11.3.2024, 18:54:32   |  Photo: Martin Říčan  |   Category: Interdisciplinarity, Process of making, Art & Society

Pseudologia fantastica

Key words:

By writing this text, I wish to reflect on a certain topic discussed during the Choreographic forum, organized by Center for choreographic development SE.S.TA, in Prague in November 2023. I use an open form to express my stream of thoughts, associations and questions which arose while discussing the topic of fiction and reality in relation to my personal experience within performing arts. References in this text were given by participants of the Choreographic forum; some materials are coming from my notes focused on movement observation and artistic practice.

Delusional puzzle

The first thing coming to my mind when discussing fiction and reality is the iconic American phrase: “Fake it till you make it”.  Meaning behind can be understood as “an aphorism that suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life and achieve the results they seek.”

As a young, slightly confused artist, I have come across this expression many times as in advice given. Be brave, expose yourself and pretend to be someone with knowledge, confidence or skills, which you don’t really have yet, until the point when they become real. 

This particular phrase might bring some quite negative connotations, but perhaps if it doesn’t lead to actual lies, there might be a major benefit hiding behind it. The placebo effect as a superpower of our mind to produce reality based on beliefs is a fascinating possibility to me.

On the other hand, Peter Brook in his book “Threads of Time” raised a question in the context of directing an art work: “If a person doesn’t know, why should we pretend?”  

Perhaps he is suggesting to be honest with your “not knowing”. Admit and adjust. I suppose that itself might eventually, as well as faking it till making it, help with finding solutions.

It is a challenge to find a sense of reality at a moment when I finally managed to get myself out of the rollercoaster of study and teenage years. My artistic identity appears to me more as a puzzle made out of advice, education system, behavior and approaches given by others. What do I really believe in? What do I actually know? Why do I keep admiring everyone else's reality? Listening to the truth being offered, yet slowly falling into my own delusions.

Methodology of a lie

Thierry Bae in his movie Journal d'inquiétude can make a perfect example not only to the already mentioned phrase. In his film, he as an unknown artist promised to perform a nonexistent piece with a famous dancer who has not yet agreed on working with him. A very tricky lie leads to an exceptional story line.  On the creative way, he obviously comes across many difficulties. He tries to work with famous dancers, which either injure themselves, quit, or don’t even find the studio. Attempts to build up his stamina and technique himself eventually lead to feeling ashamed of loosing something so crucial in a dancers life. 

Finally, creating in the studio all alone, he goes through a specific monologue which has especially caught my attention. While trying to embody characteristics of a dead man, he said: “What is a dead’s guy stare like? I don’t know. A dead guy’s stare? I am still too much out of breath. Would you believe me: You walk into the studio and I am dead. Do you believe this? Wait! My breath is too loud.”

After seeing this particular scene, my question was, how to become something I am not? More than that, how can I make myself believe completely? 

While searching for movement material, there are often moments of the already mentioned ,,not knowing”. 

Movements of my spine, arms and legs are tired, emotions are numb, skin uncomfortable. It simply does not feel believable. How do I find a way for my mind and body to perform an honest state? How to become dead without ever having the experience of dying? Maybe I need to build a perfect fiction, which transforms into an unquestionable reality. In other words, train myself in the invention of a new truth. Building every detail with precision to achieve logic, that your mind and body follows. Later on while being on stage, perhaps it is a test of how strong your own fiction is. Is this the moment to offer an alternative reality to the audience?

As Friedrich Mohr said in the performance The Making of Berlin, honesty is only one step before boring. It made me ask again. Can artists be viewed as brilliant liars? Ability to embrace and organize your own delusions, visions and beliefs, travel between fiction and reality, transform one into the other seems to be part of the craft.

Fake till…

…you make it. But make what? What is the final destination? Fake it till you become the best fake? Or fake it till you find yourself? 

Perhaps the journey through lies, beliefs and realities of others is here to recognize our own.



Fake it till you make it definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_it_till_you_make_it

Thierry Bae, Journal d ́inquiétude: https://vimeo.com/95333693

The Making of Berlin: https://www.divadloarcha.cz/en/program/detail/2739/2023-10-06-the-making-of-berlin


Peter Brook: Threads of Time: Recollections, 1999. 

Author: Natalie Tun

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