The Resonance Project at Alwan for the Arts
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The Resonance Project begins the first week of December at Alwan for the Arts, a vibrant downtown hub for Middle Eastern arts and culture. Partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Resonance Project is an innovative new program that invites members of Alwan’s core community of visual and performing artists to participate in a week of interdisciplinary improvisation, experimentation and creative inquiry.
Resonance participants include: filmmaker Tala Hadid, visual artist Kevork Mourad, performer, singer and playwright Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian, choreographer and dancer Carrie Ahern and musicians Zafer Tawil, Tarek Yamani and Kinan Azmeh.
The week will culminate in a public performance at 8pm on Friday, December 7th, at Alwan for the Arts in Lower Manhattan.
Since 1998, Alwan for the Arts has built a quintessentially ‘New York’ Arab and Middle Eastern cultural scene: “[what] CBGB was for punk rock in the 70s, Alwan for the Arts is for music from the Middle East now” (Lucid Culture, January 2012). With a year-round calendar of film screenings, concerts, literary readings and discussions, Alwan plays host to visiting cultural luminaries from the Middle East one night and local talent the next.
Alwan has been a hub of artistic activity and creative experimentation since its inception, nurturing and learning from a large family of artists and intellectuals who play an active role in shaping programs. Resonance draws from this organic community and takes its inspiration from the notion of tarab, a musically-induced state of ecstasy shared by performers and audience alike as a result of an open-ended, interactive encounter.
Resonance will expand the concept across disciplines, with the intent of disrupting the paradigmatic viewing practices unique to each genre. Unlike standard forms of cultural consumption that generally occur in segregated, highly ritualized settings—the concert hall, the movie theatre, the art gallery—Resonance is about creating connections between forms, ideas, moments and locations.
The point of departure for the Resonance participants will be the 1971 poem, ‘A Grave for New York’, by Arab modernist poet Adonis. In this seminal work, Adonis explores New York’s urban landscape with the incisive eye of an outsider attuned to the city’s seductive mythologies. He responds to its signs, disinterring lost histories whose threads span across time and geographies. From Greenwich Village to Beirut, from Harlem to the Arab slave trade, Walt Whitman to Al-Niffari, Adonis teases out hidden connections and unexpected resonances.
The Resonance Project, likewise, is the first of a multi-phase Alwan initiative to map out the intellectual and cultural affinities of its creative community, to engage in a critical exploration of its past and to discover new possibilities for its future.