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Original scientific paper

Two Resurrections of Ivan Martinac

Višnja Vukašinović orcid id ; independent researcher, Zagreb, Croatia

Full text: croatian pdf 655 Kb

page 92-105

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In 1989, the film director and poet Ivan Martinac and six other performers carried a dried cherry tree resembling a cross through the historic center of Split. The performance was organized by Martinac and called Nije vrijeme za plodove [It's Not Time for Fruits]. Three years later, Martinac published the poetry collection Ulazak u Jeruzalem [Entry into Jerusalem], where in the poem Rajski vrt [Garden of Eden] he described this performance, invoking the resurrection for himself and the other six performers. The performance functioned as the ritual of preparing for the death of something that is already dead (dry), thus paradoxically enabling resurrection for the performers themselves. Josette Féral sees performance as a phenomenon that is acted through the desire for death, but here the death of the cherry tree can become new life for the performers, one that can make them “enter the Garden of Eden”. What enables their victory over death is a collective sacrifice for something beyond themselves, for a dry cherry tree that should be accompanied to the other world with dignity. The performance thus creates a sort of dream reality in which performers are redeemed by dreaming up and enacting the resurrection of the cherry tree.
Redemption and resurrection are also the themes of Martinac’s only feature film Kuća na pijesku [House on the Sand] (1985), in which he turns everyday gestures into rituals invoking the transcendent. The film uses what David Bordwell calls parametric narration, and Paul Schrader transcendental style in film, which he attributes to directors such as Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer. For Schrader, the transcendental style “tries to maximize the mystery of existence,” and same can be said of performance because it allows mystery to emerge by creating a new version of reality composed of both imagination and fact, as Richard Schechner explained.
The whole of Kuća na pijesku [House on the Sand] is focused on showing the everyday actions of the main character in a formally very specific way, because it is not only the scenes that are repeated, but also the way in which they are composed. Thus, repetitiveness exists both at the level of scenes and that of camera positions and motifs within the frame, as well as the compositions used to represent them. The key element of the imaginary that the film creates are the banal everyday gestures, such as turning on the light or eating at the table. These gestures in the film, as well as in the performance, appear as movements that reveal the deepest mechanisms and that are performed only to discover what lies beneath them, as Féral points out. The entire dramaturgy of Kuća na pijesku [House on the Sand] is not based on dialogue and classical narration, but on the movement of the camera and the protagonist within the frame shaped through gestures that transform the reality in which they appear as a ritual. By structurally insisting on recording the most banal everyday actions and movements that embody them, reality in the film becomes a rite of passage for its protagonists that prepares them for death, just as it was the case with the performers in Nije vrijeme za plodove [It's Not Time for Fruits]. By repeating these gestures to infinity, both the film and the performance achieve a supersaturation of time, space and representation itself, finally producing the disappearance of any attainable meaning. Working in different media, Martinac shaped the mystery of transition to death as a structured ritual gesture, thus implying that resurrection is the responsibility of the living who bravely and imaginatively meet death by creating new life in an artistic act.


Ivan Martinac; performance; It's Not the Time for Fruits; film; House on the Sand; ritual; gesture; resurrection

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