Songs & Borders
Being a son of immigrants, I am still ﬁguring out what it means to be Israeli. I am not exceptionally different in my multi-identity, and neither is Israel. The issue of identity has been the issue of the twentieth century. Israel is a tiny country. However, understanding its complex narrative and diverse inhabitants takes more than a lifetime. It is a land with no man's land agenda. Borders made on the map around a round European table soon became mental boundaries between communities, families, and individuals. In Songs and Borders, my main interest is people and their speciﬁc self-identity and genealogy. When individuals and communities are 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. Therefore, I have been working in the country's north for the last year, researching historical narratives and political situations and observing how these are embedded and expressed. 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 diverse communities that share the same space. We ask to challenge and redeﬁne structures and concepts of borders, borders between different communities, within communities, and within ourselves. We ask to address the concerns of identity and the archetypal ﬁgure of the human form through the guise of geographical, social, and political events. To create and inhabit a space that lends itself to individual expression within a communal creation.
Photo: Rony Bitton
The North of Israel is home to disparate Ethnic and religious communities: Palestinian Muslims (Sunni), Lebanese Maronite Christians, Arameans, Syrian Druze, Circassians, Bedouins, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi Jews. These populations exist in a common geographical space but a reality of multiple narratives, tension, and mental boundaries. Songs and Borders involves six voices who represent their different local folkways. The work traces various aspects of movement and human expression, gradually unraveling the unique layers and narratives carried and expressed through the lived body. Each woman embodies her personal story and reﬂects on her culture. We consider/question our points of view and sense of belonging through text in local dialects, physical expression, singing, and visual arts actions. Together, we learn how knowledge is produced and disseminated and challenge their individual and collective boundaries. We examine narratives that differ in their political landscape but share human urgency and agency. We ask how to share speciﬁc mutual historical events that vary in their meaning and try to ﬁgure out our connection to the fallen, the land, loyalty, war, and peace. My artistic agenda was to work with non-professionals. Only there can we get closer to the truth about the place and life. I chose to work with women as they are the silent guardians of the tribe, mercifully carrying the next generation and working to change the fate of their children. The interdisciplinary work includes contemporary composition, choreography, storytelling, video, and audio documentation with ethnographic and ethnomusicology research. The process and the resulting work will allow for a melting pot of cultures, languages, and mediums, from which a new cultural/social understanding will be forged.
Our bodies are deﬁned and margined by the boundaries of our skin, within the limits of our thoughts. Within the lines of clothing, edges of walls, houses, neighborhoods, 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. The project seeks to give voice to various forms of thought within the country's northern borders, learn, listen, think, and challenge boundaries.
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 be cultural, political, or 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 for human expression. Different corporal aesthetics, rhythms, iconographies, texts, and songs reﬂect the tradition and daily life of diverse cultures in northern Israel. Where are memories in the body? What is the politics of the gaze on the female body in the various cultures? How do different cultures perceive the place of the body in their narrative? What is the physical expression of human joy, awakening, sorrow, and grief in other cultures?
At moments of great distress or joy, people reach out to ﬁnd something bigger than themselves, to bring them beyond 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 inward. A person can express the most intimate relationship to existence through these deeds, channel trust, doubts, awe and love, acceptance, and protest. 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 inﬂuenced but not entirely determined by social power relations. From acting to soccer, martial arts to ballet, battling to lovemaking, the development of new embodied techniques continually demands new mappings and understandings of the body. Every method has roots in the human body—our capacities for rhythm, speech, vocalization, movement, empathy, imagination, and more.