Who is your Other, dude(ss)? – Amsterdam ghost events

Schedule and contents:

1. event: Workshop by Canadian choreographer Benoit Lachambre (via stream or video)

Time and space: 3-6.1.2011. at 10-17h in studio 4.06 in Theaterschool in Amsterdam (Cairo time 11-18h)

Content (ideas and questions):

Four days during Seminar n. 2 in study year 2010/11, AMCh students will participate in a workshop by the Canadian choreographer Benoit Lachambre. The seminar, including this workshop will take place in Cairo. Parallel to that event, one of the AMCh students, Branka Zgonjanin, will be staying in Amsterdam, because she is pregnant and can’t travel in this period. She will participate in the same workshop from Amsterdam, together with other interested participants. This transfer of information will occur through the use of Skype services, school utilities in Amsterdam and conditions in Cairo where the workshop is happening. Apart from the functional aspects of this “transfer of information” for the student that was not able to travel to Cairo and the opening of a possibility to participate in Lachambre’s workshop for the other curious individuals, there are some questions that will be raised by this activity. For example:

How do we participate in a physical workshop when we are 3278.05 km apart from each other?

How does the physical body translate into a virtual body and then again to the physical body and then again to a virtual body, and then again to the physical body?

What aspects of physicality is it possible to share on a such a long-distance relationship?

Which information gets to be translated and which doesn’t? Why?

What is the specific quality of presence being in Cairo or being in Amsterdam while taking this workshop?

What defines a presence? Am I present in Cairo while Skyped and tuned to follow the same content?

What do I imagine, what do I really see?

These, and probably many other questions, will be addressed during the realization of the workshop, but also later during the day they will be posted on this seminar blog where all the participants can share their experiences and questions. Also, every evening there will be a small video-report uploaded on this blog by Branka Zgonjanin. The video report will last 10 minutes and will serve as an “atmosphere indicator” for those who are in Cairo, in order to show them the other side of the communication/exchange channel happening between the Cairo and Amsterdam groups. This video has set as an aim to serve as a reflection tool, and to (re)present “the Other” of what will be shared in the Cairo workshop.

The Amsterdam event is a ghost of the Cairo event, a double body.

Through their activities both groups are creating this body. Also, they are both able to observe it and to think it. The thinking process of this “ghostness” and this “doubleness” is not only interesting by itself as a phenomena, but also in relation to the content of the Cairo seminar. During the Cairo seminar AMCh students are offered an extraordinary and generous experience of the Other (Cairo, Egypt, non-Western-Europe). They are also offered with proper literature (thinking frame) to follow, understand, better understand, this phenomena. We will read Said’s famous “Orientalism”. The reality of the visit to Cairo, together with staying in Amsterdam, by the nature of the event (which can be seen as – original (center) moves to Cairo, the copy (periphery) stays in Amsterdam) – the question of the Other is again stretched out and put in focus.

Is the Other only a question of the (pro)positions in space and time?

And what is the relationship between these (pro)positions and the definitions of the center and the periphery and their legitimization (by the force of the stronger one, or by the force of one’s stronger definition)?

2. event: AMCh seminar update sessions – Branka Zgonjanin

Time and space: 8.1.2011. at 18-20.30h in studio 4.06 in Theaterschool in Amsterdam (Cairo time 19-21.30h)


This event will be a regular seminar update by one of the AMCh students. These updates are usually presented only in front of the AMCh students, mentors and core staff, but now Branka Zgonjanin would like to share her update with a broader audience. Her research and making practice in the past months were actively converging, therefore some phases of the research can be seen as artworks, while some of her future products strive to keep a certain “brokeness” while being whole. These events by themselves ask for an audience. The other reason to broaden the audience for her update lies in her interest to initiate exchange and sharing of research and making practices between her collaborators but also fellow-students and artists in Amsterdam and elsewhere. The update will also be live-streamed to the Cairo group.

Schedule of events:

1. performance “Update”

2. talk about the performance “Update”

3. broader update on the research project during 2009-10 study period

3. event:BODY BOOK” – interviews

Time and space: 12-13.1.2011. at 18-20h in studio 4.06 in Theaterschool in Amsterdam (Cairo time 19-21h)

Content (ideas and questions):

Interviews with one artist and one priest on the subject matter BODY. These interviews are related to Branka’s project, object-book, under the title BODY BOOK. The interviews will be part of the research, but not necessarily of the book itself. They are parts of the process that I want to exhibit while I am doing it. The idea is to open the process, in its fragility and state of becoming, for the broader audience. Actually, to frame it during different steps of its development. The framing makes the process more visible and better presents the decision making process as an artistic practice. Also it gives insight in to the history of the making of an object that will later perform itself, without other means of (re)presentation (the book will be exhibited without the agency of a choreographer/performer).

