26 January 2009. Pathosformel received the special prize UBU 2008 with the following award : “young company aiming at an abstract and physical theatre to be pursued with an already distinct and layered sign, by which the research on material and form is the starting point to evoke a fragmented and deconstructed visionary theatricality of great charm, which exploded in the national and international scene, achieving a significant relationship between conceptual art and theatre.”
They have been staging for more than four years and their innovative style revolutionized and turned upside down contemporary theatrical scenes that needed continuous lifeblood, when the Made in Italy was enormously flourishing. And this is possible thanks to such companies, as Pathosformel, that aren’t intimidated by experimentation and comparison, in a multimedia society which is always growing and nevertheless watching attentively and giving critiques on those works masked by dramatic techniques. Daniel, Francesca and Paola create woolly works of art appearing on a stage or in a room, where the scene and the audience, the artist and the user, breathe together, where the eye comes into drama and the sound comes into opera.
There is nothing to envy in the theatrical projects by Aleksej Krucenik or by Malevic, when the timidity of the bones uncovers bit by bit, and shows scenic and physical abilities, accepting personal imagination, suspended trainings, tuning and “dancing algebraic equations”. A relaxation we tend to love through the white colour, when the absence of the body is that little bit extra and where we can watch a sort of natural birth; a cautious performance, a palpable acrobatics, an impudent delicacy. An elegance that elbows and suddenly disappears as long as wax is melting, being this material pure and ephemeral, malleable and spiritually erotic. The mise en scène is not much traditional or at least it disperses alternations, still tasting the typical materiality of a Joseph Beuys or a Marina Abramovic. We are in front of a new theatrical aesthetics, a new poetics that embraces sculpture and sound, performance and choreography, cosmopolitan scenography of the invention.
If the main element in a drama is the audience, in Pathosformel the quibus is characterized by the potential unconscious ability to bring together a generation of users, from the most oddly assorted cultural and social corners of our country, as well as of Europe . That’s an important centre for thousands of fans and experts who feel the call from the Venetian collective, who “peregrinate” all around Italy and fill up Festivals e theatres sometimes acting as fans of singers crowding the stadium.
A work was presented at the Alboreto Dwelling Mondaino Theatre in Summer 2008 who “took off” among the other cities in Dro and in Brussels : “The shortest distance” is the last effort represented as work in progress . New materials and visions, live music plunges us into a bar at the Folies-Berg, but we can still decipher free will and subjectivity, or simply dream gasping behind the passing of suspended squares. “Each of these squares on the lines now corresponds to a sung note, as signs of a Gregorian score that can be continuously modified. Everything we hear is manifested by the sliding presence of forms on the lines. Everything we see is accompanied by its corresponding voice. There is an evident, even ambiguous synchrony between song and image. Does the movement of this ever-changing music generate the melody or is it the song driving these geometric inhabitants? Is it the behaviour of the forms that gives birth to liturgy, or is it the interweaving of voices imposing choreography to this dance opera without stature? (Pathosformel)
On 19 th April the Pathosformel will be present at the Palladium Theatre in Rome. In May they will take part in two events, that is the Egg Festival in Milan and Another Theatre 2009 in Forlì. Meanwhile, I tried to investigate on some issues related to the training, the project phase and the artistic creation of this new collective through a short interview.
Massimo Schiavoni: Who were Daniel Blang Gubbay, Francesca and Paola Villani Bucciero? Who are they now?
Pathosformel. Daniel Blangé Gubbay, Francesca and Paola Villani Bucciero were three students at the University of Venice IUAV that associated at the end of 2004 to build a work project called pathosformel, that could investigate through works the limit between theatre and performance. We come from different cities (Milan, Bologna and Parma ) and from different experiences that range from a rather more theoretical mark, and a more developed dramatic practice, to more technical experiences..
We shared all our specificities, and we knew we wanted to work together without any other preconceived idea about drama or any other clear poetic reference. We always had to build a new strategy of work, to understand the techniques and to compare with any other possible language. At every time we need to have a confrontation with a new material that can be represented.
Now we are people who share a passion for this work and who try to make it a consolidated activity. We work together but at the same time we do other things, because we need it and because we are interested in it. Our differences and specificities are still there; they are probably the most important aspects that can enrich a project and that give different contributions to every new work.
Massimo Schiavoni: But what I’d like to know is: did you look around? and what did you see before creating this project? Was it already inside your minds or did it generate from other needs, from other interests in progress.
Pathosformel: The meeting was born from our compatibility, apart from a common vision on the type of work that we wanted to conduct. Surely we looked around, and we studied many things together as we needed and we still need to see as much as possible, we believe it happens to most people who face an artistic creation. We trained together at the university and we discussed about everything we found around us, even non-theatrical matters.
Meanwhile we deeply wanted to “do something”, but it was not too much clear yet; life circumstances in Venice and our own interests determined our way to begin work and this influenced work, as well.
