Marina: Yeah, I hear you fine.
M: Oh, what happened? How do you manage?
M: Where are you now?
M: I’ll have a look.
M: Is it about creating a stage, a setup for yourself?
M: I was reading this article on Metropolis M, and the writer was talking about this ‘feminist’ Prada skirt you were wearing and that you chose it really carefully because it had an embroidered portrait of a girl on it. And I thought it was interesting that she paid attention to how much you are in control of how you are perceived by the audience, what kind of message you are sending. For me, that is very much jewellery’s power too…
Nora: Hi, im Skyping for the first time from my phone. Hope it works. Can u hear me?
N: Normally, i Skype from my laptop, but now its broken.
N: Well, actually i have been w/ out a laptop for like half a year now. I have been writing a lot lately and i can do it on my phone, so thats fine.
N: Im at my parents’ house in Croatia, trying to have a carpenter build something for me. Im starting to create these little wood objects that i perform w/. Ive so far only produced 2. Its much cheaper to build here and just take things back on the plane to Amsterdam. Not sure if you saw it on Instagram, its this black ‘button’ from wood.
N: For me, this series of small wooden things is like a little playground i can do a performance on.
N: Creating a setup that influences the choreography of the performance. So not thinking about how im going to move but how the text and the objects can influence me. Im also not so interested in showcasing these objects as art objects in themselves or remnants of a performance ‘cause, sorry, but, thats stupid. Who cares about the object someone performed on if you can come and watch a performance and the object together in action and that is a work.
N: Yes exactly, and i think in performance art we are done with women being in jeans and a T-shirt or naked, its kind of ‘60s New York thing, like fuck that shit. Seriously, its time to fight for fashion to be demystified in the art world. Its time for it to become a part of it, in a sense that it is not taken as a superficial thing, but accepted as a fun thing that is also a part of the experience.
N: When i started performing i had this feeling ur supposed to make no choices whatsoever when it comes to what u wear… unless ur going for a custom-made costume made by an artist in skin-colour spandex or something like that, u know what i mean? Like, ur work is beyond that and u dont wanna be busy muddying ur hands in such superficial waters as fashion haha. It felt like either u look shit or go as a clown and both felt stupid. I remember i was about to perform for the first time and i asked a friend what shall i wear and he was like wear what u wore 5 days ago then u can be sure ur going casual and not giving it unneeded thought/attention… I come from a design background and ive been into fashion for so so so long; keeping up with trends, fashion and contemporary life is such a big part of my work, it would be ridiculous for me not to think what i wear.
M: How do you keep up?
M: Because you can use it as another layer of information and communicate other things rather than conforming to this uniform idea of white T-shirts that are ok-neutral, so it’s just about what one is saying…
M: I was also wondering how much, if at all, do you reference the black culture of the spoken word performance, say hip-hop, rap or is it more about shamanism and chanting for you?
M: Yeah, prescribed by the critics, the observers…
M: Are you still making music too?
M: Really? So you are really into it now?
M: So you are taking notes with these bizarre phrases?
N: I usually think of an outfit at least a month in advance; I look at what i already have, what i could borrow or buy. Sometimes i buy something for a performance and end up wearing it 2 years later. I have a stash, but that stash is drying up, I must admit its hard to keep up. When i was younger i was always wondering why would anybody want a stylist if u can shop urself, but now I totally see the reason… Budgets are not huge and sometimes non-existent, i feel i have to hustle my way through getting shit i want. Buying and returning, borrowing, digging… It all feels like a part of work.
N: Exactly, but its not only about what im saying. Its a lot about context, about living and style.
N: I dont come from a hip-hop or spoken word background. Only in the last 4 years have I intensely listened to hip-hop and looked at stand-up comedy and spoken word, but that was more for references, to evolve. But for sure there are some, but it was never really conscious. It more had to do with me making music and then starting to write. And then just performing the words as if they were music. It was much more simple than that. And of course in the end it becomes political, in the end it becomes about a white woman screaming. In the end, it cant not be political. ‘Cause you cant escape doing certain things, you cant escape sounding a certain way or being feminist or saying some things that are harsh. Same as performance has to be about gender, its like some of the things you cant avoid. But i think these things are later prescribed to it. Its not like im constantly thinking about it…
N: Exactly, and thats maybe whats good about it. That people see different things in it, and for me it can be something completely else.
N: Not really, i mean, i dont know, i get a bit lazy w/ music because this performance thing is just so much more fun.
N: Im really into it. Basically, im just reading, taking notes, watching stuff like lectures, you know. Im taking notes all the time.
N: Yeah, its things i think sound good or weird. They are always short notes or words. Basically, i collect language constantly.
M: What are the criteria? Is it very personal?
M: Totally. I’m interested in people who are aware of this kind of direct relationship, direct reaction to things, shape, colour, form or whatever. Why do we always have to explain?
