Artist, writer, curator, producer and CIIS MFA graduate Marie Marković invites you to dive into imagined elsewheres

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The line between audience and performers is blurred at Marie Marković’s “A RETROSPECTIVE”. Photo: Deirdre Visser

In the Before times…

I was working on an immersive performance. It’s the form that resonates the most with me, on stage. Having the audience participate in the work, completing the beauty and the meaning by receiving it, and gifting their response. I came to a point in my lifelong exploration of performance where I just couldn’t do the thing where I am on stage and you are all looking at me. I froze. Rather than fighting it, I started inviting you, the intimidating, anonymous audience, to share deeply intimate moments with me on stage.

Thanks to my unique trajectory of unlearning, I have accomplices across disciplines, and across borders. My favorite people to work with are the ones who are “performers and”. Very likely because of the interdisciplinary nature of my own practice, and because speaking multiple languages means having a kaleidoscopic lens, so we understand each other.

We were two weeks from opening the show when I cancelled it. Postponed it! You are still invited. It’s called A RETROSPECTIVE, and it functions like a gallery, where participants join eight artists on stage, and visit at their own pace, following their own impulses. My love of theatre and museums combined.

The psychomagic immersive space uses play, self-led rituals, and powerfully symbolic interactions with performers to tap into the metaphorical and the subconscious. The outcome, hopefully, is the seed of transformation. Every rehearsal, I felt an incredulous gratitude that so many wonderful people have become my friends and collaborators. I am excited for you to meet them, I hope it will be soon!

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Marković in the altar-dress created for A RETROSPECTIVE. Photo: Deirdre Visser

In the Now times…

As hours and days melt, I feel relieved that social engagements are cancelled. The absence of pressure to live a life that resembles a beer commercial creates the spaciousness that allows a pace that suits me more. I feel angry. I feel grief. I feel grateful because we, at last, share a common understanding: you, the isolation of this quarantine, me, the isolation of being a trauma survivor living with mental dis-ease.

Some Black activists argue that the embodied exposure to daily dread, and acute awareness of our mortality caused by the virus is a temporary immersive experience of what it feels like to be Black in this land. That’s what made White folks finally pay attention. That makes sense to me. I hope empathic outrage stays in our cells longer than on our feeds.

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An audience member becomes part of the art, scrawling a secret note on Marković’s costume. Photo: Deirdre Visser

Multiple times a day I wonder why I am not home in Montreal instead of living through what feels like a karmic fever that won’t break. I realize I need travel to remain a permanent possibility to feel whole. Meanwhile, I connect online with artists who feel as close as lovers… kinship is so similar to desire.

A great deal of my life takes place in imagined elsewheres. One of them is Promise Hill, a fictional town where the book I am writing, having run out of excuses not to, takes place.

It’s the story of Roth, an Angel who leaves Heaven to escape a controlling Deity and experience high school on Earth. They long to be loved for who they are, but having only known about the world from observation, they lack practical human social skills. They don’t know who to let in, who to keep out, or how. Roth’s quest for belonging turns to catastrophe when their school becomes infested with Demons seeking hosts to fulfill a dark hunger…

My most galvanizing project, I came to recognize, is the long game of unfurling my voice. She Who Created A Magical Haven but then publicly denies Trans women’s basic rights needs to be drowned out by kinder, queerer authors. It may take an army. Consider me enlisted.

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Close up of the wings prop constructed for the one-to-one piece “I Promise”, premiered at Burning Man. Photo: Paula Junn

In the Ongoing times…

You and I may not be around for the “After” of our necessary revolutions.
We will see its dawn, if we keep going. A woman who talks to Spirit said, a decade ago, that before a more balanced world can commence, all lies must come out. This is happening now, and it is global, national, interpersonal, even within myself.

Can you feel it too?

With my friend the game master, we made a new show, to tour internationally. Every night, we will invent two characters from any world or era, who are powerfully attracted to each other, but have a compelling reason not to act on their feelings. Kinship, desire…

I will continue collecting thrift store paintings.

We will put on A RETROSPECTIVE.

See you there.

Marie Marković (she/they) is the artistic director of Marie Makes Art, an interdisciplinary company that curates and produces beauty and meaning from chaos. Follow Marie Makes Art on instagram @mariemakesart or check out the website: www.mariemakes.art

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Blog of the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing program at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.

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