Polina Korobkova - Бы [Biy]: eternal mantra for three fair maidens - neo
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Бы [Biy]: eternal mantra for three fair maidens

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Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart
Interdisciplinary, Performance
3 tracks

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Added on 24 April 2022


composed by Polina Korobkova

premiered by Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, April 2019, Festival Archipel, Geneva
recorded by Jean Keraudren

Sopranos - Johanna Zimmer, Susanne Leitz-Lorey
Mezzo - Truike van der Poel

The name of my piece is a Russian verbal particle used in the subjunctive mood, expressing a condition that cannot be fulfilled; or which could potentially be fulfilled, but not fulfilled and will not be fulfilled. The closest word in english is ‘if’, although it lacks a variety of subtle differences in its meanings arising from slight differences in the contexts and even the way it is articulated.
If we could rank words by their archetypical meanings, this simple particle for Russian culture would definitely be among the top ranks. “Бы” [biy] is extensively used in everyday life and in most prominent literature pieces. In many cases this is the typical state of mind of Russian people — “if only I was.., then...” or “if this could be.., then...”.
Alexander Pushkin — the iconic poet of the 19th century golden age, wrote “The Tale of Tsar Saltan...”. It starts from the scene of spinning. Three “fair maidens” talk about their innermost desires, using the “бы” [biy]-construct: "Were our tsar to marry me, I would...”. Games of meanings resolves their wishes to come true, but none of three sisters is satisfied with them anymore, moreover the whole situation turns into a nightmare.
Slavoj Žižek bases his post-Lacan philosophy on questioning the phenomena of willing: “We don't really want to get what we think that we want”. Wishes are both our limitations and moderators of becoming.
In my work I’m investigating a situation, where we have all the preconditions to be carried into the future, but instead are stuck in a constant “бы” [biy]/ if-attempt.

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