Marija Šujica’s performance practice is self-directed mixed-mode research into the dynamic interaction between mind, body and the environment, seeing them all as inseparably intertwined in mental processes. She utilizes techniques and theories of coaching psychology and group dynamics for creating interactive walks and narrative structures. Her research was funded by Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and supported by WhyNot platform that stimulates innovations in the field of contemporary dance and performance.
She obtained bachelor degree at Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, followed by an MFA from the Dutch Art Institute and a Master diploma in physical acting and coaching from the Moving Academy for Performing Arts, Netherlands.
With her interest in enactivism and participation, Šujica resorts to diverse techniques such as somatic dance, action-perception or action learning, as intervention frameworks and processes that inform her art making. By including elements from performing and visual art practice, she re-designs methods originally developed to support recognition of subjective world of set members and the social context of their works and lives, creating the work that puts in focus the interaction between individuals or groups with their surroundings. The performance is manifested through one on one sessions, guided performances, audio tours and ambient installations.
2017 – Present
Scores for Body and Mind is a series of participatory choreographic works developed together with WhyNot platform for contemporary dance and in collaboration with Jeff Hamburg (hypnotherapist and composer). With these works I approach body as a living medium, as an archive of ephemeral images.
Acknowledging the viewer’s body as a medium that, at the same time receives and generates stories, Šujica creates participatory work exploring the potential of non-linear narrative structure. She believes that story is best precited through the body physically immersed into the story. In that way mental and physical body spatiality, ideally, heighten the viewers sensitivity to his own attitudes, reactions and thought processes and in that way allow them to perceive everyday narratives from different perspective.
Scores for Body and Mind was made possible with generously supported by AFK.
2017 – Present
As of April 9, 2020, a total of 563 reached Earth orbit and therefore had a chance to see our Earth as a distant object, positioned in space. One of them is the Dutch physicist and astronaut Wubbo Ockles who in his speech, broadcast on the Dutch national TV station in May 2014, described Earth as a sick and a lonely planet, where “most of the people are not aware of the danger we live in”. His last wish, and we can say last because he died the day after this speech was delivered, was to transfer his experience to us.
With her work, Marija Šujica ask the question: How can a body, a living medium, be a memorial and therefore an object that commemorates an act such as seeing Earth as a distant object? What happens when everything we know; all human history is seen at real physical distance? What kind of love develops with this detachment?
With these questions in mind Marija developed the work that is a possible way to imagine what life would be like without gravity, a metaphor for the gravity of the situation that we all are facing.
Astronaut in Me is an audio tour that provides a unique guidance through the space, designed to amplify sensitivity towards gravity, re-imagine the experience of being in space and to refine individual capacity for self-distancing.
At the same time, it is a proposal of particular kind of intimacy known only to a handful of people. This intimacy is a well-known phenomenon of ecstatic feeling experienced by astronauts when seeing Earth as a distant object.
concept & text: Marija Šujica
choreographic advice: Marjolein Vogels
composition: Jeff Hamburg
voice: David Eeles
sound design: Ivo Bol
outside eye: Arif Kornweitz
production: WhyNot Festival & AFK
photo documentation: Boris Burić
2019 – Present
With this interactive audio tour as a choreographic walk, the audience are led through the unique complex of De Hallen: a main hall, a food hall, a cinema hall and a bicycle cellar. The once closed off workshops of this old tram depot were transformed by architect André van Stigt into a lively meeting place with respect for and complete preservation of the monument as a cultural heritage.
While listening to the interactive audio storytelling, audience are following the performer who defines the tempo of their walk through these complexes of hallways.
Looking at the relationship between body and architecture, Šujica puts emphasise on the role that architecture could possibly have on acceleration of life. This phenomenon, usually linked to the technology, is observed in relation to everyday activity of walking. She takes history of corridors, seemingly unimportant architectural elements, as a metaphor for moving through life and brings in focus the experience of walking, transitioning, and connecting within a permanently standing structure.
concept & text: Marija Šujica
sound design: Jeff Hamburg
choreographic advice: Marjolein Vogels
voice: Marie Phillipst
tour guides: Michael Scerbo, Antonia Steffens, Ieva Barsauskaite, Patrick Schmatzer
external eye: Ivo Bol
commissioned & produced by WhyNot
During her stay at the Hôtel Philippoz residency, Marija Šujica collaborated with visual artist Lara Morais. They developed durational performance Under (Re)construction. Word by word, they dismantled the story of the time when the temporary exhibition space was the living residency of Phillipoz’s grandmother. Taking layer by layer of the installation, they simultaneously constructed the story of the past and revealed the current state of the space, which at the time of their performance was in the renovation phase.
