Fraktal Falus Teatar
Fraktal Falus Teatar (FFT) is a contemporary Croatian theater group founded in 1994. Hrvoje Cokarić – twenty at the time – returned to Split from a short-term study in Zagreb and Ljubljana, where he mastered several theater seminars including theater directing with Dragan Živadinov.
At the time Split did not have any independent theater.
Out of the “underground” scene Cokarić gathered a group of like-minded people with whom he slowly began to collaborate on the first FFT pieces. Those works do not posses “only” the theatrical qualities, but are in a great part related to activism as well.
A significant early event is “Art Squat” (Split, 1994), which deals with by then abandoned Dom Omladine (“House of Youth”). The never completed socialist mastodon was, by that occasion, brought to life for the first time ever. The event included three days of installations, concerts, extreme sports, theater rehearsals and media presentations.
In 1998 the law allowed for groups and individuals to form associations.
FFT established a cultural and artistic association “Uzgon”, an umbrella under which it produced work together with Zidar Betonsky (ZBT) who composed original music for all projects. The activity of the FFT within the contemporary theater scene of Croatia is a singular phenomenon. It has been noted for the innovative use of performance, physical & poor theater, high-tech components, as well as frequent exploration of taboos. It largely practices the form of collective work and rejects individual authorship. Emphasis is on the emotion, society, ecology, and communication.
FFT produced following performances:
“Stolice” (1994), “Otmica Europe” (1994), “Ribar” (1995), “Razgovor s Bogom” (1996), “Šah-Mat” (1998), “Olovni Vojnici” (1998), “Vena Cava” (1999), “Jezici” (2005), “Judita360” (2009), “Judita” (2010), “Proces Protokol” (2011), “This Won’t Stop Just Like That” (2012), “Victimize” (2013), “War and Peace“ (2017), “Sakrij sunce” (2019)
FFT is a self-developing organism whose biochemistry changes shape depending on time.
Each participant of the collective has an equally important role in the working process – by subordinating his/her individuality to the final product.
The system of work is based on collecting and processing samples from former shows, current processes and personal situations. By synthesizing hardware, along with body and emotions, we get a living fractal which functions as a meta-sampler.
During the work process meta-sampler assimilates hardware, body and emotion of an artist – worker. Meta-sampler converts the global structure of the system into a skeleton of a current project.
FFT is a critical and renewing mechanism of reexamination of values related to the current environment – political, social, local or global. It acts when you do not need it at all or least expect it, but you crave it. Many raise the question if FFT exists at all. If you are asking yourself this question, it means you are probably already a part of it.
Only one thing is sure: FFT is in defiance to linearity of time.
Manifesto is finished.
Zidar Betonsky (ZBT) was a collective very closely related to FFT. All, or at least some members were strongly engaged in all FFT projects. ZBT produced various genres of progressive electronic music which started as industrial/noise/electro – as some critics described it. Later it changed to more ambient melodic electronica backed with vocals, delay-uttering guitars and programming. ZBT toured Europe with many gigs playing in Italy, Switzerland, Macedonia, France, Slovenia and Hungary. Ironically, Betonsky played just a handful of gigs in native Croatia. In the period between 1995-2005, the band recorded many different materials for theater, performances and live acts.
There is only one official record which was released.
The band went on a hiatus in 2001. They hold a status of one of the most unknown, obscure, innovative and original underground bands in Croatia to date.
ŠAH-MAT (CHECKMATE), 1998
Metasample, which forms narration and music, was developed due to lies and schizophrenic statements made by Croatian politicians – primarily members of the ruling HDZ – that tainted the public in the 90s. They routinely labeled the independent art scene as ‘enemies of the state’.
The direct inspiration was a statement made at a parliamentary session by a close associate of president Franjo Tuđman, Ivan Milas (“guardian of the state seal”), “…in Austria, veal’s brain costs 2 marks, and we will see how much ours is worth.”
