The event ALONE TOGETHER by the artist collective MONTAŽSTROJ is set to take place in the space of creation URANIA, on December 4 and 5 at 7 p.m.

The event ALONE TOGETHER combines the launch of a dedicated website with a conversation/meetup bringing together guest experts and a vested audience in a space dedicated to creative work. The event will also feature a short live performance, a docu-formance that will be recorded. ALONE TOGETHER is the starting point of a wider project in which Montažstroj addresses loneliness, a phenomenon spreading through developed countries like an epidemic with consequences that are growing into social, health, and political issues. The coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the risk of loneliness as a threat to public health.

The work process behind the project was based on a pseudo-documentary method that placed what seem to be completely private messages in the context of the Croatian reality during the corona crisis, i.e., the physical separation it had caused.

The event ALONE TOGETHER also serves as a launch of a dedicated website ALONETOGETHER, where you can find 30 video episodes of varying length shot in different locations with a 360° camera and edited in different formats. The website includes poetic records by Ana Prolić, originally sent as text messages.

The recordings feature characters (A and B) in front of the camera, reading out messages they had sent to each other’s phones. She reads his, he reads hers. The recordings suggest separation, even though the protagonists share physical space as they read. United by space. Separated by camera. Split by frame. United by recording. Never closer. Never farther.

Are they really them — or are they just characters they have created for each other in the virtual space of mobile phone communication? What is real and what is unreal? Does technology bring them together, or apart? Does communicating over a screen deepen understanding or misunderstanding? Can they truly share feelings this way? Do they feel like the other is always there? Does this mode of communication protect them from closeness? Do they feel lonelier? Do they see each other? Can they hear each other? Do they recognize each other? Do they recognize themselves in their own words? Are “they” really “they” or are they just characters created in the space of virtual communication? Are “they” happening or are they just performing love through the act of reading messages? Are they more real over a screen or face to face? 

These are the questions we will try to answer in the conversation, with participation from both the guest experts and the audience. The interaction will be therapeutic, participatory, and educational in nature.

Previous discussions on the issues of loneliness, the corona crisis, and new technologies have mostly been conducted following simplified frameworks. The project ALONE TOGETHER, set in a public space, wants to initiate a different approach towards the lonely. Opening this discussion is not only important in regards to the crisis caused by the pandemic and powerful digitalization, but also in order to reflect on the time that follows.

Is loneliness a broader political issue in Croatia? Is loneliness taboo, does it stigmatize? Can we correlate the current politico-economic paradigm that we live in with the increase in the number of lonely people? Are there socially, politically, or economically conditioned processes and mechanisms that contribute to loneliness, ultimately taking people to the bottom and impairing their health? Are there any quantitative or qualitative data on the issue of loneliness in the Republic of Croatia, whereas statistics from Western European countries expose loneliness as a political and social problem? Does any political body (e.g., the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth, and Social Policy) recognize loneliness as a social and health problem in our society? Do social networks solve this problem?

The guest on Sunday, December 4, will be Milana Vlaović Kovaček – writer, columnist, and psychotherapist writing about mental health, dealing with human relationships, analyzing the causes and consequences of our behaviors and modes of communication with the world, which we often call patterns. She will be joined by Tomislav Pletenac – professor of anthropology at the University of Zagreb, currently employed at the Department of Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts. His primary research interests are cultural trauma, postcolonialism, and popular culture, which he examines in a local context by relying on critical discourse analysis and post-Lacanian psychoanalysis. The conversation will be moderated by Ivana Antunović Jović, journalist and editor for Croatian Radio and Television’s cultural program.

The following day, Monday, December 5, once again in Urania, we meet Ana Perović – psychologist and psychotherapist deeply convinced that most of our closeness takes place in the space of navigating the experience of being, in certain ways, both connected to and separated from one another all of the time. Ana Perović will be joined by Leo Rafolt, full professor of performance studies, theater theory, and transcultural studies at the Academy of Arts and Culture of the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, while the conversation will be moderated by Domagoj Bebić, associate professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, lecturer in charge for New Media, and until recently head of the Department for Strategic Communication.

Text: Ana Prolić and Borut Šeparović / Director: Borut Šeparović / Dramaturgy: Ana Prolić / Performers: Ana Prolić and Borut Šeparović / Image and sound recording: Borut Šeparović / Editing, color correction: Konrad Mulvaj / Visual design, intro and subtitles: Konrad Mulvaj / Project coordination: Ante Ševo / Public relations and co-organization: PRiredba Studio

Thanks: HUG – Humanistička gimnazija, Retirement home Centar, Museum of Broken RelationshipsModul Concept StoreByblos restaurantSoho bar & kitchenZagreb City Libraries / Made possible byMinistry of Culture and Media of the Republic of CroatiaCity Office for Culture – City of ZagrebKultura Nova Foundation  / Production: MONTAЖ$TROJ / Co-production: Urania – space of creation

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