Opera of frozen life
Requiem, libretto, Video, installation
presented at Semi-Gloss, Cincinnati
“Opera of frozen life” or making poetry a gesture of linguistic noise.
Concrete poetry and deliberate formalist attempts to rupture realism are my entrance point to noise. I am attracted by noises, mumbles, Glossolalia, yearnings, sighs; devoid linguistic expressions filled with content.
In 2009 I was invited (in the context of the project Colector) to produce an project for a mortuary chapel in Porto, Portugal. The chapel is decorated with neo-baroque motives and frescos full of iconographic motives of music instruments and weaponry. The dome of the chapel has a fresco of musicians sitting on clouds, “playing in favor” of the admission of souls in heaven. It is truly, ichnographically, a Requiem.
The idea of mourning taints positively many of my projects. I am fascinated by the function of the mourning, and how it that process evaluates and marks the loss and the existence. There is a passage from Simone Weil vaguely embedded in my flesh. It goes something like this “To desire an existence that is not anymore is absolutely pure… the love we dedicate to the dead is perfectly pure. Because it is the desire for a finished life that nothing new can provide. We desire the dead existed, and they did.” (Simone Weil “La pesanteur et la grâce”).
From this conjuncture I decided to write a Requiem. This requiem would talk about thy mourning and its increasing loss of function in a society that lingers in a peter pan syndrome and makes of death a complex absurd taboo.
"Opera of frozen life" uses association of classical Greek mythology iconography to produce a text (libretto) that exposes the melodramatic tension of the loss of mourning.
Eolos (king of winds) talks to the four winds about the "loss track" of their
purposes. In order to stress it, he evokes the murder of Jacinth, Apollo’s lover, by one of the jealous resenting winds (Zephyr). This starts a conflict between the winds that point each other of responsible for such crime. Zephyr confesses it bluntly, unemotionally at beginning, in increasing grief for not being loved and for his destructive rage.
Eolos and the Chorus sack this collective pathos, advising the winds to reappraise the relation with their purpose of spreading change and carrying vigor.
I didn't want to translate the Portuguese text for English in order to stress the enactment of different idioms. The fact that none of the actors knows Portuguese underscores the performance of a form unaware of its subtract. The libretto (Requiem text) survives formally but the actor’s linguistic function is damaged.
The aspect that interests me is that of when dealing with languages one can’t decode, it doesn’t stop its experience. At some point clinging with (perhaps not verbal meaning) anticipation, expression, sentimentalism and so on can occur. The actors (being English speakers) are enacting a linguistic deployment, but for those who can understand the Portuguese, there is a chance to reconstitute meaning. This is a arduous task because the form of the idiom is damaged by the (mis)interpretation of its form . This passage between interpreters, receivers and re-interpreters is fascinating and marks the cause why this work came to life.