From 1984 onward, I developed my own way of making performances, in which my main goal was radiation, influence, a conveyance of my own psychological state, inspiration, emotions, and experience to the audience, as well as to a broader environment. My performances were rather unusual, a real adventure at a time when, generally speaking, performances here and elsewhere had become choreographed shows, costumed spectacles, using music, light pantomime, or acting.
I did not dress specially for my performances; I wore my everyday clothes. I did not rehearse my performances or act them out according to some scenario, because I ”impersonated” my own self. I did not make any physical preparations either because in my performances I mainly talked and simultaneously radiated spiritual energy towards the environment. Speech was the basic method of breaking the mental barrier between me and my audiences, and also a way to prepare them for what followed, by communicating my own stream of thoughts and finally, if needed, conveying the conclusions. In my performances, which I called (spi)rituals – rituals of spiritual exchange –
(Left image- "Love", 1984)
(In this performance Andrej Tisma caressed the world: continents, seas, oceans, rivers, mountains and valleys, transmitting his love to the whole planet by means of a world map. He used the phrase "I love You" from the Elvis Presley's song "Love Me Tender" repeated 200 times, as the background sound.)
I used some objects, sounds, earth, and water, I distributed printed materials, and I placed stamps… all with the aim of breaking the communication barrier in order to get closer to the spectator and not in order to cause visual or any other sensual visual or any other sensual effects. It was more of an impact of surprise or the joy of receiving, which psychologically incites attention and establishes the spectators’ concentration on the performance itself and the content it carries. It was more of an opening up of the spectators’ psyche for an easier acceptance of the message, or establishing mental resonance.
(Right Image- "be thankful child to the mother earth", 1990)
In a performance – (spi)ritual – I was most of all intrigued by its effect on the audience and events. My acting was not a mime, a symbolic act, mere scene, or a gesture – rather, I would say, it was magic. After a performance was over, I would watch the immediate changes in people, and through the newspapers and other media, I monitored the effects in a broader environment and in the world, because my (spi)rituals were often directed towards concrete phenomena and events, towards improvement of situations brought about by social crises and wars. These (spi)rituals, I would say, were not ”anti-war” in their character in the sense of protests against a war or appeal for peace. Rather, they were aimed at bringing about peace, influencing people in such a way that a necessary balance of opposing charges could be established and aggresiveness eliminated. I made an impact on people’s psyches by establishing a mental resonance between myself and the environment, directly, or by means of natural elements – water, earth, air. Here, the basic precondition was my strong focus on what I wanted to achieve and finding the right form of communication and spiritual radiation. From 1984 to 1999 I staged over sixty different performances and became convinced many times that they had a direct influence both on the spectators’ psyche and on distant events and places in the world. I have collected and kept sizable documentation on these effects.
(Left Image- Spi-ritual 1991) Before each performance I had a period of psychological preparation: putting on paper ideas, concepts, aims, and possible means to be implemented. I defined the concepts important for the performance, worked out the title, the underlying meaning of the message, possible additional meanings and connotations, while all along consulting lexicons of symbols and mythologies, histories of different cultures, etc. All the elements converged towards the main aim and message I wanted to achieve and put forward in the performance. I carried out some of the (spi)rituals by myself, without audiences, in nature or in my own apartment, but with equal concentration and desire to achieve a certain effect. Some of my (spi)rituals lasted longer than just a performance and a day – they lasted for months, day in and day out. They had a form of daily ritual behaviour aimed at achieveing bigger changes, always for the better. My goal was always positive; to help somebody, to eliminate negative emotions, such as agressiveness or hate, and to spread love among all beings; to see them healthy, good, in high spirits and in harmony with themselves and nature. It could be said that the (spi)rituals were a part of my broader artistic activities in those years, but also a continuation of my magic acting through art, dating back to the period of my studies in Prague from 1973 through 1976.
