Rah Eleh Saneie Rah is an Iranian-Canadian video, photo and performance artist. Rah has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including: Conseil Des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec Grant for Film (2015) and Digital Arts (2014), Studio Das Weisse Haus Residency (Vienna, 2014), Artslant Georgia Fee Residency (Paris, 2014), Ottawa Art Gallery Award of Excellence (2013) and the SAW Video Award (2012). Further, Rah was invited by the Williams College Museum of Art to create a performance in response to Diana Abu-Jaber’ s book, Crescent. She was also the only Iranian-Canadian artist in SAW Galleries Ciphers: Tension with Tradition in Contemporary Iranian Photography which was curated by PhD. Andrea D. Fitzpatrick and was a first-of-its-kind exhibition of Iran’s most critically acclaimed lens-based artists. In 2012, Rah’s video Eslah, 2012, was published in Art Journal, Vol. 8, a scholarly article written by PhD. Francine Dagenais and was published in Tehran, Iran. Rah is represented by Vtape, Canada’s leading artist-run distributor for video art.
Gabriella Gatalano is a dancer and a movement practitioner whose work investigates the relation between dance and musical, visual or linguistic scapes in the context of live performances. She has a contemporary and classic ballet background coming from her training at the international choreographic centre Opus Ballet (Florence, Italy). Subsequently she has continued her journey following and drowing inspiration from different techniques and methods
Last full days for all of us, between Koumaria Residency and Athens.
On Wednesday 5th, everybody is finalizing his or her productions and post-productions. The last online material is being uploaded. The residency is incredibly silent as never before. Anybody could guess why. Lunch is cooked at 16. For Eric, Alex, Manolis and Yorgos is now the turn to speak about the sequence of performances that will be presented on October 7th at the OCC show in Athens. During the late afternoon, the last trials take place: of Victoria’s video triggering, of Alex and Gabriella’s live coding poetry and Victoria’s door performance about hospitality and building a new home. The sunset is truly fantastic. The last episode of Show and Tell is definitely not the least: the order of performances is checked live, so to understand its flow and homogeneity.
So many discussions come in as the performances are shown. Are we ready for tomorrow? Are we ready to leave this wonderful and peaceful corner of the world? Are we ready for the chaotic Athens and its big white buildings?
Sleeping is not easy, lights are still on until late night. Red wine is over. Red passion, still vivid inside.
The last Koumaria’s alarm clock rings pretty early, so to close all the luggages and be ready to leave on time. At 10:30, the four cars are packed of stuff and people. After three hours of pleasant silences, small talks and infinite mountains, Athens come across us with unexpected violence. The arrival at OCC’s big squared marble building suggests that the trip somehow I coming to an end: the end of the more artistic-oriented approach, giving space to organization and structure… a more effective attitude towards the presentation of all residents’ works during the 10 days.
At the fourth floor of the OCC the installation space is set, while the performances are going to be presented in the fifth floor cinematic theatre. As soon as the rehearsals start, both on October 6th and 7th, the order of the performances as previously set is followed. The show is going to present 11 works, structured as follows:
- Video at the trashing floor with Victoria and Gabriella, shot by Pan Woo
- Live act of Live Sound Painting, by Akiko and Rasmus
- Live pulse feedback piece
- Video by Pan Woo, shot both during the visit at the Black Smith and at the cemetery
- Live act “At arms lenght” performed by Rah and Nadav
- Nadav’s video “Part Five” about the fatal march, reproduced during Dimitris’ double bass live performance
- Live coding poetry by Alex and Gabriella
- Video shot in the abandoned house, by Rah and Nadav
- Victoria’s piece about building a house, with Rasmus and Rah and Dimitris’ live music performance
- Light dress act, by Fawn, with Nadav and Gabriella as models
- Kleopatra’s video about a love story, with the participation of Ageliki and Rolando.
The rehearsals seem to be ready, even though some (usual and expected) troubles with sound and light occur. The last rehearsal leave everybody content, perhaps a little bit less worried. Until 18, all members and artists are going up and down. They laugh, after all.
Everybody is tired, carrying a lot of desperation but at the same time is extremely excited and inspired for what is about to come.
Rossella Salzillo (Intern)
Morning starts with the picture of Victoria and Rolando consulting, the latter giving tips and advices to the first, about her projects. All day is spent at home. Lunch is consumed at 16, in an atmosphere of drowsiness and mild, frivolous worry.
Tonight’s Show and Tell illustrates a broad picture of trailers – but first, everybody is invited to go up on the residency’s rooftop, situated on one of the two towers, where Raw and Nadav are going to perform. The audience is asked to sit all around the circular space, so to create sort of an atmosphere of energy. Strong, intense, shocking performance. Dressed both in black, Raw runs against Nadav more and more times. He stops her pushing with his hand open on her head. As she tries to fight, he continues stopping her. At the end she gives up and he kind of excels her.
