by Goran Stefanovski
REF Output 1
During the development of this essay my research question was what happens to meaning in the process of translation and how much of it gets obfuscated and lost during transmission . I was exploring the following themes:
1) Chasms in communication
2) Contrastive analysis between different cultures and symbolic orders
3) Attempts at translation which end in failure
The essay refers to the theories of cultural and communication studies and texts like “Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies” by Stuart Hall (1996) and more recently “Is That a Fish in Your Ear” by David Bellos (2011). It tackles issues of artistic “translation”, intercultural sensitivity and cultural and linguistic lacunae. It deals with the notions of psychological and semantic noise which distracts or impairs communication.
My methodology is practice-based narrative articulation of the affective aspects of these issues. The essay is therefore a dramatic soliloquy written in the first person singular. It reads like an individual voice dramatizing the tensions between cultural policy and creative artistic practice. Its approach is to show the problem rather than discuss it in a discursive way. This pursuit of the affective dimension in my research gave the essay a unique position and reception among the standard papers presented at the “Writing in Many Tongues”, Lives in Translation at the Research Institute for the Study of Culture and the Department of Slavic Languages and Cultures, Groningen University in 2008.
The piece studies the same issues which are discussed in cultural, political and social forums, but it offers a fresh way of looking at them. The new knowledge which is produced in the process gives audiences and readers an alternative understanding of the issue. It offers a different kind of knowledge, which is narrative rather than discursive.
REF Output 2
TO THE HILT
(Screenplay for a Feature Film)
In developing the screenplay of “To the Hilt” my key research question was what happened to the people of the Balkans during the explosive historical changes at the beginning of the 2oth century, when the collision of dominant colonizing ideologies brought about serious psychological and political “orientalist” traumas.
This issue is theorised very well in the books by Dina Iordanova Cinema of Flames (2001) and Cinema of the Balkans (2006). Post-colonialist theorists, like Edward Said in his Orientalism (1978), argue that many tenets and assumptions of colonialism are still virulent forces today and they contain racist and imperialist fuel.
The central dramatic character Therese comes to the Balkans as a potential “colonialist” and is certainly perceived as such by the “natives” she encounters. Some characters behave in a “self-exoticising” manner in order to impress her. There is a fight for supremacy – whose voice is going to be heard most, whose is the story, who will own the narrative? This becomes a matter and question of representation. Therese meets natives who have long been silenced and now demand their voice. The Postcolonial theory describes them as subalterns, marginalized characters who are without agency by their social status.
My methodology of practice-based research is primarily articulated through visual story telling. It uses the language of screenwriting to give dramatic voice to the affective aspects of these issues and to find a through line of action in the otherwise amorphous history.
The Balkan peninsula has been a precarious intersection of major political and cultural boundaries and a battleground for imperial drives and competing ideologies. This is a legacy which continues to this day. This kind of research brings about vital new insight to audiences hungry for knowledge which is so often neglected by official history or misconstrued by daily politics.
REF Output 3
(a play for the theatre)
In developing the play of “Odysseus” my key research question was what happens to individual and national identity when it undergoes tectonic historical and political changes. My particularly interest was the identity crisis of the population of ex-Yugoslavia after the civil wars of the 1990s.
The script refers to theoretical issues of liminality, the convulsive “rites of passage” when social hierarchies become reversed and dissolved, when continuity of tradition becomes uncertain and future is thrown into doubt. Drama by definition deals with characters out on a limb, fish out of water. Theoretical texts which analyse these aspects are, for example “Prologues to Shakespeare’s Theatre – Performance and Liminality in Early Modern Drama) by D. Bruster and R. Weiman, 2004 and Victor Turner “Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality” (1979)
My methodology is practice-based dramatization of these issues. It leads to a performance, a showing of these issues on the stage, where they are given affective urgency and immediacy. Using some of the methods of Brecht (alienation) and the theatre of absurd of Beckett and Pinter (stasis, language as smoke screen) the piece points to the uncertainty of the subject matter, the ambiguity between text and subtext, collision between what seems and what is, contradiction between the spoken and the inferred.
The theories of affect generally point to visceral forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing. These forces can serve to drive us toward movement, thought and ever-changing forms of relation. I believe that my play offers the kind of new knowledge which Geoffrey White calls “emotional meaning”, a way to integrate the emotional aspects of meaning as well as the meaningful aspects of emotion”. Perhaps that is why the play has had a big reception and huge audiences.