In line for catharsis
by Roxana Gramada
If anything, you should stop and listen. Or, more like it, let yourself absorb line after line of distilled messaging on your current life setup. You live, you buy, you want to change, you try, you love, it’s over. Don’t take it too seriously, though, we’re all ridiculous. Here’s a one hour shortcut. You may not remember it, maybe just flashes. It will be intense. Let’s elaborate.
Years ago, musician Cristian Fierbințeanu saw Woody Allen, whom he’s otherwise “crazy about,” ranting about the meaninglessness of believing in God nowadays and “in the great scheme of things.” (I am yet to locate the interview.) Although certain Woody Allen wouldn’t give his pocket change on it, he decided he had something to say about it. An idea of a show was born.
It was further fuelled by his own and friends’ mixture of spleen and amusement over the immensity of the universe. The world we thought was large turns out to be a fraction of the actual thing. “70 million times larger than Craiova and the whole of Vaslui” is large by our standards, but so small compared to the incommensurate size of it. We are so small. And that, to Fierbințeanu, is ridiculous. Sprinkle some Kanye West key lyrics, and you get the vibe.
So what do you do when all is large and overwhelming? An option is to look for patterns and strip it to the essence. You get to Saturday Night Live where Jason Silva meets Monty Python and a brunette Amanda Lear. And Fidel Castro’s slightly overweight, brainy cousin, who’s into singing. It’s cool.
Fierbințeanu pours his galactic spleen into punch-in-the-gut videos. Crowds go nowhere, petrol coloured burgers and abstract mannequins flash on the screen. One Terry Gilliamesque visual after the next, one robotic mantra recital after another, I catch myself recalling the classic Life of Brian scene with Graham Chapman preaching mind liberation to a lip-synching crowd. It’s all a huge advertisement to thinking.
The couple’s reenactment of our empty chase for self-improvement is funny and bitter, and oh, so to the point. Enter any self improvement book department and two ideas play out: one, that you can do anything. Anything is possible. The other, that you should accept who you are. The limits. The cage. When all that is explored and done with with humour and music and movement, we’re left in a place of love. “Let’s build a better future like never before,” says their last song as the artists’ eyes meet in real connection.
“I think overall I really appreciated the clowning aspect to it next to serious topics and concepts, because I think through humour, we as humanity might be able to help each other a little bit more. I like how they acknowledged that they were ridiculous, we’re ridiculous in what we do sometimes.
I had just encountered a protest in the street earlier across town, the bus that I came to get here was closed, so I was running from train to tram to bus to contemplating getting a taxi, running, going, going, going, and then I came here and they started talking about all of it, there were projections of people running, collapsing into each other. Sometimes we find ourselves just running, not thinking we know where we’re going or what goals we’re trying to accomplish. In the end we’re just running,” says traveling dancer Julia Grace, who learned about the dance centre after coming to another show a month ago.
“First of all, I think it’s innovative, and also a protest to what happens outside and within. I think it’s an expression of our searches for meaning as humans. For instance, the idea to exceed our condition, to look for what lies beyond immediate materiality,” says Augustin, who came to see the show for a second time.
After the performance, the Fierbințeanus finish each other sentences, as they did for about an hour on stage, this time about plans for the future, the public, and their life together. They also thank CNDB for choosing them to complete the season. The Great scheme of things is first of all a music album, now in final stages. There will also be a video production attached, maybe an installation. Working on the show in the season made them invest their movements with meaning. They sound grateful.
“-I was singing,” “-and I wasn’t. I showed up in his life, and then he in mine.””-We did a song together in 2001, it’s called “I have nothing to complain about”. We’ve been singing together since.” „[Before I sang]… as all people do, at home. But I never had an issue about it. When you do a singing line, you’re very happy.” „-We search for happiness, that’s not a joke,” adds Cristian Fierbințeanu, leaning into a make believe mike. It seemed like he had just found another line for the show.
„It is now beginning to matter if the things we choose for our show also mean something for others, if people resonate to or relate to them, if we can meet them and if our meeting is meaningful. Especially if it’s intense. That is what we actually want, an intense moment. I was born, I live on this round ball or whatever you call Earth and once or twice, I had a special, intense moment, when I met this thing called Fierbințeanu.”
*Text written with the occasion of the Contemporary dance season CNDB - Bucharest in movement, 2017.
The Contemporary dance season CNDB - Bucharest in movement, 2017 cultural project is supported within the cultural program Bucharest participatory city, by the Bucharest Mayor's Office through the Bucharest Cultural Centre ARCUB.