Relatively Rigid is a performance developed in collaboration with Witta Tjan.
John Cage wrote Postcard from Heaven in 1982 as a music piece for 1 to 20 harps. Šujica and Tjan are interested in the raga-like structure that Cage uses for writing this piece. A raga is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music. The way the notes are approached and rendered in musical phrases and the mood they convey are more important in defining a raga than the notes themselves. Šujica and Tjan replace the harp by the book in order to see how the content of the text is dominated by its form and vice-versa. The selected books and texts for this occasion were: The Folk Stories of Children (Brian Sutton Smith), Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/ IV (edited by Harold I. Kaplan, MD and Benjamin J. Sadock, MD), Freeing the speech and selection of the onomatopoeias made by Mariana Zamarbide.
Postcard from Heaven performed by the harpists of the Amsterdam Conservatorium at Rainy Days, Festival de Musique Nouvelle in Luxemburg, whilst Relatively Rigid was performed in parallel at the Kunstvlaai in Amsterdam. The audience was instructed to imagine the two events happening simultaneously but far from eachother.
Concept: Marija Šujica & Witta Tjan
Performed by: Witta Tjan, Daniela Wick, Mariana Zamarbide and Marija Šujica
In the summer of 2011, “Portrait without Portrait” realised exhibition in the Artistic Center Ubsm shows the installation formed of funeral speeches. The speeches were delivered on the opening of the exhibition by the artist who participated in the project.
While giving the speech, funeral speech writer will paint the portrait of the deceased. This is one of the first sentences written in a regulation for writing a funeral speech.
JONATHAN RICHARDSON recommended to painters that they first of all write the story of the painting in order to know whether it was worth painting.
I invited six artist Bojan Milosavljević, Natalija Simonović, Duško Ćurguz, Zoran Rajšić, Branka Nadimović and Milica Vukelić, to paint the portrait by writing a funeral speech.
All of them were my Facebook friends. The portrait was my profile on Facebook, which I deactivated after the funeral. I provided them with the regulations for writing a funeral speech.
Taking as a starting point the quotation “The history of death may not be just the farthest point reached by serial history, but perhaps by all history” by Paul Ricoeur, Šujica uses the famous print entitled Intestinal Tract of a Seated Man by Hans Baldung Grien as basis to anatomize contemporary forms of labour like copper theft.
Do We Ever Know Where History Is Really Made? is part of Extrapool’s guest curator project Gastpost
With Jetske de Boer, Eva Olthof, Stefano Faoro, Patrícia Sousa, Marija Šujica & Miek Zwamborn
Publication & Performance night
Concept project: Eva Olthof
Graphic design: Stefano Faoro i.c.w the artists
Publisher: Extrapool, Nijmegen
Funeral Speech is a text performance that first took place as a part of the DAI graduation show Group Installing, curated by Grant Watson in Arnhem 2012.
The copy machine was placed at the entrance of the gallery. Instead of delivering the speech, which is the usual procedure in a funeral, Šujica printed and distributed the text to the audience.
The artist book Most Of The Time Not At All Always consists entirely from the text. Throughout three examples, the work pulls into the focus everyday experience of fluctuating between sense of the presence and absence along the life. It articulates bodily perception as perceived by virtual and real body, as inhabitant of Earth and Earth like experience and as a meeting point of the life becoming a story and body turning into image. In the form of self-reflective tale, documented during the conversations with Joren Beemsterboer, Wubbo Ockels and Hester van Hasselt, three personal experiences are articulated: the computer game playing, the human spaceflight and the process of writing a funeral speech.
The reader is instructed to engage in the process of memorising, remembering and imagining during the reading. Such an process should be recorded on the blank pages, formulated as a questions.