Act I, Act II

 

 

 

 »Act I, Act II«, a video work in two parts, presents us with a staged real-life scenario, where one of the protagonists, inhabiting a fictive character, entwines in a meta-level of ‘acted’ reality and personal narrative.»Act I« (24’55″, 2010) shows an interrogation session involving an asylum seeker, an immigration officer and a simultaneous interpreter. What is not evident at first sight is that all three protagonists are actually role-players, who work together in an agency that provides training services to military and immigration organizations in the Netherlands. Thus, the situation we observe is fictive, none of the protagonists are in their real life what they claim to be in the video. Only an outline of the situation performed in the session is given, and, therefore, the entire narrative is an improvisation by these three men. They are not trained actors; however they each perform their role flawlessly. Following Zdjelar’s minimal yet tactile cinematography, that swings back and forth between detachment and intimacy, we are entwined in a blurry web of authenticity. We witness, how, by performing the fictive role through body and language, the main protagonist has an emotional outburst, which leaves us wondering whether he is in fact playing the role or the role is playing him. It is uncertain when the protagonist is acting and when he encounters his genuine self since the actual and the personal, the social and the individual merge into one persistent narrative.

In »Act II«(5′, 2010) the main protagonist from »Act I«, a Serbian immigrant, land surveyor by vocation, reappears. Encouraged by his role-playing for the agency he decides to become a movie actor. The video follows roles he has been offered. They all have something in common: either the films were never released or he has been cut out from the final edit; when he does appear however, he appears very briefly and then he either dies or is drunk. Recorded in an empty film studio, the video discloses the voice of the protagonist with the camera mainly focussing on the empty space next to him where the leading actors are supposed to appear. Once more we are caught in the twilight of doubt whether the protagonist is performing the character or whether we are confronted with autobiographical notes. Zdjelar follows the protagonist’s strife for re-invention and ‘a better life’, the auspicious attempt to liberate himself from given structures. Shifting between fiction and reality, between political meaning and cultural cliché, the piece resolves in a multi-layered postulation of what is not but yet could be. It draws a sociograph where Zdjelar’s humane and nimble approach to criticality proposes a vocal entity to resonate in a collective hearing.