Nevertheless they hug after the performance. Comments are shy and poor, since the action are enough to explicate.
The Show and Tell itself starts with the presentation of Rah and Nadav’s short movie in the abandoned house, where Raw is entering a place in contrast with the external scenario and seems to be trapped into it. The clip seems to be ready, just the audio mix has to be improved.
Dirar’s final version of the short movie at the beach is also showed. It reminds the arrival of refugees by boat during night. In fact, colors are predominantly in shades of blue. Also this clip is considered to be finished.
Victoria’s performance comes right afterwards. Everybody is invited to go outside of the main entrance door. Lights are set up. Rasmus and Nadav are taking three iron poles and build a sort of entrance (representing the door of a house) with them. Gabriella brings a white blanket. They perform some singing and spooky sounds. They physically go in through the door. Then, it is Rah to take the poles. They build another door all together, go also in through that. Every time they dismantle the door and build another one in another place. Nadav and Gabriella perform a dance, playing with the blanket. With two spiral iron pieces, they build what can be compared to knobs. The doubt arising is: should or should not it be a live performance? If merely documented and recorded, it would stay as a performance in within Koumaria Residency context. If it is going to be a live show, then a bit more energy of action should be added. Some special lights perhaps, or even wind. The performance itself should be stronger, even by staying simple. Minimalist aesthetics. The devil’s in the detail. Time issue is the main concern, though.
Concerning Fawn and Alex’s graphite sensor, there are some sound troubles.
Victoria also presents the video triggering trial with double bass, trombone and trumpet. The five commands triggered are: fire, river, sea, cemetery, rock. Audience is asked to push respectively five buttons, so to trigger the videos, connected with sensors to the computer system. The performance is three minutes long, but has to be fixed.
Opera seria, not opera buffa.
Live coding poetry, the modular poem built with Phyton commands corresponding to actions performed through dance, is the next trial. The sense of abstraction is stressed: the concept is to introduce more and more sounds so to produce “abstract” confusion. The idea is to produce commands and immediately execute commands, creating a kind of confusion with no rational sense. The live performance is planned to last 7-8 minutes.
Akiko and Rasmus’ improvements are then showed. Their work on the performance is finished. Ready. Perfect. It should be just more long lasting, at least 15 minutes long.
Fawn’s other project is performed afterwards: the light sensors thought for dancers to be worn, reacting to movement and waves. The light path is installed on a sweatshirt. Gabriella and Nadav dance in order to give a demonstration of the possible movements; in the meanwhile Guido, Dimitris and Eric improvise some music. What is still not perfectly working is the response of the light, which is in fact very slow.
Panos presents a video shot at the trashing floor. He has got a 1-minute movie, already great as a standalone, but in need to be completed. Kleopatra has shot a video in stop-motion, this morning at the graveyard, with Angeliki and Rolando. She has added in post-production the voices from all Koumaria Residency people, recorded last night.
Dirar’s video about memory is also ready, 6-minutes long, it only needs audio or perhaps the video can be reproduced in the same moment as live music performance.
by Rossella Salzillo (Intern)
Musician working in the field of experimental electronic music. Background in avant-garde music and classical guitar, he now explores timbre and form through electronic music programming and electronic music instrument building. His main focus is on the control boundaries using digital signals and on interactivity using various sensors.
Alarm at 9 a.m. There is a perfect windy sunny weather. Lucia goes shooting the final sunrise, the one that is going to be in the installation for the presentation of Koumaria Residency’s works. In the morning, Gabriella and Nadav dance for the second time at the abandoned car: their aim is to bring to life again an unused object. They would work at the editing until late night. Toi is video-triggering the videos she shot two days ago at the river and by a clay cave. In addition, she works with Panos at the editing of the shooting of the trashing floor performance. In the afternoon, the two would be followed by Dirar at the closest graveyard up on a hill in Sellasia. While Dirar is finalizing his short movie about memories and running, Panos and Toi follow their own cinematic paths and shoot two scenes in such a peculiar scenario.
In the meanwhile, Guido and Rolando come up with an idea related to the concept of diaspora: Guido would play a piece for saxophone, or even improvise, then Rolando’s answer would be literally “grazie e vaffanculo”. Playing with the concept of welcome and hospitality, in an innocent nervy Italian mood. Kleopatra and Rolando have an idea for tonight’s Show and Tell: everybody is given a few verses from a same long poem, and has to recite them without referring to the others’ content. Rolando is also managing to create a stop-motion shooting with Kleopatra, as actor. Although, by now, this is still only a concept.