The interviews are investigating very diverse perspectives on the Body. I am interested in people who have different vocations that define the body in different, maybe, for a daily life, extreme ways (e.g. prostitutes, professional solders, formula-racers, etc) and in artists who are creating different bodies, that wouldn’t exist without their agency (creation). Artists who create such specific bodies that intrigue me – how did they make it? How do they see it? Where do these bodies come from? Where are they going (the future of the art practice of the specific artist)?

The most direct connection between these interviews and the Cairo seminar is in a general desire that these interviews will deal with the Other, that they will try to really experience and understand the Other and to create a space for the affirmation of the Other. In that sense these interviews are brave to state that the Other is not the one far away, but the one that is here, next to me. And that sometimes the closer we are the more distant we stay if we don’t act. The latter statement talks, maybe, more about the Dutch society then in general, and this is something to have a look at, too.

4. event: Broadcast of the festival “2BContinued” in Cairo and cultural tourism travel to Alexandria

Time and space: 15-16.1.2011. from 14-16h in studio 4.06 in Theaterschool in Amsterdam (Cairo time 15-17h)

Content (ideas and questions):

During the seminar in Cairo, AMCh students and staff will also visit Alexandria, the Alexandria Opera House, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Greek/Roman Alexandria, ACAF Centre and they will attend the new Opera production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute”. After these visits, they will return to Cairo to follow the “2BContinued Festival”. During these visits the students will be asked by their fellow-student Branka Zgonjanin to emphasize closer observation of the things they see. Every day different people will be in charge of the closer observations. At the end of the day, they will create short reports on what they have seen. The reports will be audio reports. Each person can chose if s/he wants to make a choice of photo postcards in addition to audio recordings. In the evenings the materials will be posted on the AMCh blog. The report should be made in a descriptive manner. That means that people in Cairo should try to describe what they have seen as if they are seeing it right now (in the moment when the people in Amsterdam are listening to the audio). E.g. “I am climbing the stairs, the stairs are 20 meters long, on the left side I see a sculpture, it is made of clay, the clay is colored green, etc.” These recordings can also be made on the spot, and later edited in a shorter report form. Descriptions should be as precise as possible. This is an exercise in observation, but also a practice of empathy – because the people in Cairo will know that this material will serve for the visualization and understanding of what happens in Alexandria and Cairo for the people in Amsterdam (who can’t see what they are seeing). People in Cairo will be the eyes and bodies of the people in Amsterdam. The people in Cairo can also include personal sensations in their descriptions – e.g. “I am entering the room, I feel cold air on my neck, the air is moving and making me feel weightless, etc”. The same process should happen with the pieces that will be shown in the festival in Cairo.

For two days in studio 4.06 in Theaterschool, people will gather to listen to (and watch) the reports (recordings, documentation from Alexandria and Cairo). After one hour of listening participants will move to the discussion: What did they imagine? What did they feel? Could they travel to Alexandria and Cairo through these recordings? How would they now tell somebody else, who wasn’t in Cairo, what they have seen in Egypt? (this will be recorded and posted on the blog, too). After talks based only on the exchange of what they have experienced, participants will move into analysis of the content of this “broadcast”.

Is it possible to transmit events through story-telling (a description based in the time of “now”)? Which elements of the events can be transmitted and which are impossible to transmit? What is it important to transmit? Through what kind of translation do these events have to go, in order for them to be understandable for the other, who is not in Egypt at that moment but in Holland? What is important to describe – climate (in that moment in Egypt there will be a European spring, while in Holland – cold winter), the way people are dressed, the way they talk, the architecture, the performance/theater space, if there is a specific stile of Egyptian performing, the reactions of the audience, the setting, etc?

What is important, what is not important and how do we decide this?

How can/will people based in Western Europe (but maybe not all of them European) understand, sense, feel, the specific context of the Egyptian dance festival and the pieces that will be shown there – if their only source of information is the descriptions by others who are there at that moment?

How can/will the people who are moving and working mainly in Western Europe, now visiting Cairo, describe what they have seen?

And especially, how can/will they put these experiences into words, into language, into the English language, in a concise report style?

Through time many other questions will pop up. Participants in Amsterdam will try to come to a productive discussion on the subject of: (cultural) translation(s); modern communications; knowledge we have, knowledge we assume to have and knowledge that we miss; production of knowledge through artistic interventions into ordinary situations (people traveling to a far away country and going to see the festival); and especially – how does the body of Egyptian contemporary dance translate through the bodies of the Western-European contemporary dance authors into a documentary audio and Internet form?


Please note that the planning of time is not guaranteed because of the possible difficulties of Skype connection. If you want to take participation please send your name and contact details (to: iskrabela(at)gmail.com) two days in advance to the proposed time of the event(s) you are interested to participate in. As soon as situation is familiar to us, you will be updated with more precise schedule.



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