Shockwave, no peace. A drum produces an electronic thud, followed by a distorted echo.
On and off, a new sense of combinations is ignited. Words and phrases bind together like a great genealogical chain, telling stories that have never been told.
In the 7th century, Isidore of Seville was about to catalogue the first encyclopaedia of the Western world and, at that time, this endless list of words must have been a symbol representing a glimmer of absolute faith in human potential. Anne-James Chaton and Alva Noto evocatively express how, in the contemporary world, any possibility of understanding what was previously regarded as the simulacrum of knowledge has disappeared. And they do so by means of a procedure aimed at capturing, through visual flows of words and sounds, the audience in a new auditory dimension that involves the other senses in the practice of listening.
In a dialogic opening, each word increases itself according to the previous and following ones, and the spectators find themselves as if continually shifted into the position of readers and listeners, inside a hypnotic vortex in which sounds and meanings operate mechanically producing something else: perturbing precisely because at the same time familiar and unknown.
Thus the penne de porc is associated with la peine de mort, and certain pairs of words – père et mère and seul al mond – or assonances – such as soi toi meme and soin de soi – reconstruct the story of an existence that belongs to everyone but is only open to those who are capable of looking deeper, searching for a meaning beyond the retinal, to unearth the most intimate part: the etymon.
Texts and videos narrating each show are the outcome of an active relationship which has been established with the spectators, in search of the identity of the “emancipated spectator”. The students of the Academy who created the project built a relationship with some of the spectators chosen from those present at the events, using post and email. They later created a translation of the show which took the form of words and images suggested by the spectators.
Who is the “emancipated spectator”?
According to Jacques Rancière, you are. It is us who, with “stories and performances, can help change something in the world we live in”. Text and videos of this article were realised on occasion of Alphabet by Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton at Auditorium Parco della Musica on November 21st 2021, within Romaeuropa Festival and as part of AUDIENCE ON STAGE, fourth edition of BACKSTAGE / ONSTAGE ‘, a multimedia editorial project realised in a partnership between the Rome Fine Art Academy, Romaeuropa Festival and Arshake.
For the 2021 edition, BACKSTAGE / ONSTAGE, has moved its focus to concentrate on the spectators of the Romaeuropa Festival, their behaviour and way of relating to the performances, their interest and the effect that this produces. The survey was carried out transversally, covering the different performance genres at the festival, from dance to drama and music. AUDIENCE ON STAGE examined the entrances, lobbies and corridors of theatres, stalls, boxes, mobile phones and online event screens, searching for the gaze of the so-called emancipated spectator, i.e. he or she who finds a new kind of contact and closeness with others in the theatre, but also discovers a new connection with their own active existence.
Backstage / Onstage: the project is realised with a partnership between the Rome Fine Arts Academy, Romaeuropa Festival and Arshake
Credits 2021- AUDIENCE ON STAGE: Video: Walter Maiorino, Eleonora Mattozzi, Alessia Muti, Francesca Paganelli; Eleonora Scarponi. Testi: Chiara Amici, Domiziana Febbi, Alessandra Gabriele, Martina Macchia, Alessia Mutti.