Since CaboSanRoque fist performed No em va fer Joan Brossa at the Temporada Alta festival on 18 November 2016, their interpretation of the early work of Joan Brossa from a sound perspective has not stopped touring and enjoying success and enthusiasm.
And it is no small feat. Using a set of daily objects of Brossian memory – beaten up, recycled and put together creatively, CaboSanRoque, which has always relied on sound and the expressive capacity of machines, has created an installation of sound, art and mechanics which takes the visitor to a metalandscape which evolves through analogical tools in movement, lights, shadows and smoke.
These are the landscapes that Brossa shaped in his scenic prose and poetry in the 1940s and 1950s and which – as the voice of the poet himself says in the installation – turn become the oneiric and mysterious landscape of the Garden of Batafra by Antoni Tàpies, the grim landscape of the battle of the Segre and in the murky forests of the opera Parsifal by his much admired and recurrent Wagner. With this accessible accumulation of daily and phantasmagorical objects, CaboSanRoque applies to the object and to the landscape the transformism of Fregoli, another of Brossa’s poetical references throughout his career.
From the shadows surrounding the piece and the artistic elements which come to life under the surprised gaze of the public, a set of sounds emerges which include different fragments of the scenic poetry from the same period, full of alliterations. “What is more important is the sound of the work, rather than its meaning”, says Laia Torrents, who founded CaboSanRoque in 2001 together with Roger Aixut. Winners of one of the research and innovation grants for visual arts from the Government of Catalonia, these two sound artists have reinterpreted the production of Brossa’s prose from a transdisciplinary angle to create a piece which uses Brossanian materials and begins with the voice of the poet, the music of Wagner, puffs of smoke and old typewriters which mark the beat with their keystrokes.
CaboSanRoque tells us “The movement of the installation is autonomous and the presence of the public does not change it. It is just the opposite. The installation subtly influences the movement of the viewers within the space without them even realising. The piece lasts 27 minutes. It has a beginning and an end and the public can enter every 30 minutes”.
It’s not art, but it almost is. It’s not theatre, but it almost is.
When the group presented this piece in the Arts Santa Mònica centre just a year ago, they thanked the director at that time, Jaime Reus, stating that “where are you going to exhibit something that is not art, but almost it; is not theatre, but almost is? It going to be pretty difficult”. Of course, they never thought that the piece would go on tour non-stop – not only in Catalonia but also abroad, for example in the Centre for Contemporary Art of Glasgow (Scotland) and the Filature de Mulhouse (France) to mention just a couple of the centres that have requested it.
Currently CaboSanRoque is working on 22 Agujeros – a large-scale interactive audiovisual installation on collective memory and oblivion, which relives the story of 159 unidentified republican fighters whose remains were found in 22 common graves in different towns and villages. “Only the public through their participation and movement in the space can make the 22 holes visible and have a part in this contemporary oration which attempts to visualise and give a sonorous for to these 150 non-names”, CaboSanRoque tell us. On 8 June they will present a theatrical poetic work at the Altre Festival made with people with mental illnesses and in November a new theatrical work in the Temporada Alta Festival.
The sound installation No em va fer Joan Brossa, which explores the least-known prose of the poet from the angle of sound will be on until 5 May at the Museum of Granollers and it will then move on to the Teatre Principal de Palma (8 to 14 May), the La Sala Contemporary Arts Centre of Vilanova i la Geltrú (17 May to 30 June), the Sala Trinitaris in Vilafranca del Penedès (20 September to 20 October), the Museum of Art of Cerdanyola (November-December) and the Abelló Museum in Mollet del Vallès (December-January 2020).