At the entrance to the venue, each spectator was given a piece of bloody animal entrails and was forced to carry it in his hands. It was originally intended that visitors get a piece of veal brain, but the producers in Zagreb could not find it in sufficient quantity.
So it was decided to use 20 kilograms of veal liver. One by one, visitors entered a dark room, illuminated only by a powerful high-frequency vibrating stroboscope. In the room, they were greeted and restrained by two brutes, forcing them to listen to a short monologue – uttered in the viewer’s face – while at the other end of the room, a sadistic, deceitful butcher cuts large pieces of meat.
The play was made exclusively for the FAKI festival (Festival of Alternative Theater Expression) in 1998, organized by the Autonomous Cultural Center – Attack-Zagreb.
It was performed only once.
Hrvoje Cokarić – manipulator, Zdeslav Kukoč – manipulator,
Hrvoje Pelicarić – president, Zidar Betonsky – music
OLOVNI VOJNICI (LEAD SOLDIERS), 1998
The artistic framework of the play is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “Den Standhaftige Tinsoldat” (“Steadfast Tin Soldier”).
The Fraktal Falus Theater deciphered a large number of alchemical and numerological elements in Andersen’s work itself. These elements have been supplemented and modified in order to introduce additional dimensions (tin soldier – lead soldier; fire – cyberspace). One of the most famous Croatian actresses, Zdravka Krstulović, appears in a virtual projection as the character of a virtual ballerina. Due to a terminal phase of her Alzheimer’s disease, this was her last professional role before her death.
The actors share space and time with the audience. Moreover, spectators, who represent 24 soldiers that make up one platoon, actively participate in the play and make up the majority of the performers. They are continuous participants in the archetypal journey of a lead soldier, which they must fully experience and feel. The spectators go through a kind of initiation process: masked and uniformed people identify them, deprive them of all personal belongings, take photos (profile, en face, profile), fingerprints, recruit, change clothes and turn them into real uniformed soldiers. They are then taken to individual moving platforms, placed in the field where the game begins.
Lead soldiers are also a satirical depiction of the militarization of Croatian society.
The subversive character of the play is reflected in the fact that the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia was among its sponsors. The media wrote that “…Cokarić evokes an ancient tradition in which the generals financed Aristophanes and his followers, who systematically mocked them in a theatrical way while they fought for the dignity of Greece.” Furthermore, in this play FFT asks the “Father of a Nation”: what is the purpose of existence? This is similar to when an android, in the cult movie Blade Runner by Ridley Scott, asks his creator the same question. A letter from the time of the pre-production planning of the play was found in the archives, by which KUU Uzgon sought financial support from the Ministries and city services. The end of the letter read as follows: “… in making this play, we consciously decided on the risk of political persecution, because the theme of the play conflicts with the policy of the ruling party.” The play was co-produced by the Croatian National Theater (Split) and KUU Uzgon.
The sponsors of the play were the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia, i.e. IV Croatian Army Guards Brigade. The premiere was performed at the International Festival of New Theater “Eurokaz ’98” in Zagreb. Due to targeted conceptual transformations, each subsequent performance also had premiere status and the time frame was conceptually designed over a period of five years. However, only six plays were performed – 1998 Eurokaz Festival (Grič tunnel, Zagreb), 1999 HNK Split (Repertoire of the Croatian National Theater Split, three performances), 1999 Zadar Snova (Church of St. Dominic, Zadar), 1999 Quarantine (Art Lazareti , Dubrovnik).
Zdravka Krstulović – virtual ballerina, Milivoj Beader – lead soldier, Gorenka Žižić – ballerina, Ivi Beatović – rat, Nikola Ivošević – demon, Ivica Buljan – dramaturgical intervention, Dragan Živadinov – root pattern, Slavoj Žižek – textual inspiration, Srećko Kosovel – text direction, Hrvoje Cokarić & Vesna Režić – scenography, Eduard Raos – animation, Zidar Betonsky – music
JUDITA (JUDITH), 2010
“Judita” is a contemporary theatrical play based on an ideological and dramatic re-examination of the epic of the same name from 1501, whose author is Croatian renaissance writer, Marko Marulić. Marulić’s epic itself is based on a story from the Bible – the original “Judith” is a deuterocanonical book of the Old Testament. The text of the play is reduced to fragments, and the scenography to symbols. The video projections are also used to illuminate the objects and actors on the scene.
