COMMENTS TV from nikunja on Vimeo.







Mael da Costa brazilian artist performer and stylist lived for 8 years on Réunion Island before he died in 1994 at Saint-Denis from SIDA. His universe of creation was baroque and beautiful. Thus he was in profound admiration before the creation of nature. He created ephemeral clothing from vegetal and industrial waste and created them directly in nature on the models, for photographs and more rarely for film. Since his arrival on the island he knew about his approaching death and thus lived in a constant urgency to create, in an universe between life & death, man and woman, appearance and disappearance, strength and weakness. A profound search and manifestation of a unique identity. For my film project to represent Réunion Island I chose this personality to create an artistic documentary film on Réunion Island, an island where natural extremes and physical and psychological contradictory energies join each other, as they were incorporated in the life of Mael. A profound search of identity and the  reality of a general insecurity of its people by the constantly moving volcanic grounds one stands on, the dangerous oceans one is surrounded by, the barely hidden social conflicts, characterize the multi racial and multi religious society on the island, and gives it a unique, explosive creative potential.
The different communities of African, Chinese, Indian and European origins can’t avoid each other as in the big world capitals and an intense but peaceful, unique beautiful métissage is happening between the peoples. The world’s future reality is the unity of the best of all its communities! This beauty is the best argument against racism, nationalism and protectionism. As an avant-project I created «commentaries on life and death», where, through the eyes and performance of Theo Trifard, well-known French actor, and Nadjani Bulin, dancer choreographer, both former close friends of Mael, a gap of 13 years is closed. Theo realised several theatre production with Mael, and Nadjani was a choreographer, dancer and model of his. The performers interrogate the moment of passing away, when one looses his body, and thus his ambition, illusions, and realises oneself as one is, beyond social and intellectual standard, more or less illusionary concept of oneself. “Video”, I see, finds its meaning in this context. The texts by Calderon, pronounced by Theo and the texts by Picasso, read by Brice in the video in the film, are linked to that moment where we believe, either moving from dream to wakefullness or from being awake to dreaming.
One finds oneself in a strange situation, without real orientation, but still somewhat known. It’s finding a plane you know, but you hadn’t really frequented throughout your life. Still you know, it was there. So the memories, the essential events of your life are there all at once, without a timeline, with dreamlike appearance and disappearance and with changing importance. And there is no notion of time. In this film Theo and Nadjani are moving into this world through the performance, accompanied by models Laina and Audrey, the child-king Ajay Chandra and dancer Brice, who incarnates his role of a stalker, the one who accompanies from life to death. And from death to life. For he also appears in the orgasm of the sexual act, the procreating act, the call for life in the moment of disappearance of flesh as an appearance of no time. Time is an important editing factor in the film. I wanted to take away all sense of excitement, and give time to the spectator to orientate himself, be able to see the evolution of the images as if he would create them in that instant, inside of himself. And that’s also what he does, for the outer image of light is a mere impulse for the psychic images appearing in the spectator. Thus he is an actor towards the creation of the film. An other important factor is the film as a light source: the darker the image, the more the spectator is by himself, the more light there is, the more he is afar from himself. The model actors are also spectator-actors, watching their own death by the “video”, beyond the Here and Now, part of the timelessness and of spacelessness.
The cinematographically creation with exception of the documentary film and experimental films is usually dominated by literature and then by a theatrical interpretation or representation. Even in documentary products usually it is the “story” which is in the foreground and thus the personalities appearing in the film are fictional and illustrating the story idea. Performance as an art form takes in consideration the existential value of the presence of a person or personality. It is NOT the representation of a character or a role, but it is the mere presence of the personality which is in the foreground. It is the existential personality and not a scenical personality.When I create a film I work with the aspect of performance and consider the existential personality of the person I am filming. This does not mean that there is no scenical personality at all. But the scenically personality I develop together with the “no-story” from the existential personality of the actor. This is a quite long and intuitive process, which involves a personal relation to the actor, or acting person. In the film, he/she is not just acting, he/she IS. And thus is the performance, the media, the light. I do not create the performance as a means to represent something. The performance is in itself existential and non representative. Of course the action stays open to free interpretation by the spectator. But this interpretation is not intention or motivation to me as a creator. To me it is important to touch “existential and essential ground” regarding the condition of the human being. At a certain moment, beyond the surface of the subjective awareness, we come to common grounds, spaces, were human condition is understood by anyone. It is not philosophical, it is psychic and existential. And it is NOT objective, it stays ultimately subjective. Usually the idea would be to discover a kind of common “truth” to all, and then develop the form to put it into. This is wrong and leads ultimately to something else than film and something else than truth. It is wrong to develop a form as content for everyone (this a at its worst basically a fascist idea). The film should create a platform from which the spectator takes his route to his own existential reality.The same is right for the media, as a source of light, and a source of colour. I work with the different levels of light e.g. in the sense, as the more light there is, the  more the spectator is apart from himself, the less light there is the more he is with himself. Even sitting with hundreds of people in a cinema space, when the screen is black, he is all by himself.  So the grades of light is important and so is the “materiality” of the registering of the image. I like to communicate the origin of the media, so that there is no illusion about the origin of the light and that there is no misunderstanding about how it has been done. I dislike profoundly the flawless images of digital high technology, of digital effects and so on, for they give us an awe for something totally unimportant. It takes us away from the essential, that is us, our human condition, and creates a dangerous illusion, a sort of faultlessness of calculation, an omnipresence of the “calculateable”  -  about what we should be or become. Live is not calcualteable and we need, to be human, faults. The fault is also important to discover what we do not know. When it appears, that everything can be calculated, it states that we would know everything. And this iq not only a philosophical lie, it is an existentially very dangerous lie which excludes any evolution. It is also a very dangerous political issue.
