During the past decades, concepts such as ”Avantgarde” or ”experimental” have almost vanished as definitions of work within international performing arts. They are simply viewed as fit for a modernist context. In their place another term has arisen: ”Contemporary”. This term is used today sweepingly to include ”any piece translating a personal vision of the world right now”.
how can we, as a collective, approach the task of describing our contemporary? Even though we are aware of the difficulties in describing something which occurs while we are experiencing it, we still believe this ambition to be of relevance. Important ideological (such as class), political (such as leftist) and geographical (such as Iraq and so on) units are changing before our very eyes. The western culture relies more and more on ”poststructuralism” and turns down any attempt to search for ”meaning” or ”underlying principles”. Instead we live as individuals caught in the spotlight of attention, always exposed to gazes, impressions, surveillance and judgement. At the same time the world faces overwhelming crises impossible to solve without said ”meaning” or ”underlying principles”.
The project uses these thoughts as it´s point of departure in an attempt to describe those historical, philosophical, political and economical currents which shape that which we generally refer to as ”contemporary” and specifically ”contemporary performing arts”.
Can theatre provide an antidote beyond cliches such as ”theatre is important and fantastic?” What does it mean to relate in a contemporary way to the audience? Are there any common denominators which can define a ”we” that theatre will able to communicate with?
Beyond the Binaries: A Seminar on the contested terms of “Modernism” and “Contemporaneity” in Performing Arts across Contexts
20th of April 2015 & 8th of June 2015
While in the West terms such as, “Modernism” or “Contemporary” seem to evoke a certain historical trajectory and a specific accumulation of historical events and artefacts, in the Middle East and the Arab-speaking world, the terms evoke different experiences, and in many cases almost used interchangeably. There can be no argument as to the fact that Arab-speaking world was integrated into the international system (1840-1990) in many ways and in many forms, whether through colonialism, war, the mandate system, zones of influence, the two World Wars, the Cold War, and so on. The political and economic integration of the Arab-speaking world into the international system, sometimes forcibly, does not necessarily mean that Arab states and societies wholeheartedly embraced or experienced “Modernism” or “Contemporaneity” at the same time as the West or even the same way.
One of the earliest artistic practices to be ushered into the era of “Modernism” was performing arts. As early as 1869 Yaqub Sanu staged the first prototype of theatrical “revue” inaugurating the first staged performance on a Western-style stage and within the modern notion of a theatre setting in Cairo. And since then theatre has undergone drastic changes in relation to the state (from the state being a patron, to the state being sole producer to the state being an antagonist), which created different experiences on what performance means across time. The rise of neoliberalism and the atrophy of the state as the architect and producer of artistic and cultural practices, parallel to the fundamental changes brought to societies through globalism and capitalist infiltration created a vacuum that raised fundamental questions on what it means to stage performance, here and now, and what constitutes “contemporaneity” for performing arts.
Through dialogue with Swedish partners on the different experiences of the concepts of “modernity” and “contemporaneity” for performing arts, the seminar seeks to show and contrast how these experiences created different or similar realities and how can we envision a future for performing arts at time of unpredictable and fragment political and social reality.
moderated by: ismail fayed (writer researcher)
Doaa Aly (visual artist)
Gabo Camnitzer ( artist and teacher)
Jeuno JE Kim (artist and teacher)
Mona Gamil (new media artist and contemporary dancer)
The Netherlands Flemish Institute Cairo NVIC
1 Dr Mahmoud Azmy st,
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt
Götaplatsen 3, 402 29 Göteborg, Sweden
Aunty Safety’s Practical Guide to Safe Art Practice (a.k.a. the SAP Guide)
9th of june 2015
-Do you know what it feels like to be unsafe while making art?
-Have you ever felt lost in the dark valleys of your imagination?
If the answer is yes to one or more of these questions, then look no further than the SAP Guide!
This tongue-in-cheek motivational talk introduces the new and exclusive SAFE ART PRACTICE GUIDE, brought to you by self-professed Safe Art Practitioner (or SAP for short) Mona Gamil. Sit back and relax as Mona takes you through s series of steps and strategies that you can begin to incorporate into your life TODAY and every day in order to SAP UP your art practice, making it safer, stronger, and more successful.
Length: 20 minutes
Format: Powerpoint presentation
Götaplatsen 3, 402 29 Göteborg, Sweden
BEFORE THE TEXT – a workshop with Anders Paulin and Johan Forsman
22nd of April 2015
The workshop day at Jesuit Cultural Center is divided in two parts: 1) Before the Text / Listening 2) Working session
The first part question the production of mimesis and identity as central objectives in the toolbox of performing arts. We also look at various strategies to work with alternative instruments, built on an apparatus more aiming for interfaces than representations. After this we will do a collective reading of some excerpts from Listening by Jean-Luc Nancy.
In the second part we will initiate a collective working session, develop a protocol for producing, sharing and listening to material produced by personal experiences.
The Jesuit Cultural Center
15 El Mahrany St.
Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
THREE WHITE SOLDIERS
The Material of the Immaterial
23rd of April 2015
Three White Soldiers is an archive of stories, collected by Anders Paulin and Johan Forsman during a number of pilgrimages following the material as well as virtual landscape of contemporary economy.
The performance departs from high frequency trading, a financial phenomenon where computers are using algorithms to make transactions on the stock market in velocities challenging our concepts of time and space. From this perspective Anders and Johan have studied the relations between material and immaterial values, various ”time-spaces” operating beyond the human perception, and the use of patterns and images to visualize worlds and events impenetrable to the human horizon
Three White Soldiers is neither a critique nor capitulation towards the networking super speed of contemporary economy, rather an attempt to travel along its patterns and linguistic figures: A journey accompanied by the fetishes of the financial market, cowboys, algo-spoofers, astronauts and japanese rice traders.
3 Hussein El Memar st.