August 15, 2017
Before Outernational Days 2 festival started, I decided to interview Shape artist Stefan Fraunberger, one of the guest artists, born in Austria but transformed throughout his earthly experiences and choices into a man of many borrowed-embodied roots.
Composer, sound performer but also a linguist speaking Arabic, Persian, Romanian with an inherent anthropological eye, Stefan is interested in the periphery, the ‘in between’ and the non-established cultural wonders; the ambiguity of language and sound alike. His unorthodox use of instruments like deserted church organs or dulcimers combined with his deconstructive, conceptual thinking make him one of the most interesting, unconventional artists I’ve listened in quite a while.
Since I picked him from the airport and following the next three days we spent together, I was struck by his skills of speaking Romanian, many archaic phrases and subtle nuances of speech and humor. At first I thought he had some relatives here but it turned out he spent less than a few years working near Sibiu, added with visits he did periodically in different parts of Romania. He was even excited to share the stage with Florin Salam, as the first act of the four programmed for Sunday evening, alongside Ogoya Nengo & The Dodo Women’s Group and Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force. Unfortunately many locals did not get the curatorial, multiculti bliss of that evening, choosing to speak or write only about Salam and the many outdated questions regarding manele’s place.
Stefan’s performance was powerful and very appropriate as an opening act. Using a synthesized Santur he created an orchestra-like feeling with layers of gloomy drone soundscapes entangled with naïve harmonies twirling endlessly, as if it replicated a parallel universe genesis.
This conversation was recorded on July 9, while having lunch in Bucharest’s Old City Center at the post-traditional romanian restaurant Lacrimi și Sfinți – named after a book by Emil Cioran that Stefan read.
“‘In one sense the Reality is creatures; in another sense it is not. ... Whether you assert that it is undivided or divided, the Self is alone. The manifold [universe] exists and yet it does not exist.’ - Ibn Arabi”