The whole dramaturgy opposes classical template and depends on the musical rhythm, except for the end itself, which allows the viewer to choose the desired ending of the play and take a stand – pleasure or disgust. The goal is the emotional and aesthetic self-blackmail of the viewer. The play tries to transfer energy from the ensemble to the audience. The final emotional impact is not prejudiced – there is a strong condemnation of marketing violence, self-deception and lies as a state of consciousness.
Dramatist Srećko Kosovel described “Judith” in the following words: “Judith was a whore, and we understand her sins, and for redemption to happen, we need to put things in the current context. Holofernes, paid to kill – in a socially acceptable way, of course – is a metaphor for each of you who, excitedly, with the passion of a necrophiliac voyeur, watch the world on television, missing the wonder that is unfolding around you at the moment. Violence is justified, as long as it is properly presented in the media, and the tribes they want us to join are drenched in blood. Nonetheless, we will humbly accept the eerie logic of capital and oppose it to our love. Judith, the one who sleeps for eons in all of you, should get up, move from your most comfortable position, and boldly spit the devil on the tongue, or the god in the face. In our story, the solution to this problem lies in you, oh you, our viewers, tailors of everyday horrors …”
The play was co-produced by KUU Uzgon and XONTAKT, the Center for Movement and the Multimedia Cultural Center Split. The premiere was held in 2010 at the International Dance Film Festival XONTAKT in Split, and the play was performed in 2011 as part of the Split Summer Festival.
Nataša Pavlov – Judith, Zdravka Krstulović – voice, Franko Bušić – Holofernes, Boris Kadin – Judith’s husband, Nino Bokan, Renato Vidaković – soldiers, Hrvoje Cokarić – director, Srećko Kosovel – dramaturgy, Nela Sisarić – choreography, Milena Meštrović – scenography, Nevena Cokarić Brstilo – costumes, Marin Zorić – video,
Zidar Betonsky – music
 In fact Kosovel never commented on Judith – this quote is a manipulation by the play’s author. As an act of artistic freedom, Cokarić attributed the quote to a famous Slovene poet in order to play and confuse.
PROCESS PROTOCOL, 2011
“Process Protocol” problematizes the bureaucracy that the independent culture in the Republic of Croatia is constantly facing. The theme of the play is the never-completed “Youth Centre” in Split, which was supposed to be a center of independent art.
It was abandoned in 1984 due to the negligence of the city administration and politics, both at the city and state level. The center was originally named “Dom Omladine”, but because of the forced change of language, it was renamed “Dom Mladeži” in the spirit of the newly composed Croatian.
Today it is the intersection of independent components merging contemporary performing arts, theater, dance scene, radio, underground music scene, cinematography, dance clubs, free climbers, skateboarders, etc…
The play challenges the extreme limits of the Fraktal Falus Theater. It is dominated by themes of protocol, fatigue, and the futility of a process full of illusions suffocating independent culture. FTT members participate in a long process of investigating the contemporary theater scene
and its secrets shrouded in the Kafkaesque atmosphere.
They break down the administration into basic elements, nurturing bureaucracy instead of alternative theater, reading written and flawed statutes, measuring THE concrete building, and forcing research and interpreting codes from Kafka’s unfinished work: The Castle (Das Schloss, 1926).
 “Dom Omladine” and “Dom Mladeži” are in fact synonyms but in this context also “neologisms and archaisms” (which are perceived as “more Croatian” than the words used during the Yugoslav period)
Simultaneously, while in the preproduction of the play, the real-life struggle with the state administration included an inquiry to the Minister of Culture, in which FFT tried to explain the importance of the Youth Center. Instead of the requested support, a response arrived from the ministry, which meant nothing (as usual). It stated that the ministry pays attention to the needs of young people and understands the importance of the Youth Center ensuring that the request was “in process”. Finally, the decision on the completion and renovation of the Youth Center subsequently arrived, it proved to be another unfulfilled promise, wrapped in familiar bureaucratic complications.
