L’intervista di questo post è con Chiara Bersani, autrice e performer che è stata ospite a Bassano del Grappa per una residenza dove ha potuto presentare una parte del suo nuovo lavoro “tell me more” attraverso il quale esplora l’ancestralità del canto. Come è stato fatto notare anche durante il feedback con il pubblico, dal punto di vista del suono, il lavoro ricorda molto i brani di Ligeti presenti nella colonna sonora di 2001 Odissea nello Spazio di Stanley Kubrick.

l’intervista su due pagine è al seguente link



The following interview is a translation of the one I made for the magazine at Garage Nardini in Bassano del Grappa, where a small part of performer and director Chiara Bersani’s new work  “Tell me more” was staged. The work has been made in residence in Bassano and Bersani has collaborated with octet of male voices Into N° 8 from Coro Vecchio Ponte choir. Co-produced in collaboration with Spain, the performative project examines the ancestry of the sound. After the performance Chiara and the choir met the audience for Question & Answer .
At the beginning  the choir get tuned by deep breathes for long minutes, as to get harmonized with the environment and the audience.

Chiara Bersani : “Yes, definitely.  As a choir they’re used  to perform things that have studied before, “dropped” from the top. Here, instead, they have to do something that they never did before, that they must decide about and wich comes from below. This requires great concentration, so that’s a moment that they really need to get tuned glancing back to each other, because they won’t look until the end, when they will meet again. They really never become different things, they are always in communication, also for charging themselves because the work I ask them afterwards requires an energy that you have to emerge and stir from somewhere, to take them to an explosion . ”

This is a co- production  by CSC Centro per la Scena Contemporanea (Center for Contemporary Art Scene) of Bassano del Grappa and two cultural institutions from Madrid: La Tristura and Teatro Pradillo. You have already worked in Spain, how was it?

“My approach with Spain has been through La Tristura company, already very well integrated into the contemporary scene, that allowed me to propose a very first draft of this work. I worked with a choir from Madrid because there weren’t  money enough to bring the octet there. I find hard to give you an overall picture of Spain, but I can tell you that I noticed a very lively and a great curiosity towards Italy and I was pleasantly surprised of that: I noticed a great interest in aesthetics that thee see in young Italian artists and that perhaps we are a bit unaware of, honestly. They know many of our companies and about all of them they have the common opinion that there is a typical italian aesthetic . Actually I work a lot with images and getting a response like this was a very interesting consideration: someone who tells me that it shows that we have a cultural aptitude for the image. ”

Surely there is a quote from Kubrick, the famous Ligeti’s pieces played in “2001: A Space Odyssey “. Then the octect sings some notes because, as you said during the feedback with the audience, they are very free. Is the reference to  2001 wanted or incidental? It is an influence, since you’re fond of cinema?

“I admit t I hadn’t thought about it, however, I am obviously very pleased of that. About the interest towards details, yes, I know I’m very influenced by film world. Surely, I have a very strong interest towards cinema and photography, which I consider a bit my educational training: it’s what I watched and assimilated most for a large part of my life. A filmmaker has followed all the work during these days and there was just a request from me to be very attentive to details, hand gesture of these people. Obviously, when I have to present it in live dynamic like this one, there’s always the big question about how  this complexity of details will be recepted… ”

Because maybe you think of it for a video fruition but live it’s a different thing.
“That’s correct, that is one of the most interesting challenges . ”

In the press release you wonder what is there previously the first singing. You mean from the point of view of ancestral evolutionary?
“Look , the subject about evolution was born in the last few days: we have noticed that, before adding the movements,  when the boys were in a circle, after a while, they  tended to seek their chord that was really based on very basic and childood harmonic progressions, like a lullaby. So we wondered a lot about the instinctive, animal and ancestral part of music. Then I’ve done a much greater  job with them on our body, present here and now. I was really interested in understanding where the sound physically comes from. I consider this work, “Tell me more” , a kind of arrival: I put this point here and then I’ll start with other things. It’s quite a wall I want to put, a pretty solid tower, a time when I want to say many things and to do that , first of all, I have to learn talking. From here it begins this research for a vocal style that will allow us , when we’ll find it and once found an “alphabet”, to compose our words and our speech . ”

The need to express our own consciousness as humans being is documented by cave paintings, such as the mold of the hands. Unfortunately we don’t have documentation for singing. Have you done research about some kind of hypothesis about a possible evolutionary or historical tracking of singing?

“From this point of view, the things that intrigues me most is, in fact, the connection with the beating of the heart: I didn’t go historically and scientifically back because approaching a choir means to have to do with someone who already has an incredible and very long story, so if I bring another one, it becomes very difficult to start building something. I tried to get with few and clear elements, instead: they are 8 people and before rehearsing they  work  and when they come here they must get to a point in just 2 hours, always, each time. So, at least for now, I didn’t want to increase the load. ”

At a conceptual aspect this is a very structured work.
” It is, and then I needed to add nothing more. But now is the moment in which I feel more ready and free to enter new items and new studies. ”

The singers move within the space of Garage Nardini while singing . How did you structure the relationship between choreography and singing on the level of drama (whenever there is a drama because it is absolutely  a non descriptive work )? 

” Right now I don’t exactly how to answer you , I mean,  there are so many elements that I haven’t put together yet. In this case, the choreographic research was very embryonic : circle, upright posture, free movement , always with some limits that were going to hit the small habits. For example, they are used to close their eyes when they have difficulties: I had limited them to three times, you get close to use a resonator soundbox . We have involved you all in a kind of practice that we have slowly structured during the rehearsals. The dialogue was crucial because I wasn’t interested, at this time, to approach them as an entity that performs something that I give them to do, I really wanted to find our world, get absorbed, go into crisis: each rehearsal lasted just two hours, then get there with really clear ideas, just get to the point I was interested in, and when they went away I had to rework what was there. They have busy lives, they also have another tour as a choir and another tour with a 30 people choir and I also wanted to be sure that they were happy because the proposal  is very special and strong. ”
How long did you planned the show to last?
“No more than 40 minutes. ”

You work abroad and have also worked at the Biennale. Do you think the “spirit” of these cities affects the perception of the public? Visitors  who come to Venice expects a certain thing, in Madrid expect something else.  Is there a kind of “cultural prejudice” toward these great cities of art?
” In Madrid , when I presented a small draft of study , I was ” the Italian one “and then there was this idea that I would have done an aesthetically strong work . Actually I had the choir, I worked a lot on the image, which is another part. At one point the two sides will meet, for the time being they have gone on divided. In Venice I worked as a performer for Rodrigo Garcia and I didn’t see the people because we were hooded so I couldn’t see anyone but their hands, therefore, honestly, I don’t know very well who came. Certainly, in that case, because of an artist who is known for being enough extreme and radical, it was an audience very interested in his work or that was very critical, a non-neutral public. However, I was so tied to the artist that I don’t  feel to say anything about audience in Venice, in general, because I had a very particular and specific experience . ”

video of performance by Rodrigo Garcia in La Biennale di Venezia



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