Recent archeological research from Archaic Inventions

October 17, 2017

Tape aInsidecotc100


Revolutionary Performances

April 24, 2011

This text was created on the evening between the night of 2nd February and dawn of 3rd February 2011, Cairo, during the peak of demonstrations that lead to the Egyptian Revolution of the 21st Century…

Revolutionary Performances- by Adham Hafez
While the title of this article indicates that it has to do with performances and revolutions, it does not discuss performances that were intended for orthodox modes of presenting or understanding performing or performance art. It also does not deal with performances taking place within theatre contexts, and it does not deal with propagandist performances that were politically scripted to generate a particular mass national sense of identity or other, the way the 1960’s in Egypt for example would have exemplified such a practice.

January 2011, a glorious and momentous revolution in Egypt erupts. The unpremeditated revolution was a decentralized vivid fabric that was self-activated (and due to a particular socio-political and demographic realities) to respond to another stale and stagnant fabric; a corrupt ruling regime. The previous Egyptian regime (pre-January 2011) was a fabric that was very rich in performative content and strategies. It operated through the performativity of particular class qualities, Arabist and Nationalist qualities and a mesh of other performative aspects that manipulate and suspend the better judgment of the Egyptian layman, or so it seemed to be the case until the revolution erupted. From the first day of the revolution’s unfolding, and with how the regime fought to stay potent, and with how the demonstrating nation fought back to end its stagnant hegemony, the battle took place within performance and performative things.

One very dark evening, the bridge across the street from where I write, was populated by the self-alleged “Pro-Mubarak” supporters. At a certain hour the organized choreographed crowd descended from the bridge, and took metal rods and banged on the wall that separates between Abdelmoneim Riad Square (where the Egyptian Museum is situated) and one of the side streets that could lead into the heart of downtown, and hence into Tahrir square, where the anti-Mubarak sit-ins was taking place. The banging was rhythmic and was continuous (and as you may hear in the audio-file linked into this article) for hours and hours until dawn. At the same time, gunshots and explosions were heard, coming from the direction of those self-declared “Pro-Mubarak” supporters (according to what they were chanting of vulgar insults to the anti-Mubarak demonstrators). If I were to take an unemotional distance from the event and address it for its performative content: it was a very tight dramaturgy of sound and of actions. But, I was embedded in the fearfulness and threatening thoughts it offered at first.

The space was invaded and inhabited by their sound. Their presence was seated beyond where they stood, through the use of the continuously rhythmic banging on the wall, and through their gunshots and explosives. The space indoors was no longer protected. They were invisibly inside every room and every aural environment within a large circle from where their center was. Where is the exit, and how could one regain power and space?
The same question was a very recurrent question: How could one step out of this corrupt regime and its hegemony, and how could one regain (reappropriate) space again? Space for expression, the actual physical urban space, the streets, the square, the country… How could we exit hegemony and actively re-inhabit our own country when we are under this immense aggression.

One of the answers that the streets gave to this question was: Performance. The performative content and strategies of the fallen regime were very legible to every Egyptian demonstrator (and possibly read beyond this temporary self-organized community of demonstrators). A man carrying a large Agenda and a slogan on his T-shirt saying “I have an Agenda, come an arrest me” was the performative response to the dramaturgical insertion of the word “agenda” in every attack from the regime on the revolution. A woman handcuffed herself and painted her face with the colours of the flag of Egypt was the performative (almost exorcist) proposition to activate a conceptual and an emotional understanding of how the country was under siege by the ruling party. The performative responses were endless, from non-actors and from non-theatre goers even, one may dare say. It was this that we had in our hands. We are faced by speeches that say “My dear children” and speeches that say “I fight on your behalf”, and it all resides in a performative non-operative realm. We are faced by organized groups of thugs who spread terror through staged nightly performances of continuous banging on walls, shooting blanks at balconies and invading the private sonic spaces of homes each night.

