Are national institutions capable of being and remaining subversive and experimental while provoking face-to-face interventions from conservative elements of the audience? How can national cultural institutions cope with their “economic dependency” on the prevailing normativity? As the disruption of the performance of Oliver Frljić’s “Our Violence and Your Violence” at the Theatre World Festival in Brno by the Czech radical-right “Decent People” movement illustrates, power relations, subversion of norms, issues regarding the freedom of artistic expression, and social control are transcending the duality of rigid institutions versus free-minded activism.
In their dialogue, Marta Ljubková, Chief Dramaturge of the National Theatre in Prague and philosopher Alice Koubová will open for discussion several corresponding themes that can shed light on the complexity of power in art production, including: the possibility for an institution to become a site of “artivism”, social discussion, education, and resistance against neo-populism; the current state of the power discourse within artistic institutions and activities in Central Europe; and the contemporary mission of national cultural institutions whose official task is both the curation of cultural heritage and national identity and the development of progressive, high-quality art. We hope to amply illustrate how the specific approach of performance philosophy can be used in tackling this set of issues.
Alice Koubová is a senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences and a lecturer at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. As a core convener of the Performance Philosophy initiative, her main interests range from the relational topology of performance and philosophical reflection to the ethics of play and policies in art. Her activities in the Performance Philosophy network include organising conferences that challenge the petrified habits of academic gatherings, public events focused on the development of civic society and discussion in art, and authoring performances that straddle the borders of philosophy and theatre. For her work, Alice has been awarded the Libellus Primus Prize (2008), the Otto Wichterle Award (2014), and the Popularisation of Philosophy Award (2017).
Marta Ljubková graduated from the Faculty of Liberal Arts of Charles University and the Academy of Performing Arts, where she currently lectures. Her main teaching interests are dramaturgy, history of scenography, and literary work. She has worked as a publishing editor, a freelance dramaturg, a reviewer, and an editor. She specializes in contemporary prose and drama, as well as in post-dramatic writing. She has served as the Chief Dramaturg of the National Theatre since 2015, and she is a program director of the international theatre festival “Prague Crossroads”.