Monday, March 25, 2013

TAHRIR: An interactive performance

This Thursday, March 28, the Mattress Factory will host an interactive performance art piece, TAHRIR, written by artist L.M. Bogad, performed by Bogad and Tavia La Follette, and designed by Michelle Carello.

La Follette co-curated an exhibition, Sites of Passage, at the Mattress Factory in 2011. That exhibition was part of an ongoing project and larger mission to establish more connections between countries and cultures. Sites of Passage focused specifically on the Egyptian revolution. Larry said they chose to focus on Egypt because it is “the most compelling example of an ongoing revolution happening now. The events in Egypt can prompt us to ask larger questions like ‘how can people create a revolution for equality and justice, and can they sustain it in the face of the inevitable elitist reaction, fundamentalism, and militarism?’”

Bogad did an interactive performance, WELCOME TO OUR REVOLUTION: Testimony from Tahrir, as a part of Sites of Passage. WELCOME TO OUR REVOLUTION playfully explored seeing the revolution in action, since Bogad and La Follette were in Cairo working with artists there during the revolution in 2011.

This new piece, simply called TAHRIR, reflects on what has transpired since then with the Egyptian revolution, particularly on the currently grim state of affairs in Cairo, where protesters have been brutalized by the police and fundamentalist militias, and the ongoing popular uprisings in Port Said and other Suez Canal cities.

As with the other artworks in the Mattress Factory, TAHRIR is a site-specific piece. The piece will begin at dusk (7:41 p.m. to be precise), with a Ritual to Prevent the Sunset. The start time was specifically chosen because it can serve as a metaphor for the current, waning state of the revolution, as well as a last-ditch attempt to preserve its values and momentum. It’s important that the audience participates in this ritual because, “everyone who is involved will be equally responsible for stopping the sun or not. Trying to sustain a revolutionary spirit in the face of resistance can sometimes feel as difficult as trying to stop the setting sun, or holding back the sea with your hands,” explained Bogad.  “If the artists and audience do not make astronomical history by stopping the sunset, the performance will continue in the darkness just as the struggle must continue in the darkness.”

The audience will also participate in “Economusic,” a concept Bogad invented and has performed in New York, Helsinki, and Sao Paulo, in which he creates music out of economic data. Bogad expressed that while these actions may seem absurd, they can create an understanding through personal experience.  “Performance is a way not just of showing, but also of knowing.  You can better understand an issue through performing it, experiencing it, as opposed to simply spectating.”

The artists and the audience will move inside and outside of the museum in the search for hope for the revolution.

The performance is Thursday, March 28 at 7:41 p.m. Tickets ($20 general admission/$15 members/$10 students) can be purchased by calling (412) 231-3169 ext 213 or by e-mailing Pre-registration is recommended as space is limited.

--Posted by Danielle, Education Intern

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