”How could I step out of this? How can I sleep tonight? How can I ignore the sound of bullets, rhythmic war drum banging on the walls downstairs? How can I regain my own home and exorcise it out of those night demons?” The answer was “performance”. With a conceptual redefinition of their performance, I experience the sound as a dramaturgical tool for a horror performance (which was the case). I also decided that they are performative, and are not operative. I decided to dance to the sounds of bullets and rhythmic monotonous metallic banging, and in that sense I make those sounds operative (and not performing what they want those sounds to perform) in the way I select. I danced at home, with friends who were hiding here, reappropriating this sound as a soundtrack to our dancing and not as a soundtrack to a horrific dark performance of the fallen regime thugs, or better to say actors, in that case.

Next morning, on Tahrir square, coincidentally, object-based performances took the stage, redefining items from the “Camels Battle” as museum relics exhibited in the central garden, and redefining any Falafel sandwich as the Kentucky bribe that the national media spoke of. Next morning, and every day that followed, the performances were the constant response, taking back the space that we were deprived of, exorcising ourselves from terror and from control, and dismantling the dysfunctional regime by short-circuiting its performative strategies and firing it back at the enemies of rights.

On “Where Things Reside”

February 16, 2011

During the Seminar that took place in Cairo, Jan2011, we went to see together the performance presentation of choreographer Marie Al Fajr in Egypt. This is a text that reflects on the performance, and what this project provokes.

Marie Al Fajr- Places of Residencies

Text by Adham Hafez

“What could be very interesting is that it is a French woman who is trying to examine contemporary dance through the body of an Egyptian dancer, and an Egyptian man who is trying to examine Baladi Dance through the body of a French dancer.” This was a key sentence repeated around during the rehearsals process of artist Marie Al Fajr, and during her public presentation in Cairo, of her miniature “Les Fleurs de Jardin” by audience members and certain collaborators. An excitement about this trans-cultural and somehow displaced exploration was present. Yet, what this proposes is a clear distinction between the aesthetics of Egyptian dance and that of western Contemporary dance. It also clearly proposes a distinction between Contemporary Egyptian dance, and Contemporary French dance. Or, perhaps it classifies all Egyptian dance as non-Contemporary, and all European or American dance as Contemporary. Witnessing the process of work between choreographer and dancer Marie Al Fajr, and Egyptian dancer Mohamed Fouad, one could witness initially a clear exploration of the other in the work studio to begin with. An exploration of “what could be done together”. An exploration that immediately seems to be the crux of such a process, an exploration that takes the form of improvised dance sequences, choreographed sequences, discussions, poetry readings, drawing, work with images of older miniatures, and more. A few more notes started to come to the surface during that work period, on ways of looking at one another and to the audience, when you dance this particular movement technique or the other one. And the inevitable question about the numeric value to “Love” or to the notion of the Other. While writing the score for the public presentation, score writing and improvisation as practices were confronted, this time from the perspective of Contemporary and Traditional, French and Egyptian, and all the aesthetics and political choices that impregnate and permeate those few terms. When you Baladi-dance you work within preexisting vocabularies that you relate to sound in certain manners based on the history of this relation; this relation of the sound to movement. With the case of Mohamed Fouad being distantiated from Baladi dance for several reasons such as masculine social constructs about mobilizing the pelvis while dancing, but also political decisions on what contemporaneity in dance is. With this being the case the taboo question finally emerged: “What is contemporary dance actually?” This question emerges with its other twin question of course: “What is traditional dance like nowadays?” But, who wants to answer those questions? The taboo question is apparently important, and apparently ever-emerging, yet, one dance scholar and head of a dance studies department at some important university in New Zealand once said “But, this is so 1940’s. We have looked upon this question, over and over, and have reached conclusions”. What I find even more attractive is that “we” still deal with the word “we” so generally. Things belong to a big group of people, who “together” agree, and “together” share history. This group of people, this “We”, has also reached a lot of conclusions about a lot of things. “We” all went through the same political changes, historical changes, aesthetical and conceptual ruptures, apparently! What about “them” then? The question of love and the other that this project deals with becomes more about “We” and “Them”. “Them” and not “they”. “We” is a category of uniformity, of global and universal aesthetics, values, perception modus operandi and presence in discourse. “Them” is a category that includes objects and subjects, and in-between cases that lurk in the echo of questions that were answered in the 1940’s, or before, or after. “Them” is a category of individuals who are never directly informed about the conclusions “We” made about “Them”, and therefore “Them” category perpetuates echoes of obolete questions. A community of echo? …………………

