Ștefania Becheanu is a sound artist and interdisciplinary performer. Employing a multifaceted approach that encompasses sound, visual art, and the body, her multimedia works reside at the intersection of experimental, improvised music, field recording, and performance. She incorporates contemporary movement and dance into her sound installations. Her creative expressions span solo performances on a live stage (e.g., “Une écoute intime,” created at the Arsenal / Cité musicale-Metz; “Fragile”), visual and sound installations in a museum (e.g., “Kantaje, de la langue aux oreilles,” exhibited at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and in Venice), and physical reflections inspired by contact with nature (e.g., “La danse de l’arbre” with Mathilde Vrignaud). At other times, her work revolves around a book (e.g., “Silence-décomposition” with Pierre-Luc Landry, published by Nota Bene), musical improvisation (“Noi Trei”), artistic productions (e.g., Constellations festival in Paris and Fey’stival 57 in Féy), or sound creation workshops in schools and social centres. Through the diversity of her creations, Ștefania Becheanu aims to break down barriers between forms and genres, promote emancipation through art, and explore the concept of active and empathetic listening as a means of expressing emotion and vibration.
Discussions with artists regarding the residency projects commence before their physical presence in Slon. The dialogue with Ștefania began with a personal project, conceived in several stages, titled “Je m’en vais/ I’m leaving.” In this project, the red-clad performer merges with nature, challenging natural elements. During the audiovisual artistic residency hosted by META Cultural Foundation in Slon, Ștefania envisioned a female character dressed in red, confronting the forest, threatening clouds, wild animals, and the turbulent force of nature itself. With each step, she boldly advances, seemingly vanishing into the wilderness. Although she won’t truly disappear, she chooses to leave. This departure signifies her decision to prioritize self-discovery over the familiar, returning to the primal essence of nature, often associated with femininity, to renew her life force. “I’m leaving” becomes a declaration of independence, a rebellion against the constraints of social norms. Additionally, beyond the poetry and majesty of nature, the underlying theme of self-acceptance emerges.
Upon arriving in Slon, Ștefania found inspiration not only in the landscape, but also in the community spirit and the concept of the bear. In the mountain village where the residency takes place, the presence of the bear is palpable. In the past, she enjoyed solitary hikes in the mountains, but a new fear prevented this solitary quest. This fear, symbolized by the bear, meshes harmoniously with the original concept. Consequently, Becheanu embarked on a journey into the community, seeking the courage to overcome her fears with the support of the Slon villagers.
Thus, Becheanu initiated a ritual, an opportunity to interact with the women of the village. She proposed that they sew words of encouragement together on her red cloth/mantle. She herself wrote first, sewing, “I want to meet the bear,” and gradually, a story was created together with the village elders with the aim of connecting to the collective power of the community against fear, the bear, and with the aim of receiving mutual help. She asked for help and received help. With each stitch, the words turned into magical incantations, woven with the support of the women who assisted her in this endeavour.
Sound, an integral component of her artistic expression, led her to a traditional source of inspiration. In the village church, the sound of the “toaca,” a wooden instrument used to call/warn (as appropriate) the community, resonated Sunday after Sunday. Inspired by it, Stefania composed her own melodies that would harmonize with the forest. These young girls were trained by Stefania through movement and performance sessions.
However, an intriguing question arises: to whom is this sound directed? Is it a call to us or a request to the bear? Is it calling us or offering us protection? Ambiguity shrouds the sound in mystery, enhancing its appeal.
As the piece unfolds, several young women appear in the forest, embodying the spirit of confrontation with the density of the forest. They move in unison, invoking the essence of the artist in red. Their footsteps signify not only personal empowerment but also collective strength. This dichotomy between solitude and communion becomes a powerful symbol, highlighting the distinction between solitude and sustained exploration.
Thus, Stefania’s project captures a compelling story that elegantly weaves together themes of courage, nature, community, and self-discovery. The vivid imagery and symbolism present in the work evoke a state of introspection and curiosity, transforming
“I’m leaving” into a profound exploration of the human experience in embracing nature and community: “I want to meet the Bear.”
In addition to the project developed during the residency, Stefania accepted the invitation to offer sound and movement classes to groups of children eager to discover new forms of artistic expression. They enthusiastically welcomed Stefania’s proposals, and by the end of the residency, they were delighted to meet artists and experience contemporary art.
I want to meet the Bear
a film by Ștefania Becheanu
with Ștefania Becheanu
The seamstresses: Vilica Alexandru, Maria Andreescu, Aura Brebeanu, Adelina Burlan, Adina Ceapă, Alice Ceapă, Sevastița Ceapă, Eugenia Ciutacu, Raluca Doroftei, Cosmina Duca, Liuta Duca, Mihaela Duca, Vasilica Duca, Antonia Ila, Florica Ilovan, Gina Ilovan, Elena Loloiu, Sevasta Manta (Tanti Savinica), Camelia Ogrezeanu, Eugenia Ogrezeanu, Petruța Popa, Mariana Strîmbeanu, Flori Strîmbeanu
The performers: Adelina Burlan, Alice Ceapă, Raluca Doroftei, Cosmina Duca, Antonia Ila
The bear skin dancer: Jonathan Poulet
Emerging artist: Ștefania Becheanu (Paris, France/ Romania)
Residency place: META Cultural Foundation (Slon village, Prahova County, Romania)
Practice: sound artist and interdisciplinary performer
Collaborating artists: Mihai Smeu, Andrei Predescu, Jonathan Poulet
Curated by: Raluca-Elena Doroftei
Curatorial text by Raluca-Elena Doroftei