I work on the other side of the spectre of creation, and I believe there is the difference between art and handcraft, between a lie and a truth. (by no way I would declare handcraft a lie, but if virtuosity pretends to be art, it is a lie) If technical virtuosity is mistaken for art, we are lost. Nothing beyond a more or less strong excitement is there, taking us on a road, leading nowhere. There is no sense in it, not even joy. As a creator for a public I love the spectator and feel responsible to communicate to him values which he discovers in himself, without pretending that it is me, who create this realisations in him; I suggest them at best. The cinema and television images today are omnipresent communicators of everything, life concerns. No aspect of life and human comprehension is really excluded. And thus I hope to provoke a change of perception, an awareness that one’s own critical mass, is important for the evolution of one’s perception and thus , ultimately, is love.

HELP WALTER HELP!! They mechanized everything!
Eat me, said the bread. Eat it properly! Said the mother of the child. And the child… I’ll eat it, yes …but how can I do that it tastes better?
Nikunja with his artist partners organise a performance in a theatre of a cinema in a film. Human presence and existence of video. Nikunja tries to create spaces of freedom for everyone. For everyone? Without doubt this is as badly formulated as  “art for everyone” or “you are all artists”.  Maybe it’ll be more, new fields of expression and widening awareness for everyone. Nikunja hopes for good, that the spectator would understand how much he is actor of what he sees, at the very instant of confrontation with the oeuvre. His presence and his look participate in the creation.
Since the “Theatre of the Suppressed” there was a shyness about the direct interventions by the spectator into the creation of the oeuvre. However there still stays an undefined fringe which interrogates the sensitive space, between the oeuvre and its user. A space tense like the string of the arch, stretched by the desire of the artist to attach the onlooker and to animate him through his oeuvre. And an equally tense space resides inside the more or less profound interrogation this contemplator expresses and inside his own capacity to acclaim the oeuvre and to invest it.“The tension between two determined elements is creating life to a third energy, which is beyond them. Like the electrical current appears between two poles, without them, it does not exist. And even the non-action or the negation of the oeuvre is not neutral. The power over an oeuvre resides in the consciousness and may manifest itself in different forms and on multiple planes” The purple rose of Cairo, Nikunja feeds the spectator by his own paradox of Alice in the Mirror or Cocteau’s Orpheus and even others more. “Are you in the film?” “Are you in the screen?” “Are you outside, at the side of it, ready to enter, what part of yourself will you really place into it…and where, sincerely or virtually?
Nikunja distinguishes between the performance of the theatrical spectacular, theatrical cinema/television by the difference between the actor, as animator of a personality and the actor as himself, living and moving inside a space defined by the artistic intervention. He formulates the two, plays between the two, creates with the two. 
«I perceive the theatre like a code which conveys secret messages. The artist is like the sorcerer, the divine healer, who dances the divine codes of life. Who looks at it, is inspired, who drinks of it, is saved”, said Julian Beck, creator of the Living Theatre. Coming from the arts like Nikunja (who refers more to Fluxus & Happening) he seemed to search in the seventies something close to that conception and influenced a lot the development of the performance as an art form. Nikunja is not too far from reactivating «the purple rose of Cairo» as a poetical militant system. Like any art work is the performance a proposition, living of being received. Cinema and television proposes less and less choices to us in an ever growing multiplicity, of greater and greater importance. More and more elements with less and lesser variety. A large industry dominated by an undivided spirit of profit and sophisticated techniques.  It isn’t enough anymore to live well, but you got to live better than the others. Our world heads towards an absolutism of competition, never reached yet. Only the first one would be the last…at the inversion of a certain triumphant philosophy and pretext to the development of its contrary.
«Art is forming concepts which would help to advance beyond the dead-end road of the absolute competition»*.
