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IMPRESSIONS: Natasa Trifan Performance Group

IMPRESSIONS: Natasa Trifan Performance Group
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on December 6, 2009

Natasa Trifan Performance Group in CAPTURING GIL-GULIM II — presented by SLAG Gallery November 28th, 2009

Natasa Trifan Performance Group in CAPTURING GIL-GULIM II -presented by SLAG Gallery
November 28th, 2009

Concept/Choreography: Natasa Trifan
Performer : Natasa Trifan
Video Designer: Martin Burga
Music: Petre Radu Scafaru, Erol Israfil and Italian songs
Costume: Oana Botez-Ban
Photography: Mary Wehrhahn


© Christine Jowers 2009

In her 45 minute solo performance at the Slag Gallery in Chelsea’s Art District, Natasa Trifan becomes a painting--no--many paintings, filling the white walled, grey cement floored enclosure with color, perspective, and texture.

CAPTURING GIL-GULIM II is structured as a series of episodes each with a unique character --painterly, sensual, ritualistic, jazzy, lyrical, cabaret-like, and ancient. Trifan cycles through each section holding her focus and our interest.

Video projection gently accompanies the dance, saturating the galleries back wall with interpretations of a nude body surrounded by color and floating forms. Presented as an anonymous and androgynous nude in the desert, the projected body is often still or moves ever so slowly.

At first, hovering in the center of a green background, we see two torsos melded together creating an egg shape. Later various projections of the full body change their size, position, and configuration on the wall, shifting our perspective. (Sometimes it seems as if the wall is breathing.) It is a pleasure to observe the supple lines, curves and arcs of the body pliant against the rigid dusty desert environment.

Gilgulim, a word of Hebrew origin, can have many fascinating meanings. It refers to the rotations of souls through space and time, to re-incarnation, to the transfer of a dead soul to a living body, to angels, guardian angels and angels with wheels. A definition, that resonated with me, especially after seeing Trifan’s work was one I discovered on, “Orthodox Qabbalists maintain that after death the soul goes through a series of whirlings or cyclings, finding no rest until the "immortal particle" reaches Palestine (the promised land).”

In, CAPTURING... Trifan addresses not only ideas of painting-perspective, still life, and sculpture, but also the idea transformation. The nude on the desert brings to mind “ the immortal particle reaching the Promised Land,” as well as the Genesis quote describing the ultimate transformation, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

At the start of the evening we encounter the “ stage area” of the gallery decorated with a rippled royal blue tablecloth stretched diagonally along the floor. At each end of the cloth there is a plate of food. On the outer edge of the cloth, at the center, is a small open white box with a serving platter on top, a vessel inside and a small circle cut into its upper right corner.

One of my favorite images is Trifan’s head resting on this platter as if an element of a still life painting. Because her body is behind the white box, the head appears to be disconnected. Her arms, reaching diagonally down toward the floor, don’t seem hers anymore. Suddenly they are odd fingered appendages, the sides of an eerie triangle of which a disembodied head is the top point. Odd perspective shift.

Trifan paints a new picture in each segment of her performance. Her costumes change from floating dress, to jeans, to suit, to glitter jacket, to wings. Her music moves from soundscapes, to text, to what sounds like French cabaret music to tango, and unto more operatic flavors. In the first part of the evening on the blue table cloth she indulges in the pleasures of her laid out table, finally ending it all by scrunching her once beautiful banquet beneath her feet and shuffling it off stage. (All good things must come to an end.) In another section, she dances percussively to insistent drums moving drinking glasses with her toes. In yet another, she performs a ritual, using very specific curved arms and rocking gestures to carefully set out a wine glass and plate. The ritual evolves into a rocking on the knees, which becomes lyrical falling and rebounding with jumps and kicks. In some sections she uses the back wall to slam into or slide down. One of her incarnations, wearing a sparkling silver jacket, appears to be a nightclub nymphet selling herself with sexy shoulder rolls.

When Trifan enters the space with feathered wings on her back, she surveys the area as if seeing heaven and earth at once. Her angel with the all-encompassing vision is the first and only character in Trifan’s collection to acknowledge the human form on the screen. She takes in and attempts to move with the figure—perhaps a guardian angel. In moments when the two mirror each other, heaven and earth connect. It is serene, tender, and humane.

In the final image, Trifan’s lower body is wrapped in the blue fabric from the beginning. She emerges from the bright color much as an unfinished statue emerges from a block of marble. Playing with her fabric she creates luscious curving shapes, taking pause to feast like a bacchante on grapes—not shoving them to her mouth, but as in classical sculpture and painting, sweeping a bunch above her head, allowing the grapes to fall gently in. As she moves, bold orange vertical bands appear on either side of the background screen and inch toward the screens midpoint. The closer the bands get to center the more architectural they appear. As they enclose her, we recognize the bands now represent columns, making it apparent that Trifan has become a statue in an ancient temple.

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