aussi bien que celle qui est sous l’eau, et de découvrir comment coloniser le territoire. La principale différence entre un Intrus et un Espion est qu’un Intrus n’est pas un agent engagé par une tierce personne quelconque dans le but de collecter et de recueillir des informations précieuses. Habituellement, un Intrus cherche à s’adapter, à s’assimiler de façon à devenir membre d’un certain groupe, mais d’une façon ou d’une autre, tôt ou tard, un Intrus est incapable de faire cela jusqu’au bout, devenant très suspect comme un élément qui n’appartient pas au groupe, qui clairement interfère. Un Intrus est très transparent et incapable de feindre si quelque chose va contre sa volonté ou ses plans. Dans ce cas, un Intrus devient très poignant et plutôt déplaisant et peut disparaître soudain, en ne laissant pas ou très peu de traces derrière lui.