In Sellasia, Nadav continues the video shooting around the theme of uncrossable borders. Gabriella, Rasmus, Akiko and Rah follow him. Before the third edition of Show and Tell, Rolando explains the rules of the poetry game. We start by saying the verses normally, and the individual is confused with the collective. The second level is to act in a certain way, with a certain tonality, no matter what we is specifically said. At the end, all together we confuse and mix bunches of words. Some highlights from Show and Tell: Panos’ film shot at Black Smith and at the graveyard, dealing with violence, escaping, being exhausted, shadows. Eduardo and Dirar’s last shooting’s update at the beach is also presented, kind of complete. Toi and her video-triggering is showed with the help of Alex’s technology: Arduino, which produces sensor inputs, and pure data that translate these sensors in videos.
by Rossella Salzillo (Intern)
Sunday is hangover, recovery from home-made red wine and tsipouro (traditional greek grappa). The celebrations for Eric’s birthday turned out to be an occasion for letting inhibitions go down. Dance and loud music have been the protagonists last night. Plus, Guido and Rolando have come in time for the dessert to be the new entries of the residency. They will help harmonizing it with intriguing rhythms and Italian jokes.
Nevertheless, at 9 in the morning a group of resident is ready to go shooting the piece thought by Nadav. The camera frame functions as limit beyond which participants cannot go. The group starts as a compact block and, as soon as one person peels off the group, he or she falls apart.
At 4, the dancers are driven to Sellasia city for a dance lesson with children. In the meanwhile, Akiko and Rasmus get prepared for their visual-music performance. It takes much to set the electronics and to connect the cables.
When the daylights are about to shut down, café Kanellopoulos in Sellasia gets ready to host two of the performances developed at Koumaria Residency in the past seven days: Akiko and Rasmus, with their alive sound painting, and Alex and Gabriella, with the live pulse feedback. The exceptional twist of the show is given by the improvised acoustic trio, trumpet-saxophone-double bass, played smoothly by Eric, Guido and Dimitris between the two live performances.
The atmosphere is cozy and familiar. The show takes place in the little garden of the café, where people sit on little tables in front of a projector and a double-desk structure. Many citizens come around, sit on a table and, between a glass of red wine and a pita, enjoy the two-hours-long show. The mood of the residents is of relaxed concentration. Most of all, they want to have a first external perception of their works, observing the reaction of the public and the degree of efforts needed in order to improve them.
by Rossella Salzillo (Intern)
Saturday at Koumaria, the second in a row. Seven days of ideas, projections, trials, shootings and rehearsals. Saturday of improvisation. Saturday of editing and audits. Eating, then eating again, having Greek coffee. Lucia wakes up very early for her daily sunrise shooting. This time, she makes the last test shoot before the real one, happening tomorrow. Nadav and Gabriella are out from 8 to 11 in the morning to go through their performance by an abandoned car. Later on, Toi and Gabriella work with Panos at the editing of the performance at the trashing floor. Dirar works on the editing of the video about memory and running, plus he starts building the concept for a short movie about national identity: he is trying to investigate the concept of the land, questioning who is the real owner of a land and where we can actually talk about identity related to a land today. In the afternoon Nadav, Rah, Rasmus, Gabriella and Toi are standing in circle in Koumaria’s garden, creating a concept for the performance on hospitality that Toi has in mind to do. We also shoot Lucia and then Dirar’s interviews, together with Alex and Eric’s.
Ah, and today is Eric’s birthday. That means, we are going to celebrate it with food and wine!
by Rossella Salzillo (Intern)
Eric Lewis is a professor of Philosophy at McGill University, whose research focuses on improvisatory art. He is the director of IPLAI, the McGill Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas, and a member of the executive committee of IICSI (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation). He is an active improviser on brass and electronics, art curator, and activist. Prof. Lewis has written widely on the politics, aesthetics and ontology of improvised art. He helps lead the AUMI consortium, dedicated to the creation of musical control surfaces for individuals with profound physical disabilities to allow them to improvise across borders of ability.
Eric plays an active role in Medea’s Koumaria residency, and plans and coordinates a semi-annual international conference, held at the OCC in Athens, in collaboration with Medea. He brings his experience in the coordination, development and implementation of complex events to Medea, and assists in developing international partnerships for Medea. He is also a member of the ISE, an electro-acoustic ensemble composed of Medea members. Focusing on brass extended techniques, Eric has performed internationally with the likes of Joe McPhee, Pauline Oliveros and Matana Roberts. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events world-wide, and leads assorted community-facing projects focusing on the potentials of improvisation to improve the health of communities.