Artists with OI: Erwin Aljukic
Erwin Aljukic is an actor, dancer, speaker and fashion journalist. Since 1998 he can be seen on TV, in the cinema and at the theater. In addition to acting, he studied fashion journalism and has been working as a freelancer ever since. In 2014 he devoted himself to contemporary dance. Aljukic has been a permanent member of the Münchener Kammerspiele since 2020.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am, you can say, one of Germany’s most well known professional actors with a disability, working since 25 years continuously as an actor (TV, cinema, theater), dancer, voice artist and model.
A very important part of my work, since the very beginning of my career, has always been the work as ambassador for various organisations and/or as protagonist in numerous campaigns. I strive towards more equality of people with a disability, the LGBT- community but also immigrants, all aspects that do cover my own personality, as well.
In what way has OI affected your art?
OI specifically has never been a topic in one of my works but my special physical situation with its very own possibilities and limitations do of course influence what kind of roles, stories I am offered and playing. In some movies, TV-shows, theatre pieces or dance performances the disability is in fact a topic. In others it’s not.
When we’re talking about OI, it is more a very personal estimation of how far I can go or where and when I have to be careful. Even if things do look very dangerous or spectacular from the outside, this is no problem for me as long as I have the control. This includes control over whatever is happening right now on stage and in that moment. That means that with my colleagues I have to make very concrete arrangements. If I notice that my partner on stage has no good body awareness or if one part of the show or the rehearsal things are not clear, I don’t go further.
What projects are you currently working on?
The current piece is about care, called “WHO CARES?”. I noticed very quickly how useful all my hospital experiences were and what it means to be dependent in certain situations. We OI’ers know how it is when from one moment to the other things change from being possible to not being possible anymore. Suddenly you depend on somebody. I saw how difficult it was for my non-disabled colleagues to really go into these situations.
Why do you do what you do?
In my work as an artist, I do see a way to bring in all my experiences – the good but also the bad ones. Personally, I am convinced that a good artist always sees himself/herself as a source – otherwise what you see on stage stays empty and superficial.
OI and all my other experiences forced me to confront myself with many topics in life – to cope with them and to overcome them. I am sure that this way I can be a role model for some persons. The true satisfaction in whatever you do MUST be something that is bigger than life….
What themes do you pursue?
As I mentioned before, this can be topics which are related to me and my personality but even much more exciting it is to be confronted with topics which are absolutely new to me. This lets me grow professionally but also personally.
What’s your scariest experience related to your work?
As I mentioned before, I feel very scared if I lose control on stage. This happened to me several times in the dance piece EVERY BODY ELECTRIC by Austrian choreographer Doris Uhlich we were playing all over the world. In that piece there is an 8 minutes solo with techno beats which starts very, very slowly and gets faster and faster until I get into a kind of trance and a completely physical climax.
Several times I was so much in the situation that I literally forgot to breathe. In one moment I had the feeling that my heart stopped to beat. Literally I wouldn’t be able to shout for help and it felt like I would die on stage! I completely lost control over what I was doing. These were really traumatic experiences and each time I am scared of that solo.
What role does the artist have in society?
It’s what I mentioned before in a way. I personally don’t find it that interesting just to entertain an audience. But it makes me happy and satisfied if what I am doing, can lead people to think about certain things. With these new impulses they will hopefully change their lives and question things.
What is your dream project?
I am a very big fan of director Lars von Trier. In his movies he’s questioning human behaviour. Actors like Nicole Kidman or Björk stated that they reached their limits in their professional lives. Maybe to understand my wish better; for 13 years I was playing in one of Germany’s most famous daily soaps. The stories were all about normal, daily life. Now for 7 years I have the very big fortune to be part of pieces and projects where I can discover much more about me and the world I am living in. This is each time a very satisfying journey…
Do you have any messages for readers of OIFE Magazine or for OIFE?
I noticed very often how strong and courageous many OI’ers are. This is indeed a phenomenon among many other “disabled groups” as well. But when I see how much the LGBT-community has managed to change over the years when it comes to more equality in many fields, this is something we should learn from. Too often due to the lack of opportunities we’re too passive or too thankful as soon as we get a chance. But we forget how much we invest ourselves. I wish that we get much more self-confident. Don’t wait until others offer a chance to us! But fight actively for your rights – full of pride, courage, and joy!