In fact, upon arriving at Prague to study painting, as a twenty-year-old young man, I was for the first time completely separated from the environment in which I had grown up and lived. Also, for the first time existentially independent from my family, I devoted my energies to the in-depth study of my own being, relations among people and events, and especially the powers of nature. In the years preceding my venture into the big world, I had been initiated into the Christian religious tradition and decided to devote myself to the in-depth study of spiritual phenomena, regularly reading biblical stories and studying sacred paintings, particularly Russian icons, but also medieval Western-European religious paintings that I found at the museums in Prague. I visited various churches, monasteries and old cemeteries and read books about cultural traditions of ancient pagan nations, while listening to authentic Africal tribal music from gramophone records. Soon, I spontaneously began to work on drawings which had a magicical character in the sense of protection and curing of the creatures presented in them.(Right Image -"Declaration of Peace", 1991)
I also established a close relationship with plants, nature, weather conditions, and animals, and I communicated intensely with trees. I comprehended the world as a unity and network of living relationships and interconnections, in which love for all was dominant. Much later, at the beginning of the 1990s, after the break-out of the war conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in my own immediate surroundings, I tried to spread positive waves. I initiated an international ”Love Offensive, founded the Institute for the Spreading of Love (towards people, nature, and the arts), and for two years, published a magazine called Love which I distributed worldwide, free of charge. Those were the years when I had both public and closed-circle performances – (spi)rituals in which I exerted influence in the same sense and direction. (Left Image- "Under the oak tree, root of happiness", 1998)
It is in my performances between 1984 and 1999 - in different places all over the world and in varied conditions, on different occasions, prompted by various problems I wanted to solve or at least alleviate through the (spi)rituals – that I perceive the closest ties between arts and life – the goal towards which the avant guard creative artists of my time strived. My performances were also a manifestation of the dematerialization of the art object, characteristic of the second half of the 20th century, when creativity focused on mental and spiritual processes, rather than on physical and visual, that is, sensual ones.
Andrej Tisma, "Love", Cultural Center, Novi Sad,1985
In the "Love" performance Tisma caressed the world: continents, seas, oceans, rivers, mountains and valleys, transmitting his love to the whole world by means of a world map. He used the phrase "I love You" from the Presley's song "Love Me Tender" repeated about 200 times, as the background sound. This performance was done in September 29, 1985 in Novi Sad.
Andrej Tisma, "Declaration Of Peace", Peace Chapel, Sremski Karlovci, 1991
Tisma did this performance in Peace Chapel, a Franciscan church in Sremski Karlovci, when the war in Croatia (then still part of Yugoslavia) was on its peak. In order to invoke peace, in the place where a historical peace treaty between world powers was signed in 1699, he was breaking knifes aimed toward four cardinal points, saying "I declare peace", and lighting candles on their places. In the audience there were numerous Croats, who make a great part of the town's population, Serbs and all other different nations gathered in this prayer for peace.
Andrej Tisma, "Spirit Control", Novi Sad city bus, 1992
In a Novi Sad city bus on May 13, 1992 Andrej Tisma approached passengers posing them three simple questions: what is the first word on their mind, what do they like the best, and what they dislike the most. From those data he made an image of their mind states and continued conversation with each of them. It was a time of war in the very close surrounding, so he wanted to listen to ordinary people, to hear their problems and offer them some good advises. He tried to make them think positively, even in the hard time of the economic and war crises.
Andrej Tisma, "Naked Being", Petrovaradin fortress drawing saloons, 1995.
This was performed with participation of five professional models, which Andrej Tisma didn't know before. They were dressed in erotic clothing,and in the beginning they were walking trough the audience. After they sited comfortably, Andrej Tisma began conversation with them, from the simplest questions about their names, occupations, toward the more and more deep questions about material values, moral, religion, destiny etc. He tried to open their minds in front of the audience, transforming them in the eyes of the viewers from sexual objects into individuals with wise and strong opinions. When they were leaving the room the audience was looking at them differently, with a great respect for their maturity and strong individuality. This transformation of the audience's minds was Tisma's main goal.
Andrej Tisma, "Arrival Of Angels", City Museum, Prijepolje, 1995.
On the eve of the cease-fire in Sarajevo on October 10, 1995, Andrej Tisma asked the audience of his performance to invite angels into the gallery and make together wish for peace in Bosnia. He has put light-blue stickers on everyone telling: "Be an angel".