Romantic Animal is a fictional documentary portrait of Denise Groesman, actress and visual artist.
Agostina López, author and director of the play, has worked with Denise in her actress capacity in two previous plays: My Own Beach and The Lake. Yet in this process, Denise’s involvement takes the form of performer and creator.
The play picks up different works of Denise as visual artist spanning over ten years. The stages where the play unfolds are four exhibitions Denise held between 2014 and 2018: “Life Sheds Us of Ourselves, What Is Left Is Another Person”, “The Cave Is Where It Shelters”, “I Am Family”, “Yes, I Am Sinister”, and her workshop, that is, the space where we see her paint, set up her models, experiment with different materials, and where also her paintings, sculptures and videos from previous times can be seen.
The play is a cross between theatre and visual arts; for inspiration, it draws on these installations by Denise to set up theatrical scenes over them.
In the play, Denise is Denise, but at the same time she is not: the play treats her artistic work in a documentary fashion to then depart towards fiction and fantasy.
The play is like the maze of her mind and creation, inhabited by all her works to date. It is her subconscious, the crossroads of her mind.
Within that maze, three presences appear. Her father, who introduces the money issue: How do I live off my work? What is the relationship between art and market? Is it possible to generate art that is free and independent from outside demands? What do I want to say with my work? Is there a message? Is my art something personal that addresses others? What does one inherit from their parents? How does contagion among us works? What information is carried in our own blood?
In the workshop, Denise has an interlocutor that could be an assistant, a curator, someone who stands by her side in her artistic process, who reflects upon her work, someone who helps her make sense of her own work, drawing her towards new questions that distort her former beliefs and bring about new thoughts.
Lastly, a girl she gets romantically involved with. With her, a question about the body arises, about what is to love someone of the same sex, what it is like to fuck men and what it is like to fuck women, what is that space founded on the feminine character, how to present female bodies from the perspective of a female creator, what pleasure is like in a woman, how do I live it, what are my freedoms and my rights.
And at the same time, the play results in an exhibition. The play switches its code, and at the end the audience is invited onto the stage to walk through the workshop and the maze of works they have already seen as spectators. They can see them up close. All Denise Groesman’s visual works that are displayed on stage and that are part of the play are real and were either painted or set up by her. When the audience walks onto the stage, it is like being in the artist’s personal museum, where all the works are veritable.