Redefining the Muse
The idea of the “woman as muse” is a fraught one. Historically denied the right to create, women have often been relegated to the role of the artist’s inspiration, an object of art, but never its creator or its narrative subject. Sisters Flaka Goranci and Mjellma Goranci Firzi challenged this definition of women in relation to art in their joint exhibition and performance held last night, titled Muzë.
Mezzo-soprano Flaka Goranci trained at the Academy of Music in Tirana and the Bucmann Mehta School of Muisc in Tel Aviv, and is also a recipient of the Hilde Zadek Foundation scholarship for young opera singers. She’s performed operatic roles such as Dido, Dorabella, Cherubino, and Rosabella, so she knows all about women as depicted in men’s imagination. Her repertoire for Muzë consisted of carefully chosen pieces that remind the audience of the often overlooked collaboration between male composers and their female counterparts, such as Alma Mahler and Gustav Mahler or Clara Schumann and Robert Schumann, as well as works that celebrate relationships between women and men by Francis Poulenc, George Gershwin and Pirro Cako.
Goranci performed in the foyer of the National Theater, surrounded by paintings created by her sister, Mjellma Goranci Firzi. Apart from painting, Goranci-Firzi has a background in design, scriptwriting, and the pedagogy of art. The paintings in last night’s exhibition were alive with colour and bold shapes, depicting abstract figures of timeless, iconic women as well as dreamy and lush landscapes. The overall feeling of her paintings was of warmth and life, and served as a powerful counterpoint to her sister’s performance.
For more visuals from last night’s exhibition and performance, click here.
For Those In Limbo
The Shivering of the Rose by Dijana Milosevic and Maja Mitic of the DAH Theater in Belgrade incorporates the testimony of family members, primarily women, who still have loved ones missing from the wars of the former Yugoslavia. The play rejects traditional forms of narration, with the character of the Director standing both within and outside of the frame of the stage, acting as both an all-knowing voice of God and a subject of the story.
The story is carried by the Hundred Year Old Woman Who’s Already Seen Everything, a character that is part witch, part wise woman. Before the performance, she carried out sacks with anonymous figures on them from the main stage to the reception area, where the audience was waiting to enter. After each sack had been put in place, she opened the door to the main stage and called out to us in a raspy voice, “Hajde.”
The Old Woman inhabits a white space on stage, surrounded by endless articles of clothing, while the Director cites facts and figures about missing people from conflicts across the world. The Old Woman irons a man’s shirt which is then stuffed and tied to resemble a doll, which she embraces and carries. She calls out “I am still here,” a witness to all those who are neither dead nor alive. The Man Who Is and Is Not makes occasional appearances onstage, and serves as a symbol for every missing person there ever was, roughly dressed, roughly undressed, roughly suffocated by the Old Woman. As she painfully moves arounds the space, she tells us the stories of the disappeared, from Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and further away, while the Director interrupts with interventions in the white space and questions, like “Why do we think that the past won’t be repeated?
The question of redemption for those that are lost seems answered by the end of the performance. The Old Woman and the Director literally wipe the stage clean, wiping away the white space, the clothes, the money, and all the other emblems of suffering away. The Old Woman sheds her heavy clothing and puts on a clean, white dress – this reincarnation of the Old Woman approaches the audience and offers each person present a piece of bread (“for your mother, your sisters, your friends, your friend…”), and recites the names of the missing as she plants green saplings on stage, while The Man Who Is and Is Not plays the violin.
Find out more about DAH theatrical productions here.