"A-Genre" Festival: Themes range from the personal to the political
By SUZANNE SELENGUT
Tmuna, a Tel Aviv space known for its creativity and daring, will host a typically edgy weekend event devoted to contemporary performance art.
The two-day event, entitled A-Genre, will feature four separate performances that stretch the boundaries of their art forms, bringing together elements of dance, theater, sound and visual art in an attempt to craft a new artistic vocabulary.
What emerges from these hybrid performances, says creative director Yair Vardi, is "a breakthrough that may lead to a whole new creative language."
Vardi says the event has an electricity that can't be explained. "You just have to be there and see them do it," he says.
Performing their acts in quick succession, the artists will be based in various parts of Tmuna's space, some on traditional stages and others in unlikely spots, such as an empty parking lot or a kitchenette. The audience, taking active part in the event, will move independently to each of the locations.
The four pieces include the work of both Israeli and international artists and range in theme from the personal to the political. As one would expect of a genre-breaking performance, sometimes the meaning of the work seems truly open-ended, leaving a lot of freedom to the viewer.
In "I Want to Ask for Forgiveness," artistic duo Elite Criz and Anton Mirto of the London-based performance art group A-2 say they're sorry as they occupy the cramped kitchenette of a Tmuna recital hall. While one sits atop the door, swinging, the other crouches in the sink. Meanwhile, the audience listens to a CD recording of the voices of diverse peoples confessing and asking for forgiveness.
"It's all about what it means to be truly sorry," says Vardi, adding that performing the piece in a familiar, minimalist location adds to its power.
"Couples, Couples" is a similarly intimate performance featuring performers who are partners in life and their art. Using a unique blend of movement and theatrical character sketching, Dana Yahalomi and Michael Reinhardt chronicle their own relationship in a public way.
Through challenging the boundaries of dance and mixing it with theater and narrative, the pair take a brutally honest look at their own life, which includes seduction and dependence as well as emotional pain.
Emotions aside, A-Genre would not be an Israeli event without some distinctly political and macho pieces. "Funeral Rites" considers the role of fear within masculine culture while "Warrior in Uniform" explores military themes from the unlikely locale of a vacant parking lot.
By standing in an open space, the audience will get to experience a kind of "public intimacy," Vardi says. Tmuna's challenge will be to make "Warrior in Uniform" and other pieces interesting to a broad range of art lovers, not just those already ensconced in artistic circles.
Vardi, who worked on the project together with creative consultant Nava Zukerman, is not concerned. He says that a similar event three months ago drew hundreds of audience members, most of whom were not artists themselves, and he expects a similar turnout at the upcoming event.
"You would be surprised at who comes to these things," he says.
There will be a performance today at 2:30 p.m. and another Saturday, May 13, at 8 p.m. Works by students from Jerusalem's School of Visual Theater will also be performed. For more information, (03) 562-9462.
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