“Please do not turn off the phone during the show, because the subcontractor could call and ask for permission.
All he needs to know is:
– Sample search. Rejection of the model. The curse of the spell.
– The futility of the letter. The joy of correspondence. Waiting for a signature.
– Work and protocol Order and process. Growth and shift.
Welcome to our theater! ”
The play, Process Protocol, was performed twice at MKC Split. The premiere was on November 23, 2011, and the second performance on March 25, 2012.
Produced in collaboration with the XONTAKT.
Hrvoje Cokarić – director, Nela Sisarić – movement & dramaturgy
Nino Bokan, Franko Busic, Zila, Ivan Perić, Petra Kovačić, Sanela Marković, Velimir Foretić-Delonov, Hrvoje Cokarić, Nela Sisarić – performers, Hrvoje Cokarić, Nela Sisarić – authors, Tonči Bakotin Ruzina – author of the ministry’s correspondence, Marin Zorić – camera/video, Zidar Betonsky – music
The play analyzes the life situation of a gay couple who is not accepted in their own family circle and their unfortunate fate. Dramaturgy is based on true events. The theme of the project based on S/M poetics is the relationship between a victim and an abuser, as well as the relationship of Western culture to suffering in different social and political contexts. Unlike Asian culture in which S/M forms such as kinbaku and shibari are accepted and performed within kabuki theater – including actors who voluntarily put themselves in the position of a victim – Western S/M aesthetics and poetics are not based on patterns taken from traditional theaters, but on those from the inquisition dungeons. The purpose of such a form is to arouse sexual pleasure, which is actually a falsification of the victim’s function. “Victimize”, however, uses this poetics to encourage the viewer to an internal dialogue.
And while the first version of the play thematizes the types of violence experienced by a homosexual couple, the additional versions were planned to address motives such as war crimes and social injustice, depending on the number of brave storytellers willing to share their stories publicly. The project was based on voluntary confessions of victims of violence and the interpretation of events by the actor, who, by living with the victim, leads to a cathartic solution to a long-played but unwritten drama. At the formal level, the focus is thus on the exploration of tragedy, which has been the most performed theatrical form throughout history.
However, unlike film, it has been deprived of a documentary component.
By opening a dialogue of theatrical tragedy and that of the real world, FFT hopes to stimulate in the viewer an inner conversation about violence. Does it excite us? Do we have the ability to empathize with the victim?
The project also questions the very purpose of theater, asking whether theater should remain a purely aesthetic form, or whether it can become a sociological instrument with a practical impact on society. The play had performances at Gender Crossroads-HKD Sušak (Rijeka), Gender Crossroads – MKC and IKS festival (Split), Zadar snova (Zadar), MINIFEST festival (Ljubljana), Zagreb Queer (Zagreb). Produced in collaboration with IKS festival and Kino klub Split.
Hrvoje Cokarić – director, Nela Sisarić, Sanela Marković, Dario Tvrdić – actors
Alemka Đivoje – scenography, Marin Boban – executive designer, Zidar Betonsky – music
SCD01/SCD02/SCD03/SCD04 compilation ℗ & © 2020 Sensoria Records. All tracks written and produced by Zidar Betonsky at various hectic studios of KUU Uzgon. Early compositions were heavily inspired by Laibach, raw drum & bass and contain many sampled sequences from the state TV and radio programmes compiled and edited by Tonči Bakotin Ruzina. Graphic design by Marin Zorić. Archive by KUU Uzgon and Igor Mihovilović. Translations by Jerko Bakotin and Anissa Picard.
We thank everyone who ever gave us a hand.
This sound recording is financially supported by Kultura Nova Foundation whose purpose is the promotion and development of civil society in the Republic of Croatia in the fields of contemporary arts and culture.