Interview with Aldina Topcagic: About "Displaced Rhythms" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb

Conducted by Josipa Bubas for the Croatian Dancers Scene

International Dance Day 2024



You can find the original interview on the link below. Please find the english translation underneath. 


You were a guest with the dance-music intervention Displaced Rhythms at Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb on the occasion of International Dance Day.  What motivates you to move dance into museum spaces? In which museums did you perform interventions and did the collaborators differ from performance to performance?

My motivation for moving dance into museum spaces comes from a number of reasons. First, the barrier between the artist and the audience is smaller because we share the same "stage",  we are on the same level in the exhibition space, where we are connected through the experience of the exhibited works of art and performance art. This enables direct interaction between artists and visitors. Museum visitors become part of the intervention in an active and passive way. I am especially glad by the reaction of museum visitors who are happy and positivly surprised to see live art in a space where they did not expect it. The experience of the exhibited art is intensified by the addition of contemporary dance, selected voice, music and other artistic expressions, because additional senses are activated, which contributes to the overall experience of the viewer.

I started performing interventions in museums in 2016. Since then I have collaborated with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, BOZAR museum in Brussels, the Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz, Kunsthaus Graz, Fabrica de Arte Cubano in Havana, Bajor Giza Museum in Budapest and other museums and art houses around Europe.

Contributors differed, depending on which type of art would be best suited for a particular intervention, exhibition space, and museum atmosphere.


At MSU you collaborated with classical musicians and it was really interesting to hear opera voices in the context of MSU. What interested you in this selection and how did the performance refer to the exhibited works?

In the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, I wanted to create a contrast between classical and contemporary art, which simultaneously intensifies both styles. My artwork often contains conscious experimentation and contrasts to enhance the experience of the artwork. After I used one opera voice for the first time in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in 2019, where the museum atmosphere and classical musicians were compatible, because the atmosphere of the museum resembled an opera house or a traditional theater, at MSU I collaborated with two opera voices for the first time, soprano Margareta Klobučar and tenor Ino Klasen. It was a challenge for me to create a concept in the museum that connects two opera voices, without the performance of the aria being in the style of a classical concert accompanied by music and dance, but to create a museum intervention that is a symbiosis of dance, music, and voice in the exhibition space. I like challenges and I think it worked out very well.

It was an honor to perform an intervention as part of the installation of the Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto, one of the main representatives of kinetic art. Kinetic art focuses on creating moving sculptures and installations, which created a dynamic perception and additional experience for us artists and visitors of the Museum of Contemporaray Art Zagreb.

In addition, my choice of art form is also connected with the fact that the operatic voice and instrumental sound create a special atmosphere in the space and its frequencies reach different levels of our mind and consciousness, from the conscious mind to the subconscious.


The performance also talked about genocide, sexuality, responsibility. What text did you use and why is it important for you to talk about these topics in the context of International Dance Day?

I personally believe that art, among other things, has a responsibility to deal with relevant social topics and issues of our history and present. Since I am originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that experienced genocide only 29 years ago, and because of the current armed conflicts around the world, I believe that as an artist and war survivor I have a responsibility to raise awareness about the situation in the world and about our history. Ignoring or denying history cannot lead to reconciliation in society, which risks repeating the past. Sexual violence is used as a weapon in war, but sexualization and violence against women and vulnerable groups is unfortunately present in many societies. Using the transformative power of art, we can raise the awareness and knowledge of the individual and reduce society's ignorance of the mentioned topics. The selected musical songs simultaneously permeate the ideas of hope, peace, perserverance, and dignity.

For the spoken word part, I used parts of the song "The World Goes Blind" by the singer and songwriter Samer and the poem "I Rise" by the poet Maya Angelou.

The goal of International Dance Day is to celebrate dance as an artistic expression, promote the diversity of dance styles and raise awareness of the importance of dance in culture and society. I think it's important to talk about these topics on a day that celebrates artistic expression, which I use as a contemporary dance artist. This is where the above-mentioned contrast arose, which I like to apply in my work, because the people in the audience did not expect such topics on that day. This could be observed in the views of museum visitors during and immediately after the intervention. The impression was even stronger, especially because their senses were intensivly activated by the types of art used and the proximity to the performers, which the museum space makes possible. This means that my intention succeeded - to raise people's awareness of the mentioned topics.


What are you working on now, what are your current interests?

I am currently engaged in the preparation of the third edition of "Sarajevo Contemporary Dance Intensive", organized by the cultural association Art Alive, of which I am the founder. This event will take place in the last week of August in Sarajevo and is a professional contemporary dance workshop with the participation of dancers from all over Europe. This year, Cuban choreographer Maura Morales is a special guest.

In addition, I am preparing a new solo performative installation on the theme of homeland and belonging, and I plan to write a book.


You received honorary citizenship in Austria. Do you experience yourself as an Austrian artist and how important are such recognitions to you?

Austria is the fourth country I've lived in, and I've spent the longest period of my life there so far. I am extremely honored to have received honorary citizenship of the Republic of Austria, which represents a great recognition for my work so far. On that occasion, I was able to keep my Bosnian citizenship. However, I believe that it is important to know where we come from, where our roots and origins are, regardless of where we are at the moment. This enables us to truly and authentically contribute with our work not only to our homeland, but also to any other society in the world. My roots are in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am primarily resident in Austria, but also in Bosnia. Maybe in the future it will be some other country. All my past experiences, including all the countries I've lived in, have shaped me into the artist I am today. Therefore, I would not be able to specify the nationality that characterizes me as an artist.

To receive recognition is an honor and I look forward to every recognition. However, what is long-term and the essence of my work is the change I achieve at the level of the individual, because the change of society begins with the individual.