Alida, Eliot, Taufer and words in between, Miniteater, Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia, 2008

Alida, T.S. Eliot, Taufer and words in between” is my experimental photo portrait documentation project of my friend’s, the Slovene theater actress Alida Bevk’s  final MA project presented in the form of an installation. When making this project, my main focus remained on atmosphere. Atmosphere, because I feel that it is atmosphere which is one of the most important elements in poetry, especially in the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Taufer. Their poetry was the topic of Alida’s performance part of her MA project. She performed a monolog composition consisting of a synthesis of poetry of both of these two poets. Since her intention and manner of synthesis of these two very different poets (T.S. Eliot was English born and lived in the 19th century, while Taufer is Slovene born and lives a century later) was fore mostly on the vocalization and articulation of the poems. I tried to focus on the sound which surrounded me when observing Alida in preparation for her performance. That is, my attention was focused on the rhythm, pitch, tone and manner of speech of Alida through her monolog. In the same way that Alida focused on the text of the two poets, I focused on Alida’s articulation of them, trying to visualize the atmosphere which resulted as a product of  Alida’s particular articulation of them.

            Since the text so to say focused on bringing together two different individuals, so to say pairs of opposites (T. S. Eliot and Taufer), my aim was to first and foremost expose, expose this notion of opposites whereupon I then attempted merging these pairs of opposites, as Alida’s aim was to merge these two very different poets and their poetry through means of particular vocalization of their poems. And truly, I have to say that when listening to her, it was impossible to differentiate between which part of her text belonged to which poet. It was not words which came to the foremost attention but the rhythm, and melody of them, produced through Alida’s particular articulation of particular syllables ect, creating a merging of the two that was very kind to the ear. Instead of pointing the viewer’s attention to the particular words, Alida was able to move her viewers beyond and into the atmosphere produced by the joint working of the poems. My aim was the same. Instead of focusing on a single and particular portrait, I wanted to rather visualize the particular atmosphere that Alida created through her so to say auditory vocabulary. Therefore I created a roundabout installation which served as a portrait of Alida, visualizing different rhythm through different combination of photographs, and even more importantly, different combinations techniques in photography, with particular focus on black and white’s relation to color. Since for me the poems of Taufer represent a completely different reality then those of T. S. Eliot, I thus chose to also utilize black and white vs. color and then progress to  the level where (from the visual perspective) both intermix in response to the intermixture and overlapping of both poets achieved by Alida's vocalization of them. For me, black and white represented the everyday reality filled with its many emotions and all that connected closely with it, whereas the black and white represents a more of a distant, less emotional, less realistic reality, appearing especially at the points where Alida vocalized the less life reflecting, emotionally filled parts of poems, be this the poems of T. S. Eliot, or Taufer. The significance of who and what is lost ….shifting rather to vocalization of them. When viewed from this aspect particular separate words accompanied with their particular meanings loose significance, and instead become subordinate to the means of their particular vocalization, becoming endowed or better said reconnected with their more early means, more primal means of affecting through the particular auditory connotation contained in the words, when attention is focused on this aspect of them.

Since Alida was the so to say mediator, connector of the two very different bodies of work by the two very different poets, my focus was on her and her means of xpression of the work of T.S. Eliot as well as Taufer. Following Alida and taking part in many of her classes I was able to get a good feeling for the acting academy. Alida wanted me to take the photographs in the space of the academy, and during her rehearsals rather then her actual performance.

Alida was more focused on erasing borders between poets and their works, and I was focused on the same. Thus, I relied greatly upon the technique of double exposure. I relied on this technique because I feel it was the most appropriate one for generating the tension that was apparent and present in Alida’s monologue which consisted of the over lapping of T.S. Eliot and Taufer. Also, in this technique I literally worked with overlapping, which goes hand in hand with what Alida worked with, only that I applied this technique in the visual world whereas she applied it in the auditory world.  And just like words create different amplitudes and generate different levels of feeling, so do, or even more so do their often suppressed sounds! 

Last but not least, this project was in particularly inspiring for me, since I was challenged to work with both the written word as well as the visual image. Being also a writer of poetry myself, I am aware of the importance of the auditory which I try to stress in particular in my visual images. Thus, I could say my project with Alida could also be called: Hearing picture, seeing poems….as was the title of my first presentation of my poetry book, where I also focused my attention  particularly on the articulation of certain parts of my poem.

Eva Petrič



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