I have always been sceptical about jury trials. The thought that verdicts are reached by a group of ordinary, easily manipulated people scares me. The court room is a stage and the outcome depends not on the truth but on the performance of the lawyers. The suggestible nature of the judiciary system, shared by theatre and art, are put on trial by Jasna Layes Vinovrški in her latest piece Lady Justice (part of 2017 Dance Week Festival in Zagreb). Lady Justice tackles the issues of control over an art piece in an easy-going and humorous solo.
Restricted to the space of a single corridor, Vinovrški’s movement is cramped. She balances piles of paper on her head, as with the books of her previous piece Staying Alive. The structure of the piece follows a typical strict trial procedure. The artist is the defendant; the art piece is the prosecutor. There’s the usual introductory statement followed by testimonies of both parties. Then Vinovrški brings to our attention to the audience’s role as jury, by making us active participants of the performance. She hands out ‘evidence’ for us to question, so we rattle with chains, toss a globe, eat chocolate hearts and examine different objects representing the lyrics of the 60s human rights movement song by Nina Simone, ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’, which she reads out loud.
By the end of this seriously hilarious show, we are left wondering who has really won the case – the artist, the art piece or we as an audience?