For the purpose of my examination of how literature and art take part in the circulation of significations and representations in the construction of social reality, I concentrate on a specific feature that links and unites the work of four contemporary European authors—the inflation of death and violence, or the “overflow of corpses” in their novels, plays, and performances. My first example will be Bosnian-Croatian theatre director Oliver Frljić, his disturbing, shocking performances in which he uses his own personal, wartime, and political traumas to ask universal questions about the boundaries of artistic and social freedom, individual and collective responsibility, tolerance and stereotypes. As the second and third example I will take plays by two (no longer) dramatic writers, Anja Hilling and Simona Semenič—two outstanding representatives of German and Slovene (no longer) dramatic theatre and drama, exploring in their texts a tension between repetition and representation in which the first mechanism undermines and challenges the second and produces a specific poetic or aesthetic device—an effect of ostranenie or defamiliarisation (Shklovsky). The third example will consist of the novels by Winfried Georg Sebald, in which the German author uses the device of his wanderings between signs, punctuated by black and white photographs, producing a specific emblematic of a mutation of space and time, in which history and geography cross-fertilise, tracing out paths and weaving networks. Besides examining the contestation of subject positions, I concentrate on the dialectics of art and society, where fluid, uncontainable subjects are constantly pushing the contours. Revising the critical consensus that contemporary art primarily engages with the real, the essay describes how theatre and fiction today navigate the complexities of the discourse as well as social realities; how the discussed artists all share the belief that creative expression must also be destruction. Art has to go beyond what we are and what we can identify through understanding. Thus, art negotiates, inflects discursive circulation of stories, idioms, controversies, testimonies, and pieces of (mis)information in the face of global uncertainties.
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Jakiša Miranda. “The Evidence of Srebrenica: Oliver Frljić’s Theater Court in Cowardice.” In Post-Yugoslav Constellations: Archive Memory and Trauma in Contemporary in Bosnian Croatian and Serbian Literature and Culture ed. Vlad Beronja Stijn Vervaet. Berlin: De Gruyter 2016. 83–98.
Juvan Marko. “Svetovni literarni sistem.” Primerjalna književnost 32 2 (Dec. 2009): 181–212.
Juvan Marko. “Od političnega gledališča v jugoslovanskem socializmu do političnega performansa v globalnem kapitalizmu: primer Slovenskega mladinskega gledališča.” Slavistična revija 62 4 (Oct. – Dec. 2014): 545–558.
Kapusta Danijela. Personentransformation: zur Konstruktion und Dekonstruktion der Person im deutschen Theater der Jahrtausendwende. Herbert Utz Verlag 2011.
Sebald Winfried Georg. “Introduction and Transcript of an interview given by Max Sebald.” In W. G. Sebald: History – Memory – Trauma. ed. Scott Denham Mark McCulloh. Berlin: De Gruyter 2006.
Semenič Simona. The Feast. 2010. Reprinted on: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_SXHOpxWQLIepjfvYiEpi_PE96m-ObQMKuYNBE3jvwA/edit
Sontag Susan. 2000. “Mourning sickness.” Published in the TLS of February 25 2000. Reprinted on: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/mourning-sickness/
Toporišič Tomaž. 2016. “Five Questions for Oliver Frljić / Pet vprašanj za Oliverja Frljića = Pet pitanja za Olivera Frljića.” Gledališki list Slovenskega mladinskega gledališča in Hrvaškega narodnega gledališča Ivana pl. Zajca Reka – sezona 2016/2017 (1): 4–6.