Audience seated almost all around the two dancers, Marie Al Fajr introduces her work in progress: Les Fleurs de Jardin, and insists on the fact that this is only one week of work, and that this is not a finished performance. This is potential, a presentation of potential, an unfinished piece, not-ready, still being worked on, still happening, and full of potential. This is what a presentation of such sorts inspires in audience’s thoughts. A very curious discussion with one journalist present at the public performance stated clearly thoughts like “I cannot write about potential, I can only write about finished pieces.” Critique writing could become obituary-like in that sense, if it is always happening postmortem. How could we write about improvisation when it is finished? In the intensity of dance that we witness from the two bodies on stage, one suddenly stops and thinks: This is an embodiment. Marie Al Fajr is not researching Egyptian dance, Marie embodied Egyptian dance, and is presenting her body to us. Mohammed Fouad embodied a certain ideology of Contemporary dance (ironically, his mentor was a French choreographer with articulate descriptions of what Contemporary dance in France exactly is, and why Egyptian dance cannot be considered Contemporary). The embodiment in this practice frees the subjects discussing the issue from the story of “We” and “Them” as categories of citizenships, and positions it within the realm of the body. It frees it from a nations spaces and their inhabitation, and places it within another space, a mirco-space, or a bodily space. “We” and “Them” are different states of physical presence and physical potency, latency, potential, practice… They are also signifiers of distances (or possible distances) between the extremities of bodies. They provoke a thought of position taken in space. They provoke thoughts about space. We are dealing then in this process with a space experiences. Where things are; this eventually seems to be what the exploration is dealing with. Places of residence of such processes of embodiment of the Other, of representing the Other, of physically understanding the relations between a country and an arm movement, or of something else. Where does Egyptian-ness reside in dance? In the aesthetics, the costume, the particular musicality, the clear relation to percussion interpretation, or in the content and subject matter? And what about French-ness? Where does it reside in dance? In its form, in the lines, in the subject matter and content or in the bodies dancing it themselves and how they feel? The corporeal reality itself of the dancers is where things reside? And, what about contemporaneity, does it reside in the substrata, or in the visible form of arms and legs moving in the air? Traditional Egyptian dance resides in the reciprocity of the gaze between dancer and audience, calculated mobility in-between social and stage personas/bodies while performing, or in holding a national flag and talking of some war? The exploration that takes place on stage between Marie Al Fajr moving around her strong interests in the Egyptian heritage of music and dance becomes a spatial exploration of places of residencies. The same micro-spatial investigation was the case with dancer Mohamed Fouad as he moves through expectations and desires of what he should do and what he wants to do and what he wants to never do. The work becomes a site-seeing (or site-kinesthetizing if such term usage is permissible). A danced physical response to invoking places visited, embodied, abandoned, or created within a body. A few danced places.

The title “Les Fleurs de Jardin” proposes a space, a garden. The hidden lovers garden in love poetry of an earlier period in history of Egypt and neighboring countries. This place that no longer exists, the garden for reflection, for love. This meeting place that does not exist, is proposed through a meeting, within a larger meetings-based project, to talk about an act of extreme meeting; the act of love, or the act of experiencing the other, or in certain cases embodying and carrying the others. It is no coincidence that the none existent “Rouda” is the place mentioned. The title provokes the longing to it, or references the myth of meeting and of truly conversing. It is not a coincidence either that “place” generally is present in the title, when the process was busy not with the Other and the encounter with the other, as much as it was be busy with the playground of events, with where things are.

February 14, 2011

some weeks ago

February 14, 2011

Egypt indoors, some days ago

February 14, 2011

Egypt Indoors
Images of Egyptians demonstrating on Cairo street, images of Egyptians praying on Cairo streets, local and international media picking up on the prayers image put on a quasi-loop and immediately subtitling it based on a political potential they read in it. The first question that came to my mind: Do we know anymore the differences between being a Muslim, and being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood? Why do people seem to think that every person who was praying on streets since the eruption of the January 2011 revolution is part of some politicized Islamic party? What about Christians who prayed publicly when they needed to? Are they part of the Muslim Brotherhood as well? Or are they some Christian Brotherhood perhaps? What about those who are secular, and didn’t pray, are they part of the Secular Brotherhood? Can’t people pray in public anymore without being tagged as a “Political Extremist Dangerous” party? I think this has very little to do with the gesture of praying, especially in a country known very well for a public expression of religiosity. What is it then?

