”Toys That Created Our Ideological Being – The Optimism of Nostalgia” is a research project by Anja Susa, Professor of Directing.
This artistic research project aims at questioning and analyzing childhood as a reservoir of ideological set up that defines us and in a certain way forms our ideological apparatus which very often carries us into our adulthood.
Having grown up in what today IS referred to as former Yugoslavia, a country which for me is still very much present through my memory or my ideological construct of it, although it doesn't exist as a physical space any longer, I have often in my artistic work, dealt with the subject of memory – both personal as well as collective – that constitutes community around a certain theatre event.
After directing the performance “Maja And Me And Maja” (at Bitef Theatre in Belgrade in 2012.) which was dedicated to one of the internationally very popular childhood books by the Belgian authors Marlier and Delahaye – astonishingly popular in socialist Yugoslavia, I have decided to continue researching the subject of the politically of seemingly apolitical childhood.
In this project, I would like to research the instrumentalization of children´s toys as ideological tools, primarily through my own experience of growing up in Yugoslavia of the 1970es and 1980es and possibly expanding the focus to Sweden where I live nowadays. I am particularly interested in Sweden of Olof Palme or the golden age of the Welfare State.
I see certain similarities between the imaginary concept of non-aligned Yugoslavia and ever more deteriorating and to a certain extent also imaginary concept of the Swedish welfare state as it is widely remembered or perhaps imagined. To paraphrase Zygmunt Bauman who recently introduced us with the concept of the so called “retrotopia” which he describes as a procedure which aims at addressing the loss of our faith in utopias in general in the way that instead of projecting our visions on the future, we project them on the past – thus creating a fictionalized version of the “undead” past – not in the way it existed but in the way we would like to remember it.
This project has just started and I am working on collecting the materials and thinking of possible representational formats.