Massimo Schiavoni: “La timidezza delle ossa”, could you tell me why it was born and how? And does it reflect, according to you, the beginning of an alternative process or at least an original process inside contemporary drama.
Pathosformel:“The timidity of the bones” comes from a theoretical reflection : there are many of us who think about performance and live show as immediate arts, or the absence of any material medium as can be the canvas for painting or the film for the cinema between the observer’s eye and the actor’s body. The idea was to reflect on the one hand this immediacy, deny expectations for the body’s visibility on stage. We thought its presence before the public was no longer the basic element from which we could build the rest, but the heart that must be called into question.
At the same time this is bound to a theoretical approach linked to defiguration, to those artistic techniques that sketch the shape , that put signs, that give it a new power going beyond the entirety of the shape itself: the shape will be completed by each observer in a different way and it is as if it already possesses in itself the power to become all these forms. The idea of the show was to cover the body, not to hide it, but to let it emerge in a new form every time and to let the observer rebuild it in an anatomical or imaginative way. The project in this sense is for us the beginning of a process of delegation or extreme confidence in the observer’s imagination. This is simply to give clues that can be taken for what they are or completed within a kind of narration.
If in “La timidezza delle ossa” we offered a “dotted body” to be ideally completed and rebuilt in its entirety, later in “The smallest distance” we have built a geometric-musical system from which the audience could find their own abstract or narrative intimate structure. They are squares flowing in two directions, still for us they represent exactly this delegating instrument that maybe allows each spectator to find, in the loneliness or in the shapes’ crossings, a different life or a total musical abstraction in which he is allowed to lose himself.
Massimo Schiavoni: What is the meaning of the body in ” Volta “? What role does the metamorphoses have here?
Pathosformel: ” Volta ” was born at the same time than “La timidezza delle ossa “, always within our reflection on the relationship between body image and support of the representation. If in “The timidity of the bones” the canvas was the – almost classical – support that allow the presentation of the body image, here we chose to take the problem further.
Space is completely dark, and the bodies are completely covered in black therefore invisible – or only visible on the limbs covered in a layer of white wax. The game is ambiguous: on a side, wax is the support that makes the body visible, on the other side the body itself is a support for the wax. They are bodies of wax, forcedly temporary and fragile, that blend and separate while creating human figures not always recognizable.
Metamorphosis is inevitable in this work: there is one voluntary component, and one typical of the material. Wax is an organic material, and of course it starts immediately to melt and crackle progressively diminishing the body’s visibility. It is a disappearance by fragments; in the end we find scales on the ground, like a constellation born from the body’s evaporation.
Massimo Schiavoni: You’ve been chosen for the first part of the “Fies Factory One” project, together with four other young artistic realities like Sonia Brunelli, Teodora Castellucci, Francesca Grilli e Teatro Sotterraneo. How do you live this, and what benefits were taken by this creative experience in close contact with different ways of working and other stylistic codes in the Dro residence?
Pathosformel: Fies Factory One surely represents an opportunity and a support like we couldn’t imagine before. First of all, it gave us a three-years funding not related to a single project, which allowed us to plan more completely the times at our disposal for a production: it allows us to develop a project in an articulate way, and to take time to research the next project.
Furthermore, the relationships with the other selected artists was for us especially interesting. Beginning with evident analogies and differences (some of us come from theatre, some from dance or visual arts, and at the same time none of us can be listed in only one definition), the confrontation during the common residence times and the rare but very important collaborations – i.e. during the event in October 2008 for the firts anniversary of the Factory – have made our work richer with a vision that we would otherwise hardly find.
Massimo Schiavoni: Your works stand out in the artistic panorama also for their personal and original scenic presence, and for the use of innovative technical and spatial solutions. How did the creative passage go from the previous works to “La più piccola distanza”, and why now a sort of “bodiless concert” suggests more than squares in motion?
Pathosformel: The passage towards “La più piccola distabza” has been for us quite immediate: we wanted to continue in the sign of the previous research, while distancing from the kind of image that we had represented in our early works. We wanted to continue creating a system that played with the imagination of the audience, that allowed them to complete in infinite manners a system of abstract signs loaded with a human imprint.
In case of this work, though, we were not interested in working on an anatomic reconstruction of the body, but more on a study on movement that could be translated into the intentions and relations behind human movements. For this reason, we worked on the idea of a staff in movement, a system of signs in which every element moves following its own speed, and through these springs and stops, enters in some kind of relationship with the nearby shapes.
The “Concerto per harmonium e città ” was born from this research and as a result of this first performance. We still needed to investigate the relationship between music and behavioural geometries, and in this case we chose to relate music reading to an actual geographical map of an ideal city. A cartography in movement, that is played live while it forms and dissolves: it is as if every urban path traced on the map a line, and at the same time was accompanied by a note that – together with the hundreds of paths that we cross everyday – creates music.
Choosing a geographical map was for us very meaningful, almost a manifesto, because in it we found that hybrid system, in balance between abstract sign and allusion to the real world, that we had been constantly looking for.