Perhaps this has more to do with the nature of Public Space in Egypt, rather than with praying and rather than with a particular religious practice. Public space has become very difficult towards hosting personal expression in Egypt. Artistic practices are close to absent within public space in Egypt, except for certain commissioned monuments usually of a nationalist content. Street performances, that were part of the Egyptian performative heritage: Karakooz, Story-telling, Ghawazi belly dancers in Moulids, has almost disappeared. Public space also seems to be hostile towards organized or improvized self-expression. For example political expression (demonstrating), as a form of self-expression, is frowned upon by the baton of Riot police.
Peddlers though seem to still survive more than others on streets, even though arresting street peddlers and confiscating what they have is a daily scene on Egyptian streets, exercised with the pretense of constructing a more civilized urban space.

It seems now though that public space in Egypt – this currently politically active and politicized Egypt- is becoming too tight to host a personal expression addressing the Absolute; praying. On the sight of a large group of people praying during the revolution days (a scene that happens five times a day) conclusions are being drawn by the international media as well as by local Egyptian media that this is the conservative and politicized side of Islam. Maybe it is not the prayer that is politicized (and we cannot ignore how politicized Islam itself as a practice and the image of Islam is becoming internationally, and even more and more so on Egyptian media part of their anti-revolution campaign). It is the public space itself that has become politicized, policed and regulated. It has been for a while. But with the eruption of millions of voices, for the first time in Egyptian modern history a revolution as massive as this is, public space became suddenly activated very differently.

Before the revolution started, I wondered what was left to do in the public Egyptian space except to transport oneself from one place to another. We couldn’t socialize, demonstrate, sing, dance, perform, pray… Public space has become a space of displacement, constantly inhabited but constantly abandoned. It has become constantly full but constantly empty and impersonal, constantly trying to excrete citizens who stepped into it towards some other place.

I wondered then what’s left out of a given land, out of a country, and I still wonder about when and how did Egyptians come to terms with the fact that Egypt is almost an indoors area, and that it is acceptable to have no active presence in the public urban space. Egypt then seems to happen at home. Pray at home, talk about how unhappy you are at home, talk about corruption and about freedom at home, hope for a political change at home, show physical intimacy at home. But don’t go out on streets, don’t pray collectively in front of western cameras, don’t hold hands in public, and surely don’t talk about politics loudly in front of local cameras if you are walking in a large group, it is too political for this big void of displacement; the so-called Egyptian public space.

just to remember, some weeks ago

February 14, 2011

Dear friends,

I wrote you this letter, yesterday, but couldn’t send it because they cut down internet and phone networks repeatedly yesterday.
I send it now, but things have changed so much since last night. Begum, did you manage to leave safely? We tried to call you many times to no avail.
So many of my friends were arrested last night , or better to say kidnapped. Fast moving cars just snatched people in and disappeared.
Just a few minutes ago they announced it is state alarm in Midan Tahrir, Bassiouny Street and Talaat Harb Sqaure. Anybody walking in groups of two or more shall be arrested without explanation. Tanks are in the streets. My house turned into a hiding place for many of the protesting friends and their friends. People come and sit and call their friends, since it is the closest place they know to Bassiouny Street and to Tahrir. I don’t know what this leads to, all of this. We are all sitting at home now waiting for the next signal to go out on the streets again.
I copy here what I wrote yesterday to send. It was a very emotional and mental and physical day.
Pray for us, or wish us clear directions,

Dear friends,

Since you know Cairo a little bit, and you know me a little bit, this letter is relevant, I believe. Today was “Day of Wrath” in Cairo, where Egyptians went out on the streets demonstrating against depression. Whatever political slogan a group carried was not really what mattered. It was (and still continues as I hear from my window) about getting together and screaming. I was never part of any demonstrations or revolutions, since I never trust what this could bring, but today I went out on this day. I found myself running and screaming and crying. We were beaten up, thrown with Tear-gas bombs, hosed down with gushing water, until a state security car hit three young Egyptian males. Then people carried one of the three bodies, and walked in streets, lifting him up like to an altar, and screaming even more. We started then hitting the police men, the state security cars, and eventually began throwing the Tear-gas bombs back at the state security when we receive them.