M: I remember your graduation work and I don’t know how far away you moved from it, but that video with white words on a black background, and your voice reading them out loud, that was really strong for me. How did you move from doing things like music and videos with your voice to performance? What happened?
M: And was it hard in the beginning?
N: Its completely intuition. I think this work is more about doing and then later seeing what it is about. In the end im not dumb, so if i do something, I dont need to constrain myself with a bunch of restrictions to do something good. I think intuition is also completely valid.
N: I think this is good and when its good, it communicates something else than what it is. Thats when the meaning comes. All these things happen based on intuition but then later we all look at them and then they make sense w/ respect to the society and whats happening.
N: Well, somebody just asked me to perform. I made this graduation thing and then somebody asked – I think it was ‘Lost Property’. They asked me if i wanted to perform that piece. I was like, OK, but i had no idea how to do it. So it was more like they gave me the idea.
N: Yes, it involved so much in the beginning, like i had to learn how to remember the text, because it is a lot of text – 25 minutes of talking. So in the beginning it was a bit hard to learn the text, but now i kind of developed methods. So im much faster at learning texts and also each performance work is always the same work, but it keeps changing, depends on the text and how i move, and what i do. So basically these 3 years I have been performing the same work but it has changed so much. I dont really make new work, but i kind of update the old one.
M: So you add to it, or take stuff out?
M: You are evolving it kind of slowly…
M: What was the beginning subject of this piece? What was the theme? Or was there even one? Or was it just about the words, random words sounding a certain way…
M: Because now you have this kind of filter in your daily life, you are kind of on a mission of recording notes?
M: That is amazing.
M: Are you writing on your phone?
M: Constantly, crazy amount of words, phrases…
M: Basically it’s a timeline; you copy paste things one after the other, etc. It’s not like you have folders organised by subject.
M: A kind of long list, so when you read it you can pick out, and phrases are completely lifted out of their context, where and when they happened.
M: It just becomes this dough, clay for you to work.
M: I thought non-native speakers are even more self-conscious than the native ones. I feel always very self-conscious.
M: It is interesting your relationship to a language, what that brings, being oblivious to certain things, but also being able to see it from a distance: more for its form than meaning.
N: Exactly, i kind of pimp it every time. Try to make it better. And then it changes and, after 6 months, its completely different. But if u see a performance 2 times in a row in the same month there wouldn’t be so much difference. It is a lot about time.
N: Exactly, i mean it is also about the way i collect text and write it, and learn it. Its all really time-consuming and then i do this performance and its like 20 minutes super fast. So its kinda disproportional, how much it takes to make it and how much it takes to perform it.
N: Back at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, i was making music and i wasnt that good at lyrics. So i always had this Word file with a lot of quotes and stuff i would put in, just in case i needed inspiration to write lyrics. And then once i was in front of my mentor, with that open, and then she was like, ‘What is that?’ And i was like, ‘Ah, some of my notes.’ She said, ‘Read them to me’, and i started reading and she was like, ‘Omg, this is so good, u have to record it.’ And next time i recorded it, we were listening to it, and she was like, ‘This is great.’ Of course, i really edited the notes and i wrote some. There is a big percentage of the things that i write. Its a lot about written textures. Its also a lot about all this information we get into ourselves, Facebook, reading, looking at magazines, talking, getting drunk, its all those constant words that happen, that we are completely oblivious to, like nobody cares. And when i start taking notes, theres so much interesting stuff happening when i get drunk…
N: Yes, but everything became a mission. Like, even when i go to Bijenkorf i read the labels, i can go to a city and spend a whole day just looking at stuff and this is kind of works for me. Its really fun also, ‘cause u just act and do what u would do anyway, but u are active about it.
N: And theres something about being on a mission to write things down. Sometimes its ridiculous because ur talking to somebody, and then ur like, ‘Sorry i have to write this down.’
N: Yeah-yeah, my iPhone is now my everything. No really, it is everything. It is really convenient. I have this Pages file which is on a Cloud and i can open it from anywhere and then i have Kindle on my phone, i have magazines on my phone, i have Facebook, Twitter, so i have all this stuff that i follow. And then i just copy+paste it into Pages.
N: Yes exactly, i collect and i write in parallel. Then i use some of the stuff Ive collected as raw material, so its not like i read my notes the way they are…
N: No it is one thing after the other.
N: And i also dont care who it is or who wrote it. Fuck that shit.
N: Exactly, this stuff that i collect in order for material to be more accessible. Im not a writer, its not like my words are on the top of my mind all the time. Also, im not a native speaker, and i think that is also interesting. I dont care about English language the same way as maybe a native speaker would. I can make mistakes w/ out feeling guilty about it.
N: Yeah but also, u dont know certain things. If u have never lived in an English-speaking country, u can take some things completely out of context: it sounds good but it means something completely different. I think thats also kind of nice.
N: Its a bit like being dyslexic; u see the words as letters. Its some kind of mental dyslexia.
This article was first published in #5 Current Obsession Magazine, 2016