Songs & Borders
An international Collaboration Project between Michael Getman ( IL ), The Neue Vocal- solisten ( GER) and Prof Dr Daniel Peter Biro (N)
Songs & Borders brings together artists, intellectuals, and community members from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds from Israel, Germany, and Norway. It wishes to expand people's personal and communal practice.
In a time when both individuals and communities, experiencing a growing disconnection, Songs& Borders asks to address these issues by bringing us closer to ourselves, our identity, tradition, surroundings and nature, our beliefs, aspirations, and each other. Through a careful process of identity exploration, we welcome the human body and dreams, a shared space full of stories, rituals, tensions, wounds, and hope. We ask to listen, understand, and embody different narratives without fear of losing our own by giving a voice to different communities who share the same space. We ask to challenge and redefine structures and concepts of borders, borders between different communities, within communities, within ourselves. We ask to address the concerns of identity, and the archetypal figure of the human form, through the guise of geo- graphical, social, and political events. To create and inhabit a space that lends itself to individual expression within a communal creation.
Songs &Borders encourages a melting-pot of cultures, languages, and mediums, out of which, hopefully, a new cul- tural and social understanding will be forged.
The Galilee, the Finger of the Galilee, the Hula Valley, and the Golan Heights are home to different ethnic communities:
Sunni Muslims, Christian Arabs, Syrian Druze, Bedouin, Circassians, Arameans Maronites, Ashkenazi Jews, and
Sephardic. Coexisting within a world of political tension and conflict, these neighboring communities interact only at a distance. The tension and underlying estrangement is a dominating facet of everyday life in the region. Songs & Borders revolves around the act of prayer as a form of communication that transcends cultural limitations but at the same time maintains uniqueness using different physical techniques and customs. The project aims to host and assist in socio-cultural dialogue, seeking to learn how knowledge is produced and disseminated within and between communities and populations. Through the lens of culturally unique forms, each will tell a story that touches upon ethnic and political identities, spatial belonging, heritage, traditions, and innovations, namely, the boundaries that define and separate the communities as people but are nonetheless common to humanity. Elected representative women (nonprofessional performers) will represent each local culture, and thus, each representative will embody her personal story. These issues constitute boundaries that define and separate communities but are nevertheless common to humanity. The Neue Vocalsolisten will be interacting as performers on stage, forming a sort of “Greek chorus” that follows and comments on the happening on stage. Their presence allows the audience to reflect deeper on what they see and offers a conceptual layer within the overall dramaturgy of the piece. The work includes contemporary composition, choreography, storytelling, video, and audio documentation with ethnographic and ethnomusicology research. The interdisciplinary project obtained alongside field research will enable a melting pot of cultures, languages, and mediums to construct a stage work.
By focusing on prayer – a form of communication that transcends cultural limitations and yet is culturally specific in its bodily techniques and practices – the current project seeks to facilitate a new socio-cultural dialogue. It asks to study the ways in which knowledge is produced and circulated within and between societies and communities. Within the project, each local tradition will be represented by a given community member. Through the lens of culturally unique forms of liturgy, each person will tell a story that touches upon ethnic and political identities, spatial belonging, ethics, heritage, traditions and innovations, namely, the boundaries that define and separate the communities as people but are nonetheless common to humanity. Combining contemporary composition, choreography, storytelling, video and audio documentation with historical, ethnographic and ethnomusicology research, the resulting interdisciplinary work and accompanying field school will allow for a melting-pot of cultures, languages and mediums, out of which, hopefully, a new cultural and social understanding will be forged.
While culturally specific in form, prayer is a broadly human action, a primal cry of the heart. One could find prayer as a form (technique) of knowledge that travels across time and space in ways deeply influ- enced but not entirely determined by social power relations. From acting to soccer, from martial arts to ballet, from battling to lovemaking, the development of new embodied techniques continually demands new mappings and un- derstandings of the body. Every technique has its roots in the human body—our capacities for rhythm, speech, vocalization, movement, empathy, imagination, and vastly more.
At moments of great distress or joy, people reach out to find something bigger than themselves, to bring them be- yond the current moment into a timeless experience. This urge often takes the form of a prayer. When praying, a person faces the world by connecting with oneself, thus understanding something significant about the nature of being. It is an act of moral and conceptual introspection, allowing time to slow down and attention to flow inwards. A person can express the most intimate relationship to existence through these deeds, channel trust, doubts, awe and love, acceptance, and protest.
Our bodies are defined and margined by the boundaries of our skin, within the limits of our thought. Within the lines of clothing, edges of walls, houses, neighbourhoods, cities, countries. From one point of view, borders are marked lines in the ground and define political, social, and economic activities. From another perspective, boundaries are mental objects of dominant discursive processes that have led to the fencing and separation of space and people from each other. External forces - imperial authorities and international organizations divided the Middle East after the First World War.
The discussions took place around a round European table, far from the living area and without any connection to the ethnosociological mosaic that has maintained an internal, fragile, and delicate balance for centuries.
The project seeks to give voice to various forms of thought within the country's northern borders, learn, listen, think, and even challenge boundaries. The project deals with the old and the new.
A body can think. A body can disassemble. Can bend point of view. Resonate. Can listen and ask. It can be perfect in its imperfection. A body can travel in time. A body can be cultural, political, personal. It could be a rock. Can tell a story, be tagged, pray to the wall, be hurt. A body Can sing an old song.
The project will trace and embody the various aspects of movements and techniques as tools to human expression. Different corporal aesthetics, rhythms, iconographies, texts, and songs reflect the tradition and daily life of diverse cultures in northern Israel. What is the physical expression of human joy and awakening, sorrow and grief in different cultures? What is the politics of the gaze on the female body in the various cultures? On what common ground can it be said that other physical disciplines intersect like Muslim prayer with Hora dancing? Or the Druze blessing of peace and the Christian custom of crucifixion? How do different cultures perceive the place of the body in their narrative? What are the boundaries of our identity?
Michael (Misha) Getman