Arkadi Zaides, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2015
Author: Arkadi Zaides
Directed by Arkadi Zaides
about the production
B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories initiated, in 2007, a project under which Palestinian volunteers living in the most conflict-affected zones on the West Bank made video-footage of the conflict situations with the Israelis. The aim of the project was to document human rights breaches and show to Israeli and international public the reality of life in the Occupied Territories.
Arkadi Zaides, young Israeli choreographer and dancer, followed upon the project to use his solo improvisation to comment on the complex issue of Israeli–Palestinian relations. Yet he asks what is the potential of the violence inherent in every individual and the cost the society pays for regulating the violence. A projection screen and a dancer – that is all which is on stage. Together with the audