Discussion: I Know Not What They Say: Hypertext

Sat, March 11, 2017 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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The question of representation has as long a history as that of truth. It is even more problematic when it is addressed within the realm of aesthetics. Artistic gestures in the visual or performative arts, music and literature are symbolic acts, intended to fuse the imaginary and the real, encapsulated and condensed in time and space to evoke nature, truth or the possibility of a scenario of truth. It is a fiction or an image of what is real.

In that sense, the problematic encountered by the arts becomes even more layered given the nature of the medium conveying the symbolic expression: sound or visual, dance or poetry. The gestures must be crisp to evoke a condition, sentiment and an attitude. More often than not, one hears a saying or looks at a work of art and immediately, or intuitively senses that it captures reality, what's around us and before our eyes.

One such strategy that approximates the real is improvisation, in so far as it gives an artistic license for the performer to veer off the text, exploring themes and potentials. It is a hypertext activated on the spot, a rehearsal as it were. Choreographers and filmmakers have used non-trained dancers and actors who are free from the constraints of form as a way of representing and embodying the real as very real. In order to capture the sound of pre-formed performance, composers hand over their scores to ensembles and orchestra members the day of the recording of the concert.

Both Bouchra Ouizguen and Amir Elsaffar have been exploring collective aesthetic experiences through the medium of their artworks, striving to create a social microcosm that has the potential of transcending the real, not into the individually symbolic but into unison.

In The Land that Remains, a photo essay, photographer Federico Busonero, accompanied by architect Giovanni Fontana, remarkably invade the photograph that captures the real by showing absence. The image is so blinding that it ignites the sun. It is not so much a documentation of ruins but rather the indisputable evidence of oppression, and of life not in the frame of absence but hidden in the fear of the threat.

This is a dance that is in search of movement, music that flees its score and an image that hides itself. In other words, it is life in flux. Rashmi Viswanathan will be in conversation with the artists, exploring their processes and the nature of improvisation as intervention.


Federico Busonero is the author of The Chapel of St. Ignatius, Visione e Interrogazione, Un Dialogo tra Poesia e Fotografia and Sant' Antimo and Foresta. For his photographic works,

Giovanni Fontana Antonelli is an architect, who worked for fifteen years with UNESCO. Between 2003-2013, he served as UNESCO's Head of Culture Unit in Ramallah. He has earned international recognition, winning the Gubbio Prize (1996), the UNESCO Team Award (2009) and the Melina Mercouri International Prize (2011) for safeguaring cultural landscapes.

Amir Elsaffar, Alwan's programing director and music curator, is a composer, trumpet and santour player. His last album Crisis was released in 2015. His new album Rivers of Sound is currently in production.

Moroccon born Bouchra Ouizguen received the 2010 New Choreographic Talent Award from France. Her performances include Ana Ounta (2002), Mort et Moi (2005), Aita (2007), Madame Plazza (2010), Voyage Cola (2011), HA! (2012), Corbeaux (2014), and OTTOF (2015).

Rashmi Viswanathan writes on issues in colonial-era and more recent art and photography. She holds a doctorate in Islamic art history from New York University. In addition to curating for the Alwan for the Arts andthe Brooklyn-based arts residency program, Residency Unlimited, she also lectures at the New School.


3rd i New York’s monthly film/video/media salon is curated by local filmmakers and cultural producers to showcase the works of independent media artists of South Asian, Central Asian, and Arab descent. Providing alternative forums for these filmmakers who often have few venues to showcase their work and whose cultures and histories are often demonized or misrepresented in mainstream media, not only increases their visibility, but also provides a social forum for peers and audiences to participate in an ongoing discussion.

3rd i NY Film Programming is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts, and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, both in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

We thank Alwan for the Arts for hosting our film screenings and to the SINGH Foundation for acting as our fiscal sponsor.


Last updated: 2017-03-04 07:02:27

By Federico Busonero
By Federico Busonero
Corbeaux by Bouchra Ouizguen
Corbeaux by Bouchra Ouizguen
Crisis by Amir Elsaffar
Crisis by Amir Elsaffar

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(between Broad St. and Broadway)
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(646) 732-3261

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