I have not learned about dance or theatre before the way I did today. I must have had a few dance and theatre revelations in my life, of course, but today was something that I learned a lot from. An afternoon of very accelerated learning. People come together, people run in fear, people come together again in pain and in anger, people stop believing suddenly and they stop moving, people get motivated again and they move violently, people are beaten up violently, people throw their bodies at cars, people sleep together on streets until tomorrow morning. No internet, telephone networks keep failing and restarting, and the threat of cutting down power off Midan Tahrir and Talaat Harb Squares is very plaus ible. Twitter, Facebook, and the independent newspaper websites were shut down in Cairo repeatedly, but restarted again I don’t know how.

I went out on streets trying to understand what kind of slogan would I believe in and scream out loud, as a hybrid citizen who never felt a particular sense of nationalist belonging to one flag or another nation. I still don’t believe in parading after one political party or another here, they are all almost the same. I still don’t believe in a flag that unites the Cross with the Crescent, or else where do people like me go. I believe in moving together though, in being excited together, in being so angry together, in being in so much pain together. I also believe more in sacrifice, in self-sacrifice, in mad tyranny, in violent suicides.

I could not stop crying when I was on the street, I could not sing my national anthem “Beladi, Beladi” (our Lands, our lands). I could not sing my national anthem. It is not that I disbelieve in what “our lands” have become now, as much as I don’t see myself easily part of one “our lands”. I perhaps might belong to a few, or am composed of a few, but I can’t stand and sing the anthem of any of those. I genetically merit singing “La Marseillaise”, “Beladi, Beladi”, and at least two other anthems. But, I don’t see my nationhood seated comfortably in my genetic make-up anymore.

I needed to sing, I didn’t know what to sing when everybody else sang Beladi, Beladi. I needed to sing. I started sort of vibrating. Some very low-tone vibration, voiced out, that grew into a tearful moan, that repeated itself. I understood how a moan is generated from somewhere very deep in my body and mind.

Then they ran, they ran so far. We ran, we ran so far. I ran also. Because of anger, because of a few women who suddenly started screaming “Horreyya, Horreya” (Liberty, Liberty), and I ran to that sound of such a word, and I ran to the movement of a running crowd. We ran from Talaat Harb square to Midan Tahrir, running into a barricade of State Security officers, hundreds of soldiers, and a few huge cars hosing us down with water again. We ran into something violent, but it seemed ok. I learned about where running starts in my body. I starts close to my spine, in my throat sometimes.

This feeling is like the feeling of flying for the first time. Running so fast, into something scary, exhilarating, promising and very unsure of its results. It also feels like stepping from the wings and onto the stage, where my skin pores are as present as my eyes are.

In the microphone, some men screamed “Spread out, spread out everywhere, don’t let them capture us all in one place”. We dispersed. With a lot of tension between us, we dispersed all around Midan Tahrir, from the Br idge, by the Museum, and up to the “Mogamma” Building. Space was small. This square was small. We held it. I learned what it is to hold space, to make space. I learned the power of moving together. In me, I felt where togetherness could start sometimes, where the place of “connecting” to another person could be. Sometimes it was in the eyes, sometimes in the whispers or screams. But, most of the time it was desire. It was in attraction. And, perhaps in the space between self-survival instinct and making peace with the fear of pain and of being terminated.

Our dispersed population was then penetrated by the State security squads, and we ran into them again, and they retreated. The minute I pass a place where a state security officer stood, I would feel that I just ate a living human being. A violent exhilarating absorption of surrounding conditions into my body. I suddenly remembered how angry I was to have been stopped on the street many times by the “security officer s”. I was stopped because of the most absurd actions and behaviors. Today I remembered. I remembered I have been angry for a long time.

