Focus The Library of Our Encounters

Come our voices form a mountain

Interview with Adriana Gheorghe

questions by Margarita Kalyanova

What is performance to you?

Ah, the important and impossible question that I, too, like to ask as a point of reference. It is more things than one, but I will focus on performance as the possibility to transmit and learn a specific kind of mixed knowledge, both experiential and conceptual. You get to sense on your skin and in your bones something pretty immense that takes a bit of time to recognize and it is how you have imagined a big outside event would feel like. It is actually a rewiring of one’s awareness to not treat body and thinking, or human and environment, for that matter, as separate and try to put them in relation, but to try and notice how they already inform each other. And then there is the nice idea of a performative practice – to practice that ‘event’.

How do you use text in performance?

I re-stage the situation of delay in meaning between ideas and their sensible form. They do not coincide at once to give time to experience the event of understanding coming from multiple sources, even counterintuitive ones. And, even more specifically, in performance, text can be both ‘ideas’ and ‘the sensible form of idea’ and whatever text appears in the process (mine or taken) becomes part of a bigger system that could lead to a different meaning than that of the initial text. But in the end, it is a plea for understanding and meaning, as it is for the process of refreshing the abused empty language.

When does your writing enter the printed media?

This is a nice question since there is also the other writing, in time and space. I started as a writer almost twenty years ago, but somehow postponed the total dedication to it. The big detour via performative practices and thinking was necessary for me in order to commit to the page. And there I needed to understand whether to remain inside the medium or work on the very margin of it, of any medium for that matter (and this is another definition of performance that I prefer), thus working also on the very addictive meta-level that one gets to participate in the formulation of things. But I hope to also find ways to rest a bit within a medium or a convention, you know, as humans do :)

Tell us about your project “False Hours” – the concept, the creative process, and how you feel about it.

I would not normally be ok with anything finished. I tend to endlessly reformulate, with the good and bad that comes from this. This is why I research separation (in language and representation) versus performativity (as very close to ecology, beyond dichotomies, self-generating etc.). The performative logic allows me to do that to “False Hours” – it is a score of implicit hidden things that need activation – and invisibly invites the reader to either immerse or not enter at all. Some call it poetry. It also has images, like in the precious ‘books of hours’, carving inner time with the help of some landscape, investing language back with a lot of energy and, last but not least, conjuring the force of something other than myself.
As much as I can be very specific about the method, the little book is also a mystery to me, thankfully. I will only add that it started as a mourning notebook and score for the loss of my friend artist Alina Popa, and then for ongoing losses, and it ended up, in the spirit and style of my brilliant friend, an aesthetic endeavor bridging life, to which she became my partner in crime.

What can you tell us about the performing scene in Romania? Who do you collaborate with?

The scene that I care about is formed by artists that move across fields and mediums and are not easy to pin down although their approach belongs to contemporary dance in its extended sense or to its hybridization with the visual arts. Usually this leads to them choosing or having to create their own frames and institutions, since the existing ones do not know what to do with them for some reason. This is how Theatres appeared. Unfortunately, generally, there is still a precarious understanding of what performance is and could be. A lot of work still needs to be done here. I collaborate with some galleries or other artist-run initiatives and mainly with artists themselves, coming towards me and towards performing from literature, visual arts and dance. I had an intense collaboration with Alina Popa. Presently, I work in close proximity to Andreea David, Silvia Costin, Kira Valentina, Eliza Trefaș, Giles Eldridge, Florin Flueraș, Vasile Leac, Monotremu, Punch a.o. But I have to say that sometimes what keeps me going are also the other than Romanian-based alliances.

And what about your new artistic space Theatres in Bucharest, how is it developing?

I recently celebrated its first year, so it is a baby. It is open to affiliated artists and to many dedicated to artistic processes, with focus on how the proximity of processes could also build some sort of implicit alliances and how art-making could be a form of encountering the others from within the practice, which I would rather have than social dynamics. I aimed high, for the co-existence of differences, different dynamics or needs and it is not easy, and to protect this some principles of functioning are important (such as it is not just a space, it comes with the offer of a dialogue with me or with the artists that are there at the moment a.o.) Artistic ‘commoning’ is not simple but so important, it is my way of being political by method. And sometimes it is ‘us’, and sometimes it is just ‘me’ and then it is ‘us’ again, a constant dance between commitment and openness. Another aim is that by its presence and functioning, as well as by dedicated workshops and events, I try to inform what performance can be, what are its conditions of making and why it could be such a good host for the contemporary sensibility and any other medium as well.

What inspires you the most at Swimming Pool?

I will perform “Come our voices form a mountain”, that is a three hour performance, a kind of another ‘book of hours’ guiding presences to navigate different temporalities, artistic mediums and connections between insides and outsides, there. The space and context of Swimming Pool feels like a concentrated performance in itself. If you sharpen the senses and become available to it – it is a constant powerful multi-layered quite demanding event – and this kind of encounter, if done awaringly, dosing when and on what to focus on and how to get to stay with the ‘event’ and even practice it, well, I am curious myself what it could happen then and what we really encounter.