„Have you ever invited anyone to a festival just because he or she was your friend? Have you ever had an affair with one of the artists you invited? How many hours have you spent on a plane this year? How many nights in hotels? Is the festival you work for made for the audience or against it? What kind of art would you sacrifice your life for? Who is more important to you: the audience, the artists, or yourself?” These questions, thrown straight in the faces of selected curators, evoked a whole array of reactions from tension, smiles, embarrassment, enthusiasm, and passion to anger or even mockery. Zagreb based choreographer and dancer Petra Zanki, and dramatist and director Tea Tupajić, wrote and directed a performance entitled “Curator’s Piece: A Trial Against Art”. The artists invited a number of curators of well known performing arts festivals that present work for their local communities but are also influential in an international context to take part in their project. They were: Per Ananiassen (Teaterhuset Avant Garden, Trondheim, Norway), Danjel Andersson (MDT, Stockholm, Sweden), Sven Ȧge Birkeland (BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen, Norway), Vallejo Gantner (PS 122, New York, USA), Gundega Laivina (New Theatre Institute of Latvia, Riga, Latvia), Florian Malzacher (Impulse Festival, Cologne, Germany), and Priit Raud (Kanuti Gildi SAAL, Talin, Estonia). The research and preparation phase of the project took many months. The artists travelled across Europe and to the United States, and met with curators, conducted interviews, and gathered material. They attempted to persuade the curators, “the men (and women!) in black,” who are always present off stage deciding the shape of contemporary theatre and dance, to break their unwritten rule and enter the stage as performers. They did not manage to convince all of them. Those who took the risk had to confront their own ideas, opinions and personal responsibility onstage and subject themselves to the opinion and judgement of the audience.

And why was this project made and what for? “Curator’s Piece, A Trial Against Art” is first and foremost a brilliant, witty experiment on the nature of theatre itself. With ample good humour, but absolutely no mercy, it exposes the mechanisms that govern this field of art and places its most important and influential representatives, namely the curators, in broad daylight for everyone to see. All of the curators in the project are also performers, collaborators (co-authors of the script) and co-producers of the performance, and most of them also presented the show at their own festivals. “Curator’s Piece, A Trial Against Art” is a fascinating attempt to question the rules and regulations within which theatre must function on daily basis. It investigates the relation between the audience and the curator and each night gives the audience the opportunity to ask themselves to what extent the curators are aware of the essence and the consequences of their work.