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A talk by Dr Gabriella Calchi-Novati at Forsaken exhibition, Dollard House, Wellington Quay Dublin. The Space of Gerard Mannix Flynn’s “Performances of Inclusion”: Forsaken Heterotopias Continue reading
The decline of the 19th century bourgeois morality, which granted, and not without obstacles, the privilege of citizenship, only to the greatest talents, enabled the actor to achieve a normal social status.
The revolution of the 1920’s turned him into a worker for the avant-garde culture. It was the time when constructivism had the world fascinated with its doctrine of art, defined as a dynamic factor in the organization of life and society.
In many countries, the growth of industrial and technical civilisation was followed by the loss of art’s avant-garde quality and its dynamism, and turned theatre more and more into an institution, while actor, consequently, into its officer.
The once-obtained rights got deformed when clashed with the society of consumption that built its life and ideas on an extreme form of pragmatism, a cult of effectiveness and automatism, each of whose is contrary to the disturbing intervention of art.
The assimilation with such a society ended up in an artistic dullness, indifference and conformism. The degradation was additionally propelled by the development of mass-media: radio, film and television.
The final stage meets attitudes that are always close to one another: moral conformism, a total loss of interest in the formal development and an artistic sclerosis.
Paradoxically, actor’s ‘laicization’ and democratization’ which historically emancipated him, drove him to mediocrity.
The assimilation and recuperation of the artist and his craft by the society of consumption may serve, in the case of actor, as an exemplification of the phenomenon.
Actor-artist has been disarmed and tamed, deprived of his resistance, so important both for himself and his role in the society which has brought them to being obedient to laws and rules imposed by the society of production and consumption, and to the loss of independence that , placing him outside a community, enabled him to influence it.
The reform in theatre and in actor’s craft must influence the profundity of the metier. In the long period of actor’s social isolation, their attitude and condition were strongly marked by features which had been formed in a natural and spontaneous process by his heart and spirit, and which had separated him from the rest of the healthy-minded society and which had brought into being new autonomous forms of stage acting.
And here comes an image of this character: Actor the naked image of man, exposed to the public, the face elastic as a gum, actor- a fair artist, a shameless exhibitionist who stimulates his tears and laughter, and the functions of all human organs, passions of the heart and of the mind, excesses of the stomach and penis, with a body exposed to all sorts of excitement, danger and surprise, a homunculus, a dummy of man’s anatomy and mind, denying dignity and prestige, exposed to lashes and made into a laughing-stock, bred solely by his imagination which provokes a permanent insatiability with anything that exists in reality, outside a fictitious world and a state of eternal nostalgia, making him into this perennial wandering. The wandering Artist, Eternal Wanderer, homeless, futile in his search for a haven, stuck to his luggage, in which rest all his hopes, illusions, with their wealth and their fiction, enviously and eternally protected by him from intolerance and indifference.