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2014-09-20

echoes _ Vava Ştefănescu: ...After all by Zsuzsanna Komjáthy

Tropological substitutions Vava Ştefănescu: …After all
You set yourself quite a task if you try to write about ...After all, the performance of Vava Ştefănescu (concept) and Carmen Coţofană (dance) briefly. If you try (and you know you will), it is quite likely that  you fail before you even write the first sentence. What topics can even be covered so briefly, and in highlights only? The form and the content of the performance, at best. If you are lucky, you can scratch the surface and mention the exciting problems emerging from the external surface of the performance. Or, you can reflect on the depth and the subjectivity of the dance, or on how it questions the borders of identity, or maybe you write about the relationship between the self and the other. 
Alternatively, you can praise to the forceful presence of Coţofană, and comment on her outstanding ability to fully capture our attention. Or, you can write about the persistence of the theatre’s memory, and discover how the evanescence of the movement in time counterpoints and supplements the immovable black letters at the same time. You can explain how pleasure (voluptas) deals with curiosity (curiositas), and how these are represented throughout the life of Ştefănescu.
But stop! Why would you try to articulate your observations about the constitutions of the performance and form them into nicely written sentences, if they wouldn’t even touch the very substance of it? Because, the very core of the performance contains something more essential than the memories and deformations of the personal past of Ştefănescu and the beautifully carried out impressions: the metapositions and perceptions behind the surface all point to self-reflexivity. More precisely, the performance relates to its own body in a constantly questioning way. (As Ştefănescu told us after the show: „It’s about a lost, stucked body”).
There is no space to go into more details of the real meaning of this reflexivity, but how awful the nature of the critics is: we cannot leave this without a word: what do we even mean by metapositions, by constant questioning, and by the body of the performance? -- Carmen Coţofană once said after the show: „It’s like a dialogue with the history and also with the present”. If we analyze this sentence in the mirror of self-reflexivity, we arrive to the exciting substance of ...After all. To be concrete: we arrive at the issue of the autobiography as a dance-form and as a genre theoretical problem. How is it possible to stand on the stage `autobiographically'? Is it possible at all? And if we suppose it is, then what are its rules and possible realisations? These are exciting topics -- investigated by Ştefănescu’s metapositions, when she seemingly performs her own (?) nostalgic memories. Her metapositions reflect on dance as a possible language of art (the body), but meanwhile, they are on the edge of collapsing into themselves.  
But what is this all about, precisely? It is about a mutation of an old question, much discussed in literature theory circles, and now adapted to the stage: is writing an autobiography actually a performative act? -- Even though it has some referentiality, it is basically fiction, defined by the tools of the medium. As Paul de Man points it out in his article: autobiography is actually a special form of understanding, in which „the structure implies differentiation as well as similarity, since both depend on a substitutive exchange that constitutes the subject.” Its essence lies in the specular structure that enables the exchange of subjects and lifts it to a mode of understanding. But let us not go deeper than this, (since who know where that would lead to...)! After all, Ştefănescu uses exactly this mirror as differentation and similarity as her central metaphor! The sections from autobiographical performances projected on the wall (from earlier performances of Ştefănescu) also relate to the author of the performance, together with many memorabilia; clothes, lipsticks, photographs and other accessories that again and again end up in the hands of Coţofană. We should not even venture into how the act of contouring her body on the wall  as a gesture can be connected to the expropriative nature of authority. 
...After all becomes entirely different from the nostalgia of those „pink booklets”, that all these tools are put above banality: they are used as tropological substitutions. It is no wonder that after this we have no chance to determine whom the is performance about; we can not tell who the actual author is. The creators revealed: Coţofană spent long days in the home of Ştefănescu, wandering around, collecting and interpreting memories, and transforming them into her own. But how is this immanence modified, when a third party -- the spectators -- also joins into the work of creation? Where does the meaning escape to? What vanishes, and what stays hidden from us? -- Exciting questions. And Ştefănescu touched exactly upon their core.
Komjáthy Zsuzsanna - KÖM

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