PEFRORMANCE

 
Photo by Javier R. Sotres

Photo by Javier R. Sotres

Geologic Formations

The words fascia and fascism share an etymological root, the Latin word, fasces, which means, “bundle.”

Geologic Formations is a transdisciplinary audience-immersive performance work, in development. Melding intimate personal narrative, political theory, cognitive neuroscience, and documentary research, this work explores the, present-unseen: the ways in which large-scale socio-political events shape and haunt the site of the individual and collective body; and the ways in which the individual and collective body are at the centre of socio-political events. 

Geologic Formations begins inside creator mia susan amir’s lived experience of the present-unseen: the invisible pain associated with her disability, a condition impacting the fascia; and the invisibilized antecedents of her disability - her grandfather’s survival of the Nazi liquidation of the Jews of Białystok, Poland & the intergenerational impacts of genocide–fascism.

Using sound and projection design, embodiment, and a spatially-encompassing and transforming set, Geologic Formations crosses and collapses time and geography, to eventually turn toward the contemporary rise of fascism in Poland, the US, Israel, and Canada; approaching fascism as an embodied “realm of politics … [which deliberately replaces] reasoned debate with immediate sensual experience.” (O’Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, 17) The final act turns once more, toward the audience, and the present-unseen stories their bodies hold; the way these stories can be used to bind us together, and break us apart.

Geologic Formations has been developed with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the 2018 Banff Playwrights Lab. Geologic Formations has been presented as a main stage performance at 2018 rEvolver Theatre Festival, Vancouver, BC, and as a Theatre Lab presentation at the 2018 FestivALT, Kraków Poland.

In 2018-2019, with support of residencies with Boca del Lupo and What Lab, this work is being redeveloped into a piece for two interactive rooms, which audience members can fluidly move between; one for the live performance, and one in which live-feed of the performance, and immediate audience response can occur, in a sensory friendly environment.

Creative Collaborators: Laura June Albert, Alex Lazaridis Ferguson, Alexa Solveig Mardon, Lisa Prentice, Veronique West.

Official website: https://www.geologicformations.com/

 
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Obscura Lucida: The Land of My Body

A site-specific performance designed for and with the intertidal zone at Second Beach, Vancouver, BC, on the unceded and occupied territories of the x?m?θkw?y??m (Musqueam), Skwxwu?7mesh (Squamish), and S?l?i?lw?ta?/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

This performance was commissioned for the 2017 Vines Arts Festival, and co-created with Skwxwu7mesh/Sto:Lo/Metis/ Hawaiian/Swiss interdisciplinary artist, T‘uy’t’tanat - Cease Wyss.

The work included a soundscape which interwove prosaic narrative, traditional Skwxwu?7mesh stories of the area now called Stanley Park, and excerpts of interview in which Cease and mia explore chronic illness, the extractive projects currently threatening BC’s coastal ecosystems, and the physical and spiritual interrelationships that exist between the land of the body, and the body of the land.

Audience members were provided with MP3 players through which they experienced the soundscape. They were encouraged to move autonomously through the intertidal zone – the play space – interacting with the environment, as well as with Cease and mia, while they performed an improvisational movement score to the soundscape.

 
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Across the Salty Waters

Part verbatim, part fiction, Across the Salty Waters is an interdisciplinary immersive micro-performance for small audiences, combining storytelling, an original musical score, and improvised movement.

A violinist appears on a hill with her belongings, which have been destroyed by her journey across the ocean. Her father, whose violence she has fled, carries a city – all rubble, and cinder, and ash – as a deep yearning in his throat. Her arrival agitates uncomfortable memories among the locals. A witness arrives to piece her story back together, asking us to confront the “untouchable solitude of the foreigner,” (Kundera) forever relegated to an ahistorical condition, read and misconstrued through the codes of their new homes, codes that cannot conceive of them.

Across the Salty Waters, was first developed at the 2016 Feminist Art Conference Residency at Artscape, Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island, ON. It was presented as a work-in-progress at the Feminist Art Conference in Toronto/Tkaronto, ON, 2017.

 
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Transmissions: Bodies/Echoes/Ash

“I’ve been researching what in Jewish folk tradition is called the Dybbuk. Defined in the folklore as “a malicious possessing spirit” (1), the Dybbuk is condemned to restlessly seek refuge from the “limbo [of] wandering between the two worlds. Taking up residence in the body of a living person is said to give the Dybbuk the “opportunity to be purified, […] to gain access to the world of the dead,” to rest. (2)

Now, I’m not so convinced that the Dybbuk itself is malicious. Instead I believe the Dybbuk is a spirit that is unable to move on because something in the duration of its human embodiment was left undone, in disrepair, broken. The word Dybbuk comes from a Hebrew word which means “the act of sticking,” from the root: to cling. (3) So this spirit clings to the body of a living person, to perform the thing that was left undone, to repair the thing that was left broken, and it can’t move on, it can’t move on, until that act of repair occurs.

Now, it seems to me, that instead of pointing to its own malign nature, the Dybbuk, in possessing a person, is desperate to indicate to us the brokenness of our world; it seeks engagement with historic failures that continue to render consequences in the present. While those failures may be individual, individuals rarely act outside of their context, so the root of those failures – that brokenness that the Dybbuk points to – is then communal.

And because we are so saturated in the brokenness, it takes sometimes extreme acts of communication for the Dybbuk to get through to us.” (Excerpt from Transmissions)

Transmissions:Bodies/Echoes/Ash is a micro-performance, and performative public ritual merging improvised embodiment, projection, and an original score, using memory, documented history, Jewish folklore, and the imagination, to reassemble family stories. Transmissions traces the Dybbuk of geographic displacement and genocide through an intimate exploration of amir’s mother’s death due to addictions and untreated cancer. In parallel this work is a meditation on the intergenerational transfer of creative practice as a tool for enacting survival and self-determination in a world that demands we hold together brutal contradictions; to address the unthinkable world survivors are left to reconcile with.

Created while mia was in residency at the Grin City Collective, Grinnell, Iowa, this work has been presented at Rurally Good Festival, Grinnell, IA, 2015; The Allied Media Conference, Detroit, MI, 2015; the Transformative Language Arts Network Conference, Unity Village, Kansas City, MO, 2015; Cohering Faults, Red Gate Art Society, Vancouver, BC, 2016; LMDA Annual Conference, Berkeley, CA, 2017.

Sources
(
1) Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dybbuk
(2) Goldish, Matt, Spirit Possession in Judaism, p. 43. Wayne State University Press. 2003.
(3) Wkkipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dybbuk

 
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The Map to Zochrot

Intensely personal, The Map to Zochrot was written during and following amir's return to Israel/Occupied Palestine in 2007, spurred by Israel's 33 day war on Lebanon in 2006, which caused immeasurable damage to Lebanese state infrastructure and displaced more than 1 million Lebanese residents. The Map to Zochrot documents amir’s wrestle with loyalty and betrayal as they relate to family and "nation", identity, history, Zionism, the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Nakba/Catastrophe. The work is populated with stories of contradiction, and stories of resistance gathered by amir through her time with Israeli family members, and activists engaged in the difficult work for a just solution in the region.

This work was developed through an artistic residency at Neworld Theatre funded by the City of Vancouver’s Diversity Initiatives. It has ben mounted twice as a staged reading: Beaumont Studios, Vancouver, 2008, under the direction of Marcus Youssef; Sista’hood Festival, Havana Theatre, Vancouver, 2009, under the dramaturgical mentorship of Carmen Aguirre.