Sasha Veles and Sasha Greda are a duo of Russian artists: Sasha Veles is a scriptwriter and author, and Sasha Greda is a director. They were welcomed in residence Nora at the Saline royale d'Arc-et-Senans from February 22 to March 21, 2023.
After their anti-war performance Bucha-Moscow, in April 2022, which reproduced the position of the corpses of Bucha after the withdrawal of the Russian army, the artists spent two weeks in a detention center and had to leave Russia to avoid criminal prosecution.
When they arrived in France, they were stunned to find that domestic violence, and violence against women in general, was a real problem in society as it is in Russia, where many measures and actions in terms of gender relations still need to be taken.
Inspired by this sad observation for their residency, they wanted to write a theatrical performance in French entitled La Liberté guidant le peuple? in reference to the famous painting by Delacroix. Here they highlight the allegory of freedom, a woman, as a symbol against such violence.
"We spent four weeks in the residence of the Saline royale. This time was more than enough to double-check the resources needed for the project, study them and start working on the script. The residence helped us a lot to immerse ourselves in the work and not to be distracted by anything else. We were fortunate to be able to plan our days and our schedule."
The beginning of the residency consists of collecting testimonies from women who have experienced domestic violence as well as researching society's role towards domestic violence.
"We have been very lucky with our colleagues in the residency, who have been actively involved in the project. Agathe and Valentin helped us organize a meeting with a representative of a local organization for the protection of women against violence, we were able to ask and discuss the questions we needed for the project and agree on further joint work."
The final performance is participatory: the audience can vote online on a dedicated platform, influencing the script. The end of the show unfolds according to the different votes. The choice of the audience is an incentive to take a stand on domestic violence because in reality the lack of choice in these situations can be fatal for the victims.
The performance-experience thus allows to better understand the reactions of the civil society to real situations and to measure the degree of interaction, empathy or pressure on the people involved in the events.
"We would like to thank everyone at the Saline royale for their hospitality and cooperation, as well as for the organization of the project, which helps the artists to find themselves in such wonderful residencies!"