TQW Magazin
Ferdinand Schmatz on If What Could Be Is How Why Not by Andrea Maurer

Andre A: the text is written


Andre A: the text is written

The body in its original state? Language in its original state?
Its space in its original state? Do we want to go there? Backwards. Forwards?
Now is never?
We’re concerned with the now: the moment is short.
Now is always!
At the moment of a pre- or post-linguistic innocence? If this is possible, yes. If not, then let’s get to work. The artistic work, as proposed by Andrea Maurer.

The possibility of the body that turns inward. Of the language that turns outward. Which both tell us the facts by way of the materialities they have released, after having brought about the facts: the the the. And letting them act like that. Inducing the feeling that the snow is falling.

Don’t think – look!

The orderly gaze, complying with the logical predication of grammar and syntax, is being disrupted. With its own language through the language of others as a body. With bodies of others through its own body as language.

Its own muscle screams with the silence of an other’s gaping mouth: the mouth is the speaker.

The mouth closes, opens, cries a little, or smiles. The one belongs with the other. The disruption of ideal communication by way of gestures, sounds, voices is revealed aurally, visually and by touch as a thing shared: inside the speaking.

And, yes, included and integrated in the joint process of watching. Watching in its original state in the group as a self (which says: “dog meow”) that emerged in childhood but seems to have been lost, and now wants to be brought back: the voice is speaking.

The bringing-back is not meant to be restful. It doesn’t take place in a quiet space.
The mouth cries out into the silence of the muscle: the speaking inside.
Or, to put it more simply: it doesn’t speak what is expected although it speaks precisely what had been expected, however, in a slightly different manner.

Does this different kind of repetition – expected, in fact, and categorised as mind-numbing, as automatist, etc. – mess up the order otherwise being established, through the recurrence of the not-quite-same?

It’s not about something eternal but rather about something ordinary, the neighbourhood within us and in the things around all of us together – the hybrid creatures that we are with other things. It’s about yesterday and tomorrow, but even more about the present, the second, or the micro-moment: the curtains are hanging; the neighbour is breathing.

Simple. Familiar. Terse. A colloquial walk around language.
Or multiple walks around languages. And that’s when the space emerges or joins in or breaks away: the eye is the space.

The flow between these levels, layers of language and body. And then the jump.

Yes, the jump. Leaping into space as the action of jumping. What has been memorised is not remembered. In the process of jumping, it is brought back through jumps from among all those involved. It’s the bringing back of what had been lost, found – and built from it.

The monologic repetition cracks and interlocks with and onto the actions of others, but isn’t shattered at once by its own automatism.

Which may be brought into play until it jumps and the curtain falls and rises again. And we jump – or I or you or it jumps. Something shatters in the process, reveals itself to be broken. But the possibility of the jump surmounts the cracks easily or, at times, in a crudely stiff manner. Pleasing and sad.

Do we have a choice? We do, if we accept the disruption by others as a liberating rushing sound; or understand it to be a child’s hand using a shovel not for the sandbox but for a structural pillar, which can, very unconventionally, be a letter. Give a shovel, take a letter. Always something added. Always something taken away.

We, the viewers, are not a stable entity in all this. Even though we are supposed to sit there as a mass and should want to do so. Only as a mass are we a heap of misery, but as individuals with others we are strong decision-makers because we are co-actors, or, in a passive role, falling peacefully asleep. A childhood dream comes true.

The volume doesn’t matter in this scenario.

The quiet muscle screams in the loud mouth. But the sounds themselves are waves, they crackle; or, at the back, the next letter thunders up, falls to the ground and forms a peaceful moss with others, but puts down roots in the process, which may be stumbled over.

Andrea Maurer and her co-actors make this other A possible, which doesn’t have to become a B, but could just as well be a Y.


Ferdinand Schmatz writes poetry, prose, essays, audio dramas. Lives in Vienna. Head of the Institute of Language Arts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna since 2012. Many awards (including Ernst Jandl Prize in 2009). Publications (selection): quellen. Gedichte (2010), auf SÄTZE! Essays zur Poetik, Literatur und Kunst (2016), das gehörte feuer. orphische skizzen (2016).


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