27-05-2023 Art 14756

Nazariy Bodenko: an Interview with the Performer

Nazariy Bodenko: an Interview

Today, Nazariy Bodenko, a performer from the city of Lviv, will help me open the door to the mysterious world of contemporary art. The audience is always surprised by the uniqueness and unexpectedness of Nazariy’s talent. The first things I felt when I met Nazariy were his passion for art and also the boundless energy radiating from his eyes.

Nazariy Bodenko, an actor and a performer, always keeps moving. He keeps experimenting, expanding the boundaries of traditional theatre, and creating unforgettable performances where spectators turn into active participants.

So, if you are ready for a journey to Nazariy Bodenko’s world, let’s go.

Назарій Боденко: інтерв’ю з перформером

Nazariy, thank you for accepting our invitation. As you may know, Portal Experiment is a website devoted to cultural and scientific topics. It’s a great honour for us to see you here, as far as I consider you one of the most insightful Ukrainian artists of today. And my first question is the following: how are you?

I’m fine, thank you.

When did you think that you are an artist for the first time?

Being a performer from the West of Ukraine I have never been an artist in the way this word is classically understood. However, I can say that I started feeling like an artist or discovered that I have some artistic abilities in a little bit different way. I saw myself as an artist for the first time when I started to perform on stage combining the elements of acting, theatre, choreography and music. Those actions, perhaps, still quite raw at that time, allowed me to reveal my personality through movement, sound, images and other elements to convey certain ideas or emotions. Step by step these performances became a part of my life, I began to explore various aspects of art, to improve my skills and to develop my own style. They became my means of communication with the audience, a way to express my inner self and to provoke reflection. Although I do not consider myself a traditional artist, my performances allow me to use art as a way to unite with the audience and to make an impact on their feelings and perceptions. They form a space for creativity where I can experiment.

Primarily what made you become an artist?

Hmmm… It’s a difficult question. The thing is that I hear music in everything: in everything I do, in everything I imagine and in everything I look at.

Art gives me an opportunity to express my personal vision of the world and to convey my emotions and ideas through my works.

The concepts of my performances let me share my attitude toward love and death with other people. But everything I do is dedicated only to love.

Назарій Боденко перформер

As far as you have been working in performance and theatre for years, have you come to a conclusion about what is closer to you where you feel more natural?

Yes, I have been playing in the theatre for years, I acted in sketch shows, commercials and music videos. The theatre has become an integral part of me.  When I am on the stage in front of the audience I feel natural and at ease, I do feel comfortable in the theatre. Performances, however, allow me to try something new, to reveal another side of my personality. That is you do not have to play a certain role and re-read the scenario hundreds of times, you do not have to get into the character you play.

Through the concept of performance, you can use your spiritual experience, your body, and the bodies of other performers, you can act depending on the circumstances while giving some symbolic ritualistic sense to each pose, each gesture, to your position in space. In performances, you are completely free and open, you have no boundaries, there is no tyrant director who would force you to share their vision and you never know how and when your actions will be over (which is the most interesting aspect of performances).

Nazariy Bodenko: an Interview

You also make musical instruments, don’t you?

Yes, that’s right! Making musical instruments has become my passion and one of the ways to fulfil my creativity. This process is very slow and meditative, I constantly experiment. I will often use the word “experiment” in this interview, I like it immensely. So, what was I saying?.. Ah, yes. I made more than 40 different instruments. Making them allows me to explore new sounds, forms and materials.

Актор Назарій Боденко

Would people who used to know you as a child be surprised to find out who you would become?

I would be very surprised myself, and people who knew me as a child even more so. They saw me as a small boy, they used to expect something from me, to imagine my future.

From early childhood I appeared to be a creative person, I was into different kinds of art. Although the journey I have made may seem unexpected to many people, this is the result of my own evolution and of my longing for new horizons in the world of art and technology.

I have a long way to become who I am now: a painter, an artist, a musician, a performer, an actor, a musical instrument maker and an engineer. I combine various spheres of creativity and use them for self-expression.

People around me might be surprised to see how I reveal my capabilities in different spheres and to realise how versatile I am now.

You have a degree as a design engineer. How did your education influence your career?

My education in engineering has expanded my creative potential. Having analytical thinking skills allows me to use my technical knowledge, reconsider traditional approaches to acting, and experiment with new methods of playing the roles. It even helps me in scenario development. My ability to get into details helps me in shaping and understanding the characters from various points of view and different perspectives.

What exactly are you exploring now?

History and memory. I’m tackling issues of history, collective memory, traditions and heritage through my performances. They are supposed to provoke spectators’ reflections on past and present, life and death, war and language. They have to consider their attitude towards space and their surroundings. I study the influence of society on an individual, relationships between people and the world around them. I am concerned about social, cultural, political and gender issues. But, all in all, everything I do is dedicated to love.

At the end of May, you are going to Ivano-Frankivsk with your “Letter One” performance. What do you aim to convey with this future work of yours?

This performance is relevant for Ukraine, as it is dedicated to the themes of destruction and rebirth, defiance and will. We want to remind people, to a certain extent, who they are, and what past they possess, we want them to remember that time flies, and to remember the milestones of our history.

Перформер Назарій Боденко

What kind of role does an artist play in the modern society? Do the artists get voices strong enough to speak out?

