TQW Magazin
Mirela Baciak on Notebook by Alexandra Bachzetsis

Don’t We Look A-Like


Don’t We Look A-Like

As I sit in the dim light of the audience and watch Alexandra Bachzetsis’ Notebook unfold on stage, following two bodies in motion that almost never look directly at each other, manifesting the Self mirrored in the form of the other, I feel the strange urge to search for myself in the bodies of others as well. A feeling that is not necessarily driven by desire but rather by a reluctant necessity.

In Notebook, the two performers wear denim, artfully intertwined in a choreography. Denim, with its roots as a robust working-class textile, has become a staple of rebellious fashion, mirroring the shifting perceptions of gender norms and tracing back to when jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion and later women’s liberation. The performers’ denim postures not only recall this legacy but also reframe it, suggesting an exploration of identity and resistance.

There is a special observer on stage – the camera, whose lens sometimes frames the unfolding performance. Two screens are part of the set, one of which is intriguingly twisted, distorting my way of looking, emphasizing the mediation of reality and the manipulation inherent in the performance of the Self.

Notebook disrupts the continuity of linear time, capturing a disjointed rhythm that mimics the chaotic flow of memories (or moments) of the Self on display. It is an assemblage of movements, poses and glitches – some of which are full of references evoking the worlds of fashion photography, famous film scenes, as well as the in- and extimacies[1] of sex in general, as well as the ripped pants of Valie Export (Genitalpanik), the lift from Dirty Dancing, or the twist by Vincent and Mia in Pulp Fiction, in particular.

These are the codes of the Self that is molded by aesthetic norms of movement. They play on similarity and approval as well as the dynamics of control, questioning whether authenticity can even exist when our bodies are constantly filtered by what we mirror ourselves in.

Notebook thus also explores the spectrum of how our bodies are inscribed with information, living through the quotations of gestures that shape us. What are these movements we seem to inherit and then pass on? Do they represent idealized concepts of what a body should be?

In the arts, to be seen as authentic often requires proving one’s origin through a performance of the self that is distinctly unique yet universally recognized. Such a moment occurs in the piece when Alexandra sings a song in Greek (which I do not understand), that establishes her identity in the moment. And, funnily enough, it is in this moment of incomprehension that I see myself in the mirror that Bachzetsis provides.


[1] Cf. Jacques Lacan’s notion of “extimacy”, an “intimate exteriority” that constitutes an uncanny relationship between intimacy and exclusion, an estranged attachment to the stranger within.

Mirela Baciak is a curator in the field of visual arts with roots in contemporary dance. In her curatorial and writing practice, she is interested in creating connections between bodies and objects, space as well as concepts, ideas, and other bodies, where distance is relative. She currently serves as director of the Salzburger Kunstverein.