Don’t put your cross on me 2013

Performance, 30 November 2013, 12:00, Korzo (in front of Mali salon)

In the whirlwind of the usual activities in an urban weekend, moving around, drinking coffee, going to the greenmarket or to church, we find a still woman’s body clasped by a cross. She is kneeling; her face and body are pressed to the pavement. Don’t put your cross on me is read as the performance name; for all the crosses of sufferance imposed on us by the repressive system and immediate environment, as well as for the crosses we impose on ourselves. With the intention of asking ourselves how much guilt we bear and how easily we shift the weight to someone else, especially to the weaker ones, with a scarce power position; to the ones who disturb our superficial civility. Nika Rukavina conducts her performance before the announced referendum on the amendments of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia with a provision on marriage as a community between man and woman. She chooses the medium of performance and her own body as a protest against human narrow-mindedness which, in this case, wishes to reduce the notion of community to an exclusive, tedious formula.

On the basic level, Nika’s performance is a test of endurance, focus and persistence in time; questioning the sensitivity of the public body. She leans against the long line of infiltrating living art, i.e. living sculpture into the urban tissue, like Tomislav Gotovac’s performance Lying Naked on the Pavement, Kissing the Pavement (Zagreb, I Love You!) (1981), or another cult work by Vlasta Delimar, Tied to a Tree (1985). Exposing herself in an extreme situation, in the open conditions of the public space, Rukavina disturbs the normalised urban everyday life. The self-imposed gesture of vulnerability, devoid of any wish for power, is trying to create a connection with passers-by, evoking issues of co-responsibility in the making of the ever more conservative order. Can a performative expression become contagious, as an opposition to further exclusions, repressions and establishments of the control of fear over anything that is different?

Text author: Ksenija Orelj