These days, when anything goes, it seems appropriate to reflect upon the true meaning of such hackneyed, spoiled terms as original, modern, post-modern, avant-garde and experimental, when applied to the latest artistic proposals. The global culture of the last few decades seems to have seen it all before, including the innovations of the avant-garde. Earlier on, poet Antonio Machado spoke ironically of those connoisseurs who were returning without ever having departed. So, let’s go, as soon as possible! Not backwards, but towards the essence of things, towards the knowledge/foundations [conocimiento/cimiento] of forgotten traditions. Let’s assimilate the primitive, the ancient, the classical! Let’s steal them! Let’s uncover their archetypes to make them our own and, once they are apprehended, be able to return, really return, fostering a new art form, an other poetry.
Imitating and copying is undignified. On the contrary, stealing and appropriating the sources to integrate, digest and forget them, transcending them and converting them into something else can give rise to an original art form, art without artifice. A work of art can only be the result of a process: it can neither be created nor chosen. Everything is already there. Muses do not exist, and the new, in art as in science, is an open secret waiting to be unveiled.
The title Cantos Robados is a playful hint containing an entire declaration of principles that raises the need of process, of straying and losing ourselves on long roads, stumbling among rolling stones, constantly going back and forth, in a loop/eternal return feeding on ancient roots, now transformed and purified by an athanor transited by an infinity of musical cultures and by the most attractive, complex and strange vocal practices of this labyrinthine world, placing them in a fertile, crossbred and renewed dialogue, so as to give them another flavour, an other song.
Born of an ethno-minimalist sensitivity, Fátima Miranda turns her back on the tyranny of the canons of beauty in song and word and, facing the world her own way, she fearlessly rushes into the forest of the oral traditions which still inhabit this world: The berber alborbolas, Basque irrintxis, the microtones of the Indian Raga, griot and shaman street bands, the Dionysian melopea, Mongolian and Tibetan multiphonics, Pygmy, Iranian, Canarian and Tyrolean yodels, the nasal voices of Corsica, Indonesia and China, the interjective shouts of Japanese Nô and Kabuki, the splintered retorts of the Korean Pansori, jazzy scat, the cante jondo and the most sublime sacred chant – such as the Indian Dhrupad, the Buddhist Shomio, Zen Sutras, the Almohedine Koran, Gregorian and Byzantine chants, and Sufi Qawwali – thus become for her a delicacy and a language, as common as bel canto or sprechgesang, loaded with phonetic memories, which possibly precede language itself, evoking extinct codes of communication which are nestled in the collective unconscious.
The dramaturgy of Cantos Robados is structured into two large blocks. The character of the first part is inner, contained, and ritualistic. The singer seems to float enraptured high up, sculpting the air with a voice of crystal or thunder, of the Orient and the Disorient, of an ancient matriarch or a siren, generating the necessary complicity that such an imposing presence requires. The second part is down on the ground, with a more joyful and profane atmosphere. Yet, both parts are steeped in an ironic view of the presence of the sacred in the domestic.
On stage, one voice and the gestures of a single female singer who interacts with a monumental and versatile costume-set of changing physiognomies, suggesting various architectures and landscapes (tent, house, apse or volcano), which are enhanced by a refined lighting design. Cantos Robados generates as many interpretations as there are spectators, each one nourished on and filtered through the individual baggage, the unconscious and the imagination of each person, and not based on pre-established formulas of attention.
The collaboration between Fátima Miranda and stage designer Mirella Weingarten springs from a special understanding. Both are capable of elevating objects, attitudes and domestic elements – to which most people wouldn’t give a second thought – to the level of art. Audacious and free of unfounded exhibitionism, both artists act just within those limits where something occasionally seems to be on the breaking point. In both their aesthetics there is something of the archaic and intangible, which appears to transport the audience far away from this world, submerging it in an elegantly sensual atmosphere, whilst an attitude of irony towards the kitsch and the grotesque exudes playfulness, joy, and even shades of fun and sagacious madness. Intimate contention and extroversion coexist in a synthesis which harmonises the ordinary and the sublime.
Somewhere between Salamanca – birthplace of the artist, where she studied Arts – and Samarkand – on the route to India, where she studied music – between the East and the West, between tradition and the avant garde, there lie the places these Stolen Songs/Rolling Stones metaphoricallyspring from and move through: the more rolling they are, the more stolen they become!