The other ,… “The Other”, a curious little movie by Robert Mulligan in 1972 which talks about duality and non-duality with deepest innocence and with all its brutality (meant euphemistically), throwing back at us all our ambiguity. The artist and his work are always heading for The Other. Human being, the artist acts. That means, he speaks…and everything he says is directed to a destination. There is no artist who creates only for himself.
A destination? Which one ? Not to understand as a focus (to create for whom ?), but as an open question (who then, would make use of it?) Not to understand neither as a marketing strategy, lastly a formatting matter, but a dense relay of which one wonders who would take it up and how… Even Warhol would have had no chance to concurrence really the cinema and the television. But Cinema is nothing without painting and literature. Even thou, the artist finds himself at the bottom of the screen, like the young girl of “The Purple Rose of Cairo”.
     Thus Nikunja’s performance is the direct result of the predictions by Walter Benjamin. Nikunja and his partners use the means of the art industry but without this industry. The painter performing on the avenue of the all visual. Trying to link the image of the commercial fiction to the reality of the boulevard of crimes? Art is questioned by art.  But surely, art interrogates the recipient….who questions art.
“Move on & don’t be so hesitant !” as would have said the many-folded Marcel Duchamps. Laurent Segelstein 04/2007

Interdisciplinary artist Nikunja is born in Switzerland and works between Reunion Island and Holland. He creates projects which engage during their creation the authority of different actors, as the public. They use the confrontation of the quality of different médias as a vector for new forms of creation. Besides his creations for contemporary art centres around Europe Nikunja uses the film media in a way which corresponds to his artistic intentions in painting and art installation. Therefore he questions the “materiality” of the media, the quality of performance in cinema and the role of the spectator as actor. Comments on life & death (2007, 52’), Trying Paradise (2007, 10’), Ties (2006, 9’52) Fellini Now (2005, installation, loop), Fluidimpuls (2004, 20’) are recent realisations of his in this research.
Nadjani Bulin
Born in Réunion Island, she practice gym & has learnet dance in France. Nadjani collaborated with a lot of compagny: The Soweto Dance Cie, Free Flight Dance Cie & solo choregraphy for : Earl Johnson (Aix-en-Provence, 1989) Décadence avec élégance (Réunion avec Mael da Costa, 1993), Oneness-World Vision Reality (Uno-Geneva, 1997), People begin to fly (Unesco-Paris, 1998) Sky over my House (Geneva, 2001), La Cour (Amsterdam/Réunion, 2004>2006) et Eagle Flight (Réunion, 2007). Nadjani Bulin has presented her creations in France (Festival de danse d’Aix-en-Provence, Hivernal d’Avignon), in Switzerland & South Africa. A so personal style, harmony & fast, fusion of grace with influences from Asia, d’Africa & Europe. Nadjani performance on shorts movies: Living Room (Merit Shalem/Rotterdam, 2005), Thuiskomen (Anne Karin den Bosch/Rotterdam, 2004), Fluidimpuls (Nikunja, 2004), Ties (Nikunja, 2006).
Ajay Chandra-Ebner
The most young & performer Helvetico-French Ajay Chandra-Ebner, born in 2001, use in Testament du Vent (Amsterdam, 2005) & play in shorts movies in Holland : Thuiskomen (Anne Karin den Bosch/Rotterdam, 2004) & Réunion Island he played the «king-child» in Comments on life and death (Nikunja, 2007).
Théo Trifard
Am I alive or am I dead? I don’t know. I like to act and to serve texts. I toured in the US, in Europe, in Africa, I performed for stage and films in Paris, in Libreville, in Johannesburg, in the Island of Reunion, in Marseilles ...Is it true or is it a dream? Is it part of my life or of my imagination ? Imagination is such an amazing, bizarre and perturbing machine. I remember that I often worked with Mael da Costa. He was an outstanding artist, creating incredible costumes. He was my best friend and I miss him. I produced his last show «Decadence avec Elégance» and performed in it as a prophet. It wasn’t a story, it was an universe. An universe dedicated to beauty, harmony and elegance populated by ambivalent inhabitants. Is it part of my life or of my imagination? I don’t know. As Calderon wrote: «Qu’est ce que c’est que la vie, une illusion, une ombre, une fiction... car toute la vie est un songe et les songes sont des songes...»
Le conseil général & le conseil régional de La Réunion, French embassy of South Africa & pavillon «Cinéma du Sud» at Cannes, creative centre of Le Port, the theatre «Sous Les Arbres» , Le Port city & cooperative Alter-Native. And: Catherine Gaud, Catherine Chane-Kune, Françoise Kersebet, Stéphane & Juliette Demoulin, Vincent Garrigues, Michel Bres, Irvin Sinimali, Sylvette Annibal, Marie-Ange Frassati, RFO Réunion, Nicol M’Couezou, Mary Chocolat.

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