Artists play an important role in contemporary society, they express individuality, they provoke emotions and raise burning issues. They draw attention to important problems.

Artists create space for dialogue, critical thinking and for changes, encouraging people to look at the world from a different point.

An appreciation of the artists’ creative freedom and their impact has been growing in modern society. Social media and the internet, in their turn, provide artists and their audiences with new means of communication. Artists have learnt to make good money thanks to society’s demand for their unique art. As for the speaking out… I guess, if someone is an artist, they do not need voices to be given. They have them already and these voices are strong enough to break brick walls. Someone will definitely hear. It might not happen during an artist's lifetime, but this, after all, does not matter much.

And now, I’m going to shoot some questions, if you don’t mind. We have selected the most interesting questions among those asked by the readers of our portal.

Who has had the greatest artistic impact on you?

Leonardo da Vinci, Marina Abramovich, Herman Hoshkador.

Tell us about your favourite media.

I’m not sure. I haven’t got one. I read Google Arts & Culture, Hyperallergic, and your website sometimes, if we are talking about convergent media. I enjoy reading the “Lifestyle” section. In general, I mostly watch online plays. But, actually, I haven’t got much time for that.

Where do you find inspiration?

In nature, in watching dawns and sunsets, in music, in my friends.

Which time of the day is the best for your creative work?


What motivates you to create?

The very process of creation and the final result.

How would you define an artist’s success?

An artist is someone who aims to share their personal vision of the world with the audience. To share their own way to feel the world. And if a spectator can take over the idea, the emotion which was put into this work, perhaps this is what success is for an artist.

Does art help you in the other spheres of your life?

I can’t imagine my life without art.

How do you develop your artistic skills?

I always search for something new, I always improve my skills and experiment, did I use the word “experiment” earlier? I experiment with new techniques and styles.

Do you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend?

No’ I don’t.

How do you spend your day?

I’m a very busy person. Literally every minute of my day is scheduled, I sometimes have to plan for some weeks or even months ahead.

Назарій Боденко

So, this was a blitz quiz. And now I would like to shift the focus of our talk to your work at the theatre.  The first Kafka Theatre performance I attended was “Singularity”. I was, how to put it more precisely, not just surprised but rather overwhelmed (I’m not sure, was it a positive or a negative feeling). I was bewildered. After your premiere in Lviv, I had a number of questions about both your idea and about implementing it. But now I'd like to ask a question that a friend of mine, with whom I was at the performance, asked me: how do you feel naked in public?

Balance and comfort are the crucial issues of performing naked. It’s important to define one’s limits, to feel safe and to respect the audience’s reaction. Every artist has their own borders and their own style of self-expression. I feel absolutely self-assured, comfortable and at ease. It’s a process of self-discovery when you have to be determined and ready for new, guess what? Right, experiments.

Nazariy Bodenko

The Kafka Theatre has a YouTube channel. From time to time video versions of your old performances are published there. What’s your opinion about these video versions? Don’t you think that a play loses about 80% of the possible impact if you watch it on the screen?

Watching a performance live in the theatre and watching it online are two different kinds of experiences, each having its advantages and peculiarities. A live performance gives you a genuine atmosphere and direct contact with the actors. You can feel the energy and emotions conveyed by the performance and become a part of it.

The online format allows watching a performance from anywhere and at any time. Of course, some air of presence and interaction is lost when you watch a performance on your screen. Moreover, some detail and effects of the live experience might not be felt as they should in a video format.

But both variants are good, your choice depends on your preferences, possibilities and on the kind of experience you would like to get.

Many of the plays and performances that we staged in our theatre, such as “Singularity”, “Aya” and “The Blind People”, were 'one-offs'. You could watch them live only.

They were finely tuned for a certain location, time, space and audience, staged and played once to be never seen again. That is how we shared our unique and unforgettable experience with spectators.

Nazariy Bodenko

Now I would like to talk about failures. Nazariy Bodenko is better known in Ukraine as a theatre actor than as a performer. But I have seen some of the latest experimental plays of yours, such as “My Weak Knees”, “Lesson”, “Desire”, “My Friend Brontosaurus”, “Spanish Inquisition”, “Not Enough to Be”, “A Dead End in Space” and so on, and I came to a conclusion that the majority of Ukrainian audience is not yet ready to accept your creative pursuits and innovations. So I have a question. How do you react when people criticise your work or laugh at it?

I accept any constructive criticism. People have the right to think and say whatever they want, I do not mind. I carry my idea and my creativity. No one can stop me.

When you fail, do you learn from this experience?

The more you fail, the more you understand the reasons for your failures. You can’t develop without failures. They accompany us everywhere. They give us a priceless experience, and opportunities to pause, reconsider something, make conclusions and proceed with new knowledge, with a new idea and with new strength.

Nazariy Bodenko: an Interview with the Performer

My final question will be trivial. What advice would you give to an aspiring performance artist?

I will give a very simple answer. If a young performer still needs advice, then he is not ready yet. Because giving advice in performance is just wild. Performers simply embody their fantasies and concepts. I you do it fairly, people see it. That’s all, actually.

Well, thank you for the interview. Talking to you is as interesting as watching you on stage.

Thank you, nice to hear that.

актор Назарій Боденко

The performer was interviewed by Veronika Rupenthal

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