An intriguing performance from Krzysztof Garbaczewski, based on legendary anthropological texts by Bronisław Malinowski, exploring the nature of taboo, the boundaries of sexuality and the paradox of anthropology was staged at Nowy Theatre
Anthropology, a relatively young science, builds its status quo on the Other, the Alien, or as anthropology precursors called it, the Savage, which became a fascination and negative reflection of the developing mass culture in the 20th century. The team behind the production has declared their aim was not so much a staging of the works, but rather an attempt at confronting his observations with the modern-day view of the area of taboo and eroticism.
Garbaczewski calls his Sexual Life of Savages a "theatrical installation" that instates an artistic bend on scientific discourse. He scrutinises the work through visual and theatrical means in order to compare how Malinowski's audacious thesis functions decades later within a rapidly-evolving civilisation. It is an attempt at formulating a dialogue with a text over seventy years old and yet it is also an attempt at finding out what and who is seen as "savage" by our modern society.
The idea of the Other, the Alien or the Savage fascinated the audience of the culture of mass communication of the twentieth century. Malinowski's The Sexual Life of Savages in North Western Melanesia (published in 1926, the Polish edition 1938) was a pioneering work in the field of ethnography, examining the tribal customs of natives from natives of the Trobriand Islands, British New Guinea and how they related to Europe's culture of taboo and illicit sexual activity. To this day, the concept of taboo and human sexuality remains as fascinating as ever.
As a chief theoretician of functionalism, Malinowski promoted the innovative method of intensive field research, distancing himself from the so-called cabinet anthropology based on reading and textual analysis. His method was not immensely popular with the anthropologists, chiefly concentrated on issues regarded as shocking and unusual in their contrast to the Western world norms, such as lust and incest. The study proved lethal to the natives after they were stricken with diseases brought over from Europe. As Jean Baudrillard once remarked, "The paradox of the anthropology is that it annihilates the subject of its research".
The artists set the search for the place of "the Savage" in the post-modern reality as parallel to the search for a theatrical language of their own. The idea of the savage himself places the theatrical activities of Krzysztof Garbaczewski in the area of counterculture. Moreover, the project is supposed to uncover the dark sides to Malinowski's research, especially as far as his attitude towards the subject of the research is concerned, as revealed in the anthropologist's diaries. Garbaczewski and his team assert that upon "entering the twentieth century, Europe did need the figure of 'the Savage' to maintain their identity and ascertain the chosen direction of the development of their civilisation was a proper one. Do we still see it as a proper one today?"
Krzysztof Garbaczewski is one of the most talented directors of the new generation. His performances have been staged at the theatres of Opole, Wrocław and Wałbrzych and numerous theatre festivals in Poland - meeting with overwhelming critical acclaim. Transcending the boundaries associated with typical theatrical repertoire, each time he explores theatrical matter in a different way and conducts a continuous experiment with physicality and the actor's presence on stage. His statements are rebellious and oppose the conformism of today's world and today's theatre.
The Sexual Life of Savages is the third original performance produced in collaboration with Marcin Cecko, the author of the adaptation. Marcin Cecko is a performer, a poet, a co-author of the Neo-linguistic Manifesto, the widely discussed statement of young writers that defines anew the role of literature in the context of electronic media.
The Sexual Life of Savages based on a book by Bronisław Malinowski; script, dramaturgy: Marcin Cecko; direction: Krzysztof Garbaczewski; design and conception of the island: Aleksandra Wasilkowska; music: Jan Duszyński; costumes: Ania Kuczyńska; movement: Claude Bardouil; the cast: Justyna Białowąs, Dominika Biernat, Sebastian Łach, Jacek Poniedziałek, Paweł Smagała, Maciej Stuhr, Justyna Wasilewska, Krzysztof Zarzecki. Production: Nowy Teatr, co-producers: Zamek Ujazdowski Centre for Contemporary ArtFestival Temps d'Images and Nowy Teatr.
The performance premiered as part of the Temps d'Images Performance Art Festival taking place in Warsaw between March 11 - April 17, 2011.