Monday, April 16, 2007


Supplement of Altitudini Magazine, issued with the support of the National Dance Centre of Bucharest;
By: Mihaela Michailov

Human wax in an urban domino

¨Please remind it of my address,
should you run into happiness.
Behind poplars on Hope Street a house is rising
Where I’m still hoping, where I’m still waiting.”
(Popular Romanian song sang by the pop artist Corina Chiriac.)

Seemingly, there is no connection whatsoever between Corina Chiriac and photographer Jeff Wall. In Still Lives however, they both bring in a certain type of positioning with mental limbs: a metaphorically - signified positioning – Hope Street and a more focused one - the photo – The Stumbling Block. Humour and ability in Still Lives are bred by the two overlapping typologies of references. I mean, everybody who is stopped on the Bucharest streets and asked to tell of what he sees in the photograph is scanning his own personal history, his own imaginary street or, to the contrary, his very circumscribed street. “Terrorists were said to come. I was there myself, though no one called for me.", says a lady looking at Wall’s photograph, in which people seated to the ground on a crowded street may raise all sort of speculations. Or: “I can see he’s meditating, just the way many people with us are meditating.” It is these speculations that multiply the socio-dynamics of the perception.
You are looking at a photograph that sticks to your retina. And you comment upon it as a biographical excuse. You redraw it each time, keeping the acuteness of the first look on which you overlap present flashes, flashes of your own self. How objectively can you relate to a photograph and how much of yourself or what in yourself do you place on top of it? Where is the limit of passive visualisation and how relevant is detachment? What in you is narrating a photograph that many times is a sort of self-drama? Part of all these interrogations are distilled in a urban performance showing, as type of concept integrating the surrounding world, the impetus of performances conceived by director Kaegi, one of the most brilliant creators of contemporary performing maps; of characters rebuilding their own local biography through a humanised story. Keagi’s performances which, as also the case of Still Lives, do not including actors follow routes in time and space and reflect areas of interference in continuous defixation. How can one interpret the mentality of people in a given areal, confronting them with a catalyst-image to their need to express verbalization, growing into the most interesting aspect of Still Lives. Precisely since iconical commentary becomes synonymous to self-expression. It is from this point of view that I find most interesting the proposal that Still Lives puts forward - walking out into the centre of the performance society – the city and confront the civic perception of people in a certain place with the civic perception of people in a different place; daring them to integrate themselves into the image and, at the same time, to clearly keep in mind the referential landmark. To come to the point, there’s where you can get through the photograph body. The observations of the ones invited to make a comment vary from most hilarious interpretations to thorough analysis applied on all social and even artistic implications of the photograph. Just as the ones on stage, the ones commenting upon the image turn into both professionals and non-professionals. The greatest quality of the stage performance is that you can’t see the difference, that due to the powerful authenticity and to the pointy urban-topical impact, the result is a perfectly unitary bodly combine. Every day’s audience, people on the street who are asked to analyse Jeff Wall’s photograph, grow themselves into urban discourse makers. Still Lives argues for the clever way to interpose different body languages, without altering their particular identity.
Still life is a representation of inanimate objects in painting. Extrapolating to photography and performance stylistics, it may represent freezing in a frame, escaping from the motive disarray of a static image. From inanimate to animate, the bodies reshape a real and imaginary topography.
The stillness, freezing concept, including statuaries freezing like wax figures that bit by bit turn to natural movement, is closely counterplotted.
The everyday or commonplace, is the most basic and the richest artistic category. Although it seems familiar, it is always surprising and new. But at the same time, there is an openness that permits people to recognise what is there in the picture, because they have already seen something like it somewhere. So the everyday is a space in which meanings accumulate. The everyday space that Jeff Wall speaks about gathers various categories of images that are, to a higher extent, impossible to dissociate.
Still Lives is exploring a beehive of bodies in a motional transition. Beehives of human bodies hectically swarming and that suddenly freeze into shop-window mannequins.


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