Thursday, December 27, 2007

How we in the Balkans kill rats

Balkan Baroque is a film directed by Pierre Coulibeuf and performed by the Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramovic. Where she tried to shed some light on the life in Balkan, through narrating her own memories and imaginary autobiography.
In a part of the video installation also titled "Balkan Baroque" Marina plays the role of a lecturer/scientist who give us tips about how people in the Balkans kill rats... she speaks solemnly and seriously... in the installation space her projection take the center bounded by a projection of her mother on the right, and her father on the left.
As she finishes her lecture about the rats she takes off her white coat and turns into a dancer moving in a seductive manner... meanwhile her father takes out a pistol to shoot himself and her mother covers her eyes.
What I found fascinating about her work is the conceptual approach of telling what seemed to me the summary of the history of a country torn out by war...
Even the responses of her parents tell you the truth behind how fathers and mothers would react to unorthodox behavior done by their daughter.
The Synopsis of her lecture is as follows:
"I'd like to tell you a story of how we in the Balkans kill rats.
We have a method of transforming the rat into a wolf; we make a wolf rat.
But before I explain this method I'd like to tell you something about rats themselves.
First of all, rats consume large quantities of food, sometimes double the weight of their own bodies.
Their front teeth never stop growing and they have to be ground constantly otherwise they risk suffocation.
Rats take good care of their families.
They will never kill or eat the members of their own family.
They are extremely intelligent.
Einstein once said: "If the rat were 20 kilos heavier it would definitely be the ruler of the world".
If you put a plate of food and poison in front of a hole the rat will sense it and not eat.
To catch the rats you have to fill all their holes with water, leaving only one open. In this way you can catch 35 to 45 rats.
You have to make sure that you choose only the males.
You put them in a cage and give them only water to drink.
After a while they start to get hungry, their front teeth start growing and even though, normally, they would not kill members of their own tribe, since they risk suffocation they are forced to kill the weak one in the cage.
And then another weak one, another weak one, and another weak one.
They go on until only the strongest and most superior rat of them all is left in the cage.
Now the rat catcher continues to give the rat water.
At this point timing is extremely important.
The rat's teeth are growing. When the rat catcher sees that there is only half an hour left before the rat will suffocate he opens the cage, takes a knife, removes the rat's eyes and lets it go.
Now the rat is nervous, outraged and in a panic. He faces his own death and runs into the rat hole and kills every rat that comes his way. Until he comes across the rat who is stronger and superior to him.
This rat kills him.
This is how we make the wolf rat in the Balkans."

Take it in a metaphorical way and you'll realize so many hidden meanings...



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