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Ines Borovac: Collo

August 19th - September 16th  2022

Collo began with the author's wish to dwell deeper into the social complexity of the Croatian and Balkan nation. Thus, the research is not relying on arguments of the written theory but rather using the tools of somatic knowledge to unfold the roots of the patriarchal influence on national bodies. With the case study of Croatian traditional dance, the project is highlighting the patriarchal values of body movements which are represented to the world as a national ideal. As the dances were created by the people themselves, the author is using anthropological approach towards the dances for the better understanding of non-verbal values locked inside of the Croatian bodies. 

As Nadine Botha depicts: “Even though traditional Croatian folk dances are rarely still danced outside of the stage, bodies are ethnographic archives of movements and behaviours that are inherited across many generations of family, culture and society. Through performative design research in a collaboration with the dance therapist, the author identified the embodied gender and social norms embedded in the Kolo (a basic folk dance popular among Slavic people).”

It was then re-choreographed and based on movements that express vulnerability, sexuality and self-expression. Contemporary choreography was created following the feminist aproach of care, understanding and equality. Newly formed dance was led by a female leader, the author herself. Borovac is taking over the role of a leader (kolovođa) using it as a statement towards the shift of the traditional roles. The role of the dance leader was traditionally ultimately a male role, where the most masculine individual in the social circle of the village would guide the whole group of the dancers by voraciously shouting the commands. The commands were mostly directed to the male dancers giving them guides on how to manage the female body whereas in COLLO Borovac uses the power of the role (kolovođica) to encourage the bodies and movements of equality while also giving them space for self-expression. 

Besides the movements and the choreography, the project also deconstructs the elements of music and clothing. Techno music and embroidered clothing contemporise the project to today’s rave aesthetic. Challenging the often conservative and patriotic field of heritage, the project is changing the context and the audience by placing it in a subculture of an underground society. Contrasting context of the rave environment welcomes the exploration of sexuality and identity, offering the safe space for re-building of individuals far from the national pressure of conservative values. With this being said, the project expresses the need and ability to evolve rather than discard cultural traditions. 

Performers: Ema Šajatović, Ema Kani, Nino Bokan, Una Matija Štalcar, Vid Vugrinec, Ines Borovac / DJ: Bruno Bolfan / Music Production: Marko Milas / Camera: Urh Pirc

Ines Borovac is a social designer and performance artist born in Croatia, currently living in the Netherlands. She holds a Master degree from Design Academy Eindhoven, MA Social design where she developed her practice in the field of performative design. As a performer, Borovac places the body and movement at the core of her work, using knowledge coming from various somatic practices. As a feminist, in her practice she infiltrates various systems regulated by normative values (eg workplaces, traditional rites, religious rituals) with the aim of creating embodied speculative futures. The ultimate goal of Borovac’s work is to re-enact coded movements with a critical approach towards the body, while developing scenarios, tools or spaces that question oppressive social norms. In 2022, together with Ginevra Petrozzi, Borovac co-founded the art-design duo Xsenofemme.


The exhibition is part of the Prostor’s programme Rituals, supported by Foundation Kultura nova, Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia and City of Split.

Curator: Jasmina Šarić

Text: Ines Borovac

Technical setup: Marino Vukasović, Ines Borovac

Special thanks to Mavena, Queeranarchive and Studio-21-

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