A Sequence of Acts - 2018
Exhibited at Stefan Karlssons museum för dålig konst, 2018

A_Sequence _of_Acts

On April 8th, 1931 the dress rehearsal of the ballet The Bolt took place at the Leningrad State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. The performance was met by strong criticism and banned by the Soviet government. It would take 74 years before the ballet was performed and presented for the public again.

The ballet, with music composed by Dmitrij Sjostakovitj, takes place in a factory environment where some of the workers are carrying out a sabotage by throwing a bolt into the factory's new machine. Although The Bolt was a satire that did not have the intention to criticize the state, the performance was perceived as anti-Soviet and too avant-garde. For instance, in the performance the work of the female textile workers is represented by a choreography resembling machines in motion. This was considered to give a too lightsome and thus negative image of the worker.

The life and artistry of the composer Dmitrij Sjostakovitj was characterized by Soviet Communism. As a member of the labor-organization and indirectly "approved" by the state, he was allowed to purchase his sheet music but many of his works still came to balance on the boundary of what was considered too abstract. Although Sjostakovitj became the official composer of the regime, he is seen by many as a silent dissident who put up resistance first and foremost through his music.

The theater costumes in The Bolt was designed by the Russian artist Tatiana Bruni. She was influenced by constructivism and her playful design for The Bolt is characterized by abstracted shapes and colors and reflects the political poster design that was popular for the time being. The ballet also reflected contemporary movements within amateur theater that emerged at work places in industries and at the universities. In short performances, called "living newspapers", information and propaganda about contemporary subjects were shaped.

Tatiana Bruni’s costume drawings function as the starting point and source material for the project A Sequence of Acts. In a series of paintings, new patterns and compositions are inspired by the various characters of the ballet, such as The Bureaucrat, The Opportunist, The Secretary, The Terrorist, and many others. The project refers to both industrial and artistic work as well as to the restriction of freedom of speech and the history of political repression that is constantly rebuilding world over.

Image Credits: Image nr 1: Stefan Karlsson