Kortil Gallery 03. - 11.5.2013.

The zero-actor

Exhibition of theatre posters by graphic designer Vanja Cuculic

A theatre poster by graphic designer Vanja Cuculic can be viewed as the zero-actor of the performance; although invisible on the cast list, it addresses the audience like an actor saying the prologue before everyone else. His entering the stage is prepared by reading the play, and thinking about its staging and interpretation. The nature of experience is the starting point for the author's approach, and it shapes the characteristics of the attitude taken that will in its own way influences the value and the intensity of the interpretation. Although two-dimensional, building a poster can be identified with building a character in a play.

Cuculic's media is visual and does not use voice, sound, or movement. Nevertheless, the dramaturgy of his posters is always audible and loud. Like a prologue, it spices the story, sends a preliminary message, and announces the content that will be performed on stage.
Usual elements of the visualisation of that content are typography and illustration. The typography normally answers the informative questions: who, what, when, and how, while illustrations introduce the game to the audience.

Illustrations consist of photos, paintings or drawing that are assembled on a monochrome background. The newly-created hybrids, made of parts taken from the world of humans, animals and objects, are imagined in a way to transform the content of the play into a visual message. This contemplative structure of Cuculic's imagination and logic is usually invisible at first sight, and it would remain hidden in the seemingly simple visual elements without their power to engage the viewer. It is these subliminal messages encoded between the layers of the work that makes Cuculic recognizable as author.

Active participation of the spectator is an important precondition for the understanding of Cuculic's message. By intriguing the viewer, he additionally motivates it to become the spectator of the entire performance. It is in that precise moment that his poster becomes the zero-actor performing his part.

As spectators/audience we can like or dislike his interpretation, just as we can or cannot identify with certain characters in the play. After all, the theatre is an immeasurably wide and always open training ground for the interpretation of the roles we play in different life situations. Isn't it?
Jolanda Todorovic