Site-specific installation by Kosta Karakashyan
Opening: 21.06 | 6:30 PM
Minutes Ago is the second of four site-specific installations relating to the topic "Like the State, the Toilet is Never Neutral". With it, Kosta Karakashyan documents the different human presences and their manifestations in the public toilet. The space is presented as a safe space in which it becomes possible to perform intimate acts, as well as those identified as unacceptable. Through the mediums of contemporary dance and performance, the aesthetic qualities of diverse situations are emphasised, and they are viewed subjectively, therefore, erasing their banality. The multi-layered experience that the visitor goes through provokes them to view the intervention as a surreal encounter in which the boundaries between reality and fantasy are obscured.
The installation focuses on characters who are completely anonymous. They are social outsiders whose true existence, defining them as who they are, remains hidden in the space of the public toilet. Their life in the outside world remains completely untraceable and the lack of proof of their existence invites the visitor to accept the possibility that, apart from being real, they could also be a product of their imagination. Forgotten artefacts and traces left behind engage our minds to imagine what intimate acts were performed by the users before us. The acts in question become a kind of social secret, and as such, the assumptions of the various witnesses are altered, despite the fact they originate from a single source.
At first glance, one gets the feeling that the toilet is a "no man's land", a territory of neutrality. A space where the performing characters are not persecuted by society and are able to perform their most intimate acts. A closer look, however, reveals the fact that it is precisely because the toilet fulfils this function for them that it ceases to be an impersonal and banal space. It has been transformed into a place that constitutes a basic shelter for certain people who have given it the value of an intimate refuge in itself.
The characters' choreographed actions are informed by research into different types of toilet space designs which serve to secure or restrict certain activities. In that surreal experience, the characters are free to achieve their goal, and the audience is granted the opportunity to be an observer who does not interrupt the action.
Kosta Karakashyan is a Bulgarian-Armenian director, choreographer, performer, and writer exploring empathy through movement and storytelling.
His work has been described as "an important voice for LGBTQ+ struggles in Chechnya and elsewhere" by The Columbia Spectator. A two-time Bulgarian National Ballroom Champion, Kosta has performed and choreographed on Dancing With the Stars Vietnam, Bulgaria's Got Talent, and across Canada, Germany, Norway, Egypt, Vietnam, and Japan. He graduated with a BA in Dance from Columbia University and a Master's in Human Rights from the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice, Italy.
Kosta has worked with artists such as Rita Ora, Years and Years, Sherihan and Preyah, directors Jonathan Alric, Alaska, Manu Cossu and Will Hopper, and commercial clients Škoda, Calvin Klein, H&M, Kohler, Method, EE, Studio Zard, Florsheim, and SRB Paris (featured in Vogue Russia). Bringing his experience of choreography and performance to the screen, Kosta has directed, produced, and choreographed numerous short films and videos through his production company Studio Karakashyan, most notably the documentary dance film WAITING FOR COLOR about the ongoing LGBTQ+ persecution in Chechnya, awarded the Prix Lumière at Cinédanse Festival Ottawa 2019. WAITING FOR COLOR has been selected at over 20 festivals worldwide and featured by The Guardian, Elle Magazine, Bloomberg, them, GLAAD, and Radio Free Europe.
His choreography has been presented by the Columbia Ballet Collaborative (NYC), Ballet Arabesque (Bulgaria), and the Gabrovo Biennial of Humor and Satire (Bulgaria). He was part of David France's BAFTA-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary feature film Welcome to Chechnya as a face double protecting the anonymity of the real subjects of the film. He is the creator and founding editor-in-chief of Out.bg, a Bulgarian LGBTQ+ community platform, featured on BBC World Service OS and The New East is Queer.
The project is realized with the support of the National Culture Fund.