Shannon Cochrane on Freedom is Always Freedom for the One Who Thinks Differently by Neda R. Bric

The famous copy-cat Marcel Duchamp (after Paul Gauguin) once said, “Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” In the case of the performance Freedom is Always Freedom for the One Who Thinks Differently (title inspired by a Rosa Luxemburg quote) by Neda R. Bric, presented on the Opening Night of City of Women, this quote couldn’t be more true, or more of out step with reality. Freedom is Always Freedom for the One Who Thinks Differently shows us that some things bear repeating, again and again and again.

Using collaged text borrowed from famous feminist writers, sages, thinkers, and revolutionaries, the artist and her chorus of female performers, each woman occupying one of the 9 windows that fill the façade of a three-story building on the corner of Levstikov Trg, deliver a unified manifesto on freedom, revolution, the and the art of being female in a world that doesn’t always value that particular attribute. This is clear to me, in spite of the fact that I don’t speak Slovene, and despite the fact I don’t have the benefit of the City of Women’s main-matriarch Mara Vujić translating in my ear.

The performance is also stunningly executed (technically and aesthetically – the snippets of quotes and the author’s names projected on the side of the building throughout the performance adds another visual layer, etching the artist’s intention on the architecture) and the overall image the artist creates is clear and strong. Even though I don’t understand the language, the meaning of the words resonates on a deeper level, and I feel a part of the work. I understand that these words are both for me, and about me. It is an invitation to shared authorship, and a call to arms.

Taking the theme of City of Women to task, (Let’s Create A Place For Ourselves) Bric’s performance dissolves the gap between the public and the private. The entire building becomes a stage, and the women’s voices project from the inside out, erasing the gap between the domestic and the street, mumbled desires and protest chants screamed from the bottom of our lungs. Let me speak. Let me speak!

At the conclusion of the performance Bric leaves her window frame and joins us on the street, while a joyful song plays and the women dance and rejoice. She rhythmically moves her way through the crowd and from a large straw basket she is holding, she offers each person in turn a smooth white stone. This gesture seems to say, “It’s not much, but it’s all we have, and it is yours.” In the context of the performance, this action also reminds that a stone is heavy and hard, and can be thrown, underlining that these words have weight.