As part of our new partnership with El Circense, the Spanish language digital magazine, we will be republishing some of their original content, translated into English. This week, we present an in-depth interview with Argentine street performer Mauri Kurcbard!

By Tomi

Mauri Kurcbard. Photo by Mozcografía

Describe your first contact with circus.

I enjoyed the circus like any child, but I was not especially enamored. The shock came when I was living in France from 1989 to 1992. I was first introduced to juggling there by street performers. They taught me that the road to learning juggling wasn’t so hermetic or closed as it used to be. In that moment (1990) I fell in love with juggling and I practised all day long. As the year came to an end, I had learned clubs, balls, diabolo and devilstick.

When I was back in Buenos Aires in 1992 the only guy who was juggling in street was Chacovachi, but this was only to supplement his work as a clown. At this point, I was trying to make a juggling and humor show, as the one that Cotton MacAloon used to. In 1993 I went to a local plaza with a show named “El Circo Moskova Caligari” and then to CC Recoleta. It was very good and that turned my destiny to street humorist.

How the Malabaristas del Apokalipsis were formed?

I met Pablo del Giudicce and Riki Ra in summer of 1993. Both of them had a comedy and juggling duet called “La Organización Rayada” so they didn’t take too much time in meeting us. We shared stage in San Clemente during the summer and after a few meetings we decided to work together. We toured in France and we lived there doing little shows in Paris.

We were four punk kids on bicycles with our clubs in our backpacks as if they were swords. We were like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which is how we found our name: Los Malabaristas del Apokalipsis (The Jugglers of the Apocalypse).

In August 1994 we arrived in Plaza Francia (a neighborhood in Buenos Aires) with a new show, which was an immediate success. We then created a show called Varieté Apokaliptika (Apocalyptic Variety). We also organized the first juggling meeting at Buenos Aires, which would later become the Argentinian Juggling and Circus Convention.

What is ‘Anticirco’?

We wanted to be different from traditional circus and its hermeticism and also different to the new circus and its showiness. Neither were popular in Argentina. We wanted to show a third position so we wrote a manifesto called “El Anticirco” (“Anti-circus”), playing a little bit with a philosophy book that has made a big impact in me called “El Antiedipo” (“Anti-Oedipus”).

So we weren’t alone. With los Malabaristas del Apokalipsis there was other similar groups that shared our vision and our new street language that questioned a way or life that we didn’t shared. That was the seed of Forte Garrizone that came in 1995.

What were your motivations in circus artists then?

I was part of the movement of juggling artists in nineties, the years when Argentina’s economy was failing, the unemployment was growing and the options were closing. We were sons of hyperinflation. The street was then as a strategy for surviving as young people. But we didn’t want to simply work; we were very convinced that we were artists that wanted to emerge and resound everywhere. Sometimes some people told us that we were working as jugglers in the streets because we couldn’t make anything else we denied this emphatically.

I remember we used to fight for the spaces in the squares and we consider this as a social right beyond freedom of speech. We wanted to be recognized as generators of a cultural wealth. We wanted to be defended, stimulated and subsidized.

Which is the street artists role in the world’s cities?

The street artist is a urban host and this concept is related his activity with puppeteers, musicians, actors and every creator that day to day in every city of the world try to make people’s life more happy or more conscious. The artist expands the subjective world of the man and this mission has to be seen as a privilege. When social classes disappear –I haven’t lost my hope in this- and the history of mankind won’t be more than the big scientific events there still is going to be artists criticizing, singing and making things. In the future, the scientifics are going to be the politicians and the national heroes will be the past artists.

What would you recommend to people who want to perform in street?

My first recommendation is getting really into it. This means putting some originality, love for working and using what you know with rhythm and intensity. When you start in this art of expressing things in street you always copy others that you already saw. There are always little fishes copying big artists, or being influenced for them. In Buenos Aires once I had the chance of talking with the Master Cavarozzi (Chacovachi) who told me a perfect summary about the street artist’s metier. A street artist has to work with four organs: the brain, the heart, the balls and the stomach. Beautiful.

What are you working in Mexico?

I’ve been working in Cancún for four years. I’m presenting a circus show in the Riviera Maya, the coast zone from Cancún to Playa del Carmen and Tulum. This is paradise, the sea mixes all kinds of blue that catch you and won’t let you go out. In the show I do a little bit of everything, a very simple diabolo routine and different participatory acts in a “Cirque Du Soleil” theme that turns my stomach a little.

It was easy, I do the same as always, but instead of a leather jacket I wear sequins. I work with people all over the world and this enriches my personal work. Additionally I also give comedy workshops.

I’m also preparing another show in Cancún with more humor and more music, but also more Argentinian and more street style. As if this weren’t too much I want to get back to Buenos Aires with a van and all my family inside, traveling from Mexico to Argentina crossing all over Latin America with my street show in 2011 and 2012. It has to work. I have faith in myself.

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