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Ethnofuturism - an insight of the humankind and a vision of the future

In shaping a creative personality, especially of an artist, the native language, traditions and folk culture play the most important role. Pictures of childhood, the traditional costume of relatives, the ancient household items, an Udmurt rug on the floor all this becomes imprinted in the person's memory, building up the strong sense of ethnic identity. This is an extended and complicated process. This is the road from suffering a complex of ethnic inferiority and from the feeling of being ashamed of your own language, to the feeling of pride for belonging to your people and being a part to one of the world's cultures. Indeed, this is a two-way road: from ethnic identity to personal identity and from personal identity to ethnic identity. During this development, the universal culture is gradually discovered and the person starts correlating his or her own work of art with this global level.

It looks as if one should first disengage from a particular culture to acquire the feeling of being a citizen of the world, a part of the eternal cosmos. It is only through this prism, through one's being aware of the enormous whole that the depth of one's roots can be actually evaluated. You never know when your genetic memory would wake up and the door into the ancient space would sweep open. "This is a great mystery", as it was once said.

The essence of artistic profession is to create images basing on the great spiritual experience gained by the humanity and to search for new expressive means. Ethnofuturist exhibitions in Udmurtia are a good example. At the turn of centuries, a gifted young generation has emerged, able to make a qualitative leap in Udmurt culture. They are active in painting, poetry, stage art, architecture and fiction. They are full of energy, spiritually mature and have something to say in the third millennium. This art intelligentsia is already shaping a new mentality of our people. I would like to particularly point at the group conducting regular ethnofuturist exhibitions in Udmurtia. These events draw participants from other Finno-Ugric regions. Gradually, these actions have been growing in scope to involve not only painters but actors, musicians, dancers, scientists and poets as well. The organisers were fortunate to generate the main idea and develop the concept of these actions such that the exhibitions have acquired a philosophical message, acting as a powerful binding factor for creative youth of different Finno-Ugrian countries.

The relation of an artist with the greater whole is sublimative. The artist's energy blazes invisible and surprising ways in this whole. It is the universal divine energy commanding this world that enables us to create. This energy puts on motion the engine of artist's mind, talent and education, shapes the personality. The creative impulse comes from the nature, from the cosmos, from the person's dialogue with God - and artist returns it through his art to the people. The artistic talent must develop freely, without being restricted to the framework of a particular culture. The school of ethnofuturism offers an artist an opportunity to make a breakthrough into the worldwide space.

Ethnofuturism is the culture of links that bind people and things together. It is strong enough to resist the scattering tendencies in this world. While the Slavic world has now come to be scattered and divided, the Finno-Ugrians have instead started building bridges and discovering each other with wonder. Now it is time to find those relations that are not visible or seem to have been lost. I mean the relations between the person and the God, between an artist and an official, between a human and a machine, between the microcosm and the macrocosm, and the relations between different categories, languages and genres. What are the properties of these relations? The only way to learn and understand these important things is through cultural action.

As the society still remains disunited, it cannot therefore express itself in an integral cultural message. In the 20th century we came to see a peculiar phenomenon of the genuine culture and the authorised culture being almost regularly in opposition. But the authorised art, too, can reach a qualitatively new level. It was not by an accident that the International Centre of Theatre in Paris was established by a person like Peter Brook who is a world-wide known art director, an enthusiastic experimenter, and the author of a new method in stage art.

It is also important not to yield to standard ideas concerning your own culture. Superficial attributes of ethnicity, sheer appearance are often understood as culture. For the genuine culture to come to view, one has to get free from the hypnosis of the so-called folklore element. This element is exploited everywhere; in all countries folklore groups are established and popularised as a manifestation of ethnic culture. However, this is just a pseudo-ethnic phenomenon. In Russia, the genuine national culture is concealed in remote places where the traditional patriarchal way of life has remained. If you visit a Udmurt village, you can see peasants for whom living in the traditional culture is reality. They have retained their customs, rites, ceremonies and elements of their pagan religion, and they observe the folk calendar.

My Udmurt grandmother never wore dresses bought in a shop. She always wore traditional clothes. As a person who happened to live in the 20th and 21st centuries, in the second and third millennium, and as an artist, I would prefer to see the native ethnic culture free, brought up to date and inspired by the divine presence. I like to experiment, to weave the fabric of my performance and to embroider it with mythological patterns of ancient archetypes. These archetypes communicate with the present in a strange way, obtaining bizarre and infernal forms of the theatre of future. What sort of theatre will it be? I think that, above all, it shall be free from falseness, emotionally strong, embracing the whole, and multidimensional in its scope, bringing together the real and the irreal, the past and the future. This is the challenge for a contemporary artist who works and creates in the aesthetics of ethnofuturism.

In our times, it is important to make bridges between people of different culture, religion and origin, to find the links binding them together, and to transform these links into a modern theatre, the theatre of ethnic school. In the third millennium, ethnic theatre appears to be an undoubtedly natural phenomenon. Its very existence is a sign of the time, since the world has only one reference point. In the beginning of an era, a distinctly different way of thinking tends to emerge, provoked by the need to search for new forms and to get rid of mental stereotypes. For example, we must view the folklore, the spiritual and material culture of the Udmurts in the context of other traditional cultures of the world.

Mythology and ethnography of all peoples have common roots. This is a global tree, the layer of modern culture being a part of it. In this fusion of cultures we can find surprising analogies of plots, images and traditions. Archetypes are common to all, despite the difference in languages. Actually, the monoperformance Three Wedding Tunes conducted in Udmurt language is not an Udmurt play but a universal show understood by everyone regardless of nationality or age. It unites people, since they have common feelings, emotions and ideas about the world. Other ideals common to all humanity are love, patience, belief and altruism.

The art of theatre will advance through philosophical comprehension, accumulation of experience of all traditional cultures, and the ability to transform and synthesise archetypes from the world's mythology and to embody them basing of own traditional culture. This process requires new aesthetics of ethno-theatre characterised by reviving the deep antiquity through the prism of the actual present and the aspirations for the future. An important element in this process is the language. Each language is unique. Each language sounds as magical music, as a message from the cosmos. The distinct melodic substance of a particular language is the emotional code reflecting the passions that give birth to the language. That is why, to the ears of a contemporary spectator, a text in Old Russian or a Udmurt prayer sounds so fantastic.

The ultimate goal is to achieve that the sound, the form, the colour, the way of actor's communication influence the audience and produce catharsis, the phenomenon for the sake of which the theatre and other arts were devised. Ethnofuturism is part of this art. It is thus an insight of the humankind and a vision of the future.

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