We stopped moving. We stood, and waited.
In the waiting it all came back to me. It is as if we, humans, know very few things! We know of living, of dying (somehow), of sacrifice, of passion. The scene looked very archaic; it was almost a prehistoric etching. A body carried around by a few people, lifted up high, in passion (whether it is anger, love to a country, hate, fear of pain, sadness…) this body was lifted, and tens thousands followed and moved. Screaming and moving were things we did. We sang, and we moved together.

Movement was sculpted by passion, and also by the duration of tear-gas bombs. When one was ejected, time was held by them. Once the gas subsided, time spread itself so fast sideways by the fast moving thousands of passionate bodies. Or maybe time was spread sideways by the movement. Time felt flat many t imes. Time was spread out sideways and became flat many times.

Climax, another one thing, of the few things we know, and of the few things we had today. Climaxes can sculpt emotions, can sculpt thoughts. Climaxes can make one believe something did just happen, when nothing happened, and everything is still suspended and on-going. Climaxes chop time into plausible segments of worry and endings. I learned about freeing time and passion from climaxes. I learned about making climaxes a tool to sculpt time and passion, and of sculpting comprehension of being placed in a certain activity/space. I learned about climax being a vortex, a transporter, a Deux Ex Machina that can reenact death in the most comforting ways, or the most seductive and libidinal arrested/suspended experience. I learned more about the word “During”.

I write this, and save it, and wait until I could send it, when the internet is working again.


1_ Mubarek resigned!!!!

February 12, 2011

2_ When I was flying off from Cairo on the 25th January, I was reading Asef Bayat’s “Life as Politics – How Ordinary People Change the Middle-East”, which is a great publication about the eventfulness of non-movement, the power of everyday life practices, of the streets, all temporary autonomous zones created by people within authoritarian regimes. And maybe it were these unregulated practices on the street and in various corners (together with facebook) that lead to the BIG movement I saw in full surprise upon landing in the Istanbul Airport screens.

3_ I saw the “arab shorts” film screening during the Transmediale Festival in Berlin last week. After Adham’s question “where does arabness reside”, I was curious, what about these films is so arab. Ala’ Younis, the curator of the screening, made a great introduction, putting exactly the arabness in question, and introducing the films and/or the makers as the ones that reside on border of arabness. Wonderful program, very inspiring films (, also very political by not portraying the “arab world” through the violence, conflicts and problems. But unforturnately ending with an audience member firing questions of relevance of these poetic, non-verbal, imagined images, in a time the arab world is actually on fire.

4_ Next day at Transmediale I saw a science-fiction about the future of Egypt, “2026” by Maha Maamoun ( Latest this should erase the question of urgent relevance of artistic practice and imagination NOW, shouldn’t it?



In the middle of translation: dispersed actualities, complicities, and critical moments.

January 25, 2011

On January 15th the choreographers and directors presenting at the 2 B Continued Festival met with the choreographers who study in the Amsterdam Masters of Choreography for a public conversation on the works in the festival. An entire line-up of 12 people joined the stage for this discussion mediated and translated from Arabic to English and vice versa by Adham Hafez.

Of the four works presented two were based on writings by Eugène Ionesco: ‘Frenzy for Two or More’, directed by Yousra El Sharkawy and ‘Amédée or How to Get Rid of It’, directed by Ahmed Shawky. Both texts are not so often performed as other more famous texts like Rhinoceros, the Lesson, the Chairs. ‘Why Ionesco’, therefor was the first question from innocent outsiders not aware of the popularity of his writing in Egyptian theatre practice. According to Ahmed Shawky, the post-war France that Ionesco describes resonates with current realities of contemporary Egypt. This was the night of the Tunisian uprising that was not mentioned in the discussion. In both works however, it is striking how Ionesco presents a couple, a man and a woman in a domestic environment, fighting and bitching each other, who gradually have to confront an unknown evil of the bigger outside world that is creeping up on them. In one work this world expresses itself through hand grenades dropping into the house through windows that are demolished one by one. In the other work, an undeterminable blast shrinks the size of the house and seems to choke the couple however much they resist by pulling on useless cords, not knowing what direction is best to prevent a total collapse.

