The new vocal and movement project by the versatile vocalist, performer, choreographer, dancer, singer, improviser and educator Irena Z. Tomažin, is a distinctive site-specific performance inspired by the stories confined within the walls of Cukrarna. The performance Pattern of a Spilled Voice, Traces of Caramel Footprints is a continuation of the artist’s long-standing work with voice or rather with the relationship between body, voice, movement and space.
The title itself takes us back to a part of Cukrarna’s history, to the disastrous event in 1858 when a fatal blaze turned the entire stock of white sugar into brown caramel and literally destroyed the sugar refinery at the height of its operation. The black syrup spilled into the Ljubljanica River, as reported in Novice newspaper on the 1st September: “The whole night and the next day, the Ljubljanica ran black and sweet from the syrup running into it, even though children and women were trying to catch it into pots [...]”. In her creative process, Irena Z. Tomažin immerses herself in various layers of time, in the history of the site in which she creates, reading accounts of the history of the space and the people who inhabited it. This time she read testimonies and poems that vividly reflect the Zeitgeist and the fate of the people, especially the proletariat and the impoverished, which included young poets. She found inspiration for her voice in parts of historical texts, in the testimonies of the ignored and forgotten people who lived in Cukrarna throughout its long and turbulent history, in selected works of fiction, as well as in traditional folk songs that evoke the destinies of the forgotten souls of the bygone era. The industrial past of the building itself became a composition as a spatial trace, a vocal soundscape akin to mechanical noise.
As an outstanding vocalist, Irena Z. Tomažin subtly and complexly embodies and sonifies the overheard voices with various vocal techniques and traditional melodic singing, thus creating multi-layered soundscapes. The artist’s voice moves through layers of associative patterns, condensing or kneading individual fragments of stories into a poetic sonic mass in her mouth cavity. The pattern of the voice is an echo of a time, a fragment of a forgotten history, while the movement of the body is a spatial trace of the embodiment of the voice. The choreography is characterised by repetitive movements – reminiscent of the process of fabric weaving with minute motifs of traditional images; the rhythm of gestures and minute actions create the impression of a repetitive image of the body in motion performing the various tasks of everyday life. The artist’s voice moves between mechanical bodily sound, spoken word and singing, as well as intermediary sounds and noises, in which the past and the present converge. This means the artist establishes the performance space as an associative field within which time expands, condenses and contracts, and is channelled through the corporeality of sound, or through the body as a resonating instrument. The layering of internal soundscapes and echoes of time raises questions about how history is present in the contemporary body, or how the past shapes our present and future. (Mara Anjoli Vujić)
"In my movement, music and sound experimental work, I explore and develop voicescapes that fuse words, fragmented texts, (traditional) melodic singing and extended vocal techniques, including hissing, clicking or sounds created within the mouth cavity that belong not (only) to the voice, but also to the body. Gestures and body movements are the spatial trace of the embodiment of the voice. Dance or spatial choreography is ‘only’ a kind of consequence of this internal principle of the body, which is not visible but audible". (Irena Z. Tomažin)
Author and performer: Irena Z. Tomažin; Sound design: Tomaž Grom; Curator: Mara Anjoli Vujić; Producer: Janja Buzečan; Design: Ajdin Bašić; Photo: Blaž Gutman; Thanks: Lenka Đorojević; Production: Cukrarna Gallery/MGML