As a performer, video maker and production collaborator from Cardiff, I have been working with Argentina's best kept secret, composer Oscar Edelstein (who is seen as Latin America's own Stockhausen by many people for the far fetching sweep of his musical universe) since 2003 when I gained a Wales Arts International travel grant called "Go and See." At that point being based in West Wales I travelled with fellow visual artist Angharad Taris to meet with our host, the Argentinean experimental choreographer, Siliva Pritz. The trip allowed us to visit Patagonia with all the obvious emotions of discovering your mother tongue being spoken 11,000 miles from home.
Whilst I speak only fragmented Welsh, there was something in this triangle between Welsh, English and Spanish that continued to inspire me to make further trips up until the point that I am now pretty much bi-lingual English - Spanish.
For those who know little of contemporary culture in Latin America, Edelstein is a composer with a well developed history as an artist, and an incredible ability to provoke and crystallise in equal measure. What's more - he has all the added flare needed to survive in the volatile artistic and political climate of Argentina and Latin America.
This distinguished career, in brief, lead Edelstein to being in 1992 the youngest artist to win Argentina's prestigious award of the Antorchas' Scholarship for Outstanding Artists of the Intermediate Generation (which he used to compose his opera El Telescopio), and then to more recently in 2011 the Fondo Nacional de las Artes presented him with the Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.
My collaboration with Oscar Edelstein - beginning in 2003 - has led to an exploration of vocal work that has become part of the recent concerts of one of Edelstein's projects, that of his own ensemble, the Ensamble Nacional del Sur.
I am honoured to have received critic that have compared the vocals to pinnacles of contemporary music and jazz, namely Cathy Berberian (the soprano who famously worked with the Italian composer Luciano Berio), and the free jazz vocalist Lauren Newton (known as a founding member of the Vienna Art Orchestra).
The comparisons were fascinating because my references points for the vocals that are in the live concerts and the recent disc of the ensemble, (ENS for short) were different and neither of the comparisons were sources known to me.
My line of work is far more orientated in the lines created by Grotowski that I had the chance to explore in depth after my graduation when I had the opportunity to work with Theatre Alibi in a project that took us for two weeks training in Poland with "Gardzienice" Theatre Association (founded in 1977 by Włodzimierz Staniewski). Their intensity and dedication to practice, studio work, training and exploration is second to none and no doubt marked my ear, breath and body.
Thus my vocal work emerges more from theatrical practice than from lyrical or jazz traditions. I am searching for lines as if walking a tight rope blind folded yet convinced of the rope that spans one side to another. It comes from a complete trust and intuition in the power of, and the need to communicate.
It is hard to capture the intensity of a concert of the ensemble that runs for just over an hour without pause and with changes of dynamics that are for the audience mesmerising.
This recent video of a sound check goes a long way to give the essence and it gives a snap shot of the wonderful duo I share with saxophonist Martín Proscia who is a composer and a researcher studying multi-phonics in the saxophone, alongside running his own ensemble.Video whilst now easy to share high quality images still lacks high quality sound - so this sharing is a translation that requires intelligence and sensitivity for the viewer. What cannot be heard has to be imagined and for this reason, as an artist keen to create new spaces for cultural experience, I have begun to use the format of posts to form a back up. In this line I discovered some writing around 2003 which in many ways anticipates the work I am now making in collaboration with Oscar Edelstein.
This search for bridges still intrigues and motivates me. I hope to continue to be able to extend the span and reach of this work with much respect, humility and gratitude for my many teachers.
"I look for something soft, natural, unexplained – somewhere between stillness and silence, motion and memory. I search from the “don’t know” space that is filled with echoes, reflections, and glimpses of children’s games. From the archaic English term, wright, I feel like a wheelwright, a cartwright - only my ears, eyes and hands are trained to shape and craft play. I fish in the land of paradox to catch edges, moments unseen, and words un-whisphered; to mix vulnerability with skill, and to keep things as raw and fresh as possible. I want my intuitive leaps to lead to something timeless and hypnotic– creating a space to pause and re-figure. If I could fill a bottle with anything it would be with light, more than one P.O.V., Beckett, Brecht and a little Shakespeare."
(Deborah Claire Procter - Artist's Statement 2003)
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