[-empyre-] Vor dem Gesetz/Before the Law, hoveringly

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Thu Nov 20 09:30:29 EST 2014

[encryption 4.  from Hamed Taheri's play "Home is in Our Past"]

[via T. Kantor, the late Polish theatre director who in the 60s created his happenings and strange theatre of death, with poor objects degraded objects, and Old People (in "Dead Class"):  It is necessary to recover the primeval force of the shock taking place at the moment when, opposite a human (a spectator), there stood for the first time a human (an actor), deceptively similar to us, yet at the same time infinitely foreign, beyond the impassable barrier. ]

the enclosure, the tank, a pool filled with mud and dirty water, surrounded on three sides by the humans (spectators) in close intimate
range. A woman in a long black dress, wearing a head scarf, stands on a platform raised over a the rectangular tank, wearing 
the mourning dress or shroud, standing bent, very visible against a circle of white light projected onto
the wall behind. her body becomes animated by her own voice. no words.  sounds coming from her mouth. the vocal aria, 
makes the body tremble in rhythmic movement, and a flailing of gestures of her hands. the woman is searching for her voice. 
she wails, a cacophony of wails, ululations.  cracked sonics. 

then there is silence.

cracked media too?  though here (from loudspeakers) the voices, recorded, ordered, seem clear:  

antiphonal  exchanges between an invisible man and an invisible young woman. The first exchange enumerates the camps the
ghettos that have been created throughout world history. The man pronounces the name of each ghetto and the young woman responds by saying
"no" in a flat voice.

these recorded voices activates a male body dressed in rags submerged in the mud pool in, in the enclosure front of the humans (spectators). The
body in a corner begins to twist and gasp for air.....

The second recorded exchange brings forth the memories of Bulgarian, Russian, Armenian, Palestinian, Jewish, Turkish, and Indian immigrants: the
young woman's "no" pierces the air and reverberates in this "landscape" after each group of immigrants is named-

"The wretched of the earth. -No."




> (Polish critic Michal Kobialka suggests that Hamed's immigrant actors who play these roles are homo sacer, their lives stripped of rights by existing
political & juridical conditions.  I don't know who the actors are, the work was first performed in Tehran, 2003, and then in 2005-06 in Stuttgart, after Hamed
went into exile)

- - -

Thank you Monika for indeed very powerful and  considered reflections and comments on open wound and memory, on voice, sustenazo,  lamenting together, and for inviting us to listen to you
talk about "Sustenazo - Public Space and the Environment" on http://www.artisttalk.eu/monika-weiss-us/.    I looked at the images and will ask you more, later, about the stains, the  "pollution of public space";  thanks also to Murat and his fine elaborations of accented poetry, and Kafka's Nature Theatre of Oklahoma.   Christina, thanks  for telling us about your
legal pedagogies and painting; the educational side I shall come back to, tomorrow, as I wish to comment on jihadists and their learning.   Very early in the month, I asked James Barrett where he was writing from, when he said "The possibility of us in the Western World being annihilated by the despotic and brutal IS is questionable at best", and yesterday I compared Connecticut with Afghanistan and Iraq. These were not good questions, as I am writing in what appears to be a safe zone (west London), I feel no fear, I sleep at night, I cannot even fathom what Pia reported in her monitoring of human rights violations on West Bank.  Yet the question of teaching here, in a vastly diverse community of immigrant inter-generations, occupies me more immediately now, and I also wondered about the holographic  dance last weekend, so removed from everything. 

Johannes Birringer

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