The two choreographies also presented predicaments of people confronting realities with no easy way out. ‘Exit does not Exit’, choreographed by Shaymaa Shoukry, is a work that includes real time digital video, responding to the patterns of the dancers in the choreography, representing through dots and lines the relations they make in time. Later on, the figures of the dancers are distorted by cutting and mirroring their figures endlessly through video manipulations. Finally the dancers start shooting the audience, by pointing their fingers and making shooting sounds. Then at each other, in an endless stream of destructive gestures that seem never however to achieve complete annihilation. ‘Galatea’s Twilight’, choreographed by Maha El Maraghy is inspired on the Pygmalion story of the sculptor falling in love with the object he has created himself, and cannot let go of it to leave it to lead its own life. Maha El Maraghy was inspired to make this work about the inequalities between the sexes from female castration practices. She wrote a text for the work to wake up the man, to tell him to watch out, to see her for what she is, to start to listen. To no avail, by the end of the choreography, Galatea, the object of the sculptor’s work, demolishes the entire scenography, systematically, every object one by one.

The question was posed how the expression of rage, the desire for change, is translated in the choreography. What is it that offers chances for the spectator to change their mind, if one can achieve such an aim? Does it happen by representing the facts, as given knowledge? How do these affect the audience, how can they lead to new perceptions? Maha’s answer was that she chooses to generalise the story, to make it a story about the treatment of women in general, about regressive movements in society at large. But that there is no one-sided answer of feminist righteousness. In the end there is complicity, there is no solution without the other.

This lead to a subsequent question: how does one translate ideas into choreography? How does one confront the need to present ideas in different frames when communicating about one’s work? How does one capture ideas, identities, that emerge in artistic practice? Is it possible to capture a ‘semblance’, something abstract from the dancing to transport it to a higher power? Shaymaa said she is weary of seeking explanation of artistic work, of risking draining the work of its power. For Ahmed translation was quite literal themes, which lead him eventually to start learning French. His piece was translated anew into Egyptian Arabic instead of Classical Arabic which produced entirely new readings of Ionesco and the work itself. Maha stated that what was initially proposed for her work ended up completely transformed by the end of the process. Ideas keep being mobile in the creative process, in the middle of translation as it were, always in process.

Diego Gil posed a question about what he called the critical point. When does a work lead to a dead end. Like shooting the crowd. Like ruining the entire set. Then a critical moment is presented where the piece cannot go any further. Both works however chose to insist on this moment. Diego called it ‘shaking’ the idea until something might emerge that could break the rules of the composition. Perhaps creating new fault-lines of perception, in the middle of translation.
For a review of the works see:

Broadcast of the festival “2BContinued” from Cairo to Amsterdam

January 17, 2011

At the end it was just two of us. Doron and me.

It is so important to have at least one person to share experience with. One person is a whole universe.

And to talk to someone is much different then to think in yourself.

The Other is a key to develop yourself, your own ideas, your own story – but just because the story of the Other exists next to you. Because you can look in the Other and recognize yourself or understand the difference. Thomas Lehman once wrote that nothing can burn by itself.

The life, the power of change and growth, needs the Other. Solitude, isolation, separation, embargo, sanctions, those are killing the Life.

We turned off the light and relaxed on the floor. We listed each of 6 recordings twice.

At the end we talked.

I noticed there are 3 “now”. Now in which we are listening, now in which someone in Cairo is recording his/her report, now in which the piece that is described happen. The last two, the two different pasts came together in our now. Our now is recorded and happening now for you who will watch it. 4 now. Now as many times as listened or watched. A festival of Eternity.

To hear the voice recorded is so intimate sensation. Knowing the people who were recording it was even more intimate. Each of people recording, trying to be as much objective as possible, at the same time being completely personal. All in the effort of describing, released from themselves something else. Something that was giving much more information then watching a piece.

And watching a piece – imagining it – that asked for a lot of effort. Because the voice of people talking into recorder was much stronger event. We could hear voices in the background. And I was imagining the festival atmosphere in that moment, after the show.

Pere made a change and gave voice to Dirk, unknown to us, a German guy. Dirk was more talking as we all do after the shows. He said his opinion. Actually this helped me a lot to more specific imagine the piece.

Doron and me talked about different layers of information produced by voice, language, sounds, video, etc and their combination.

We will write more about whole event. This is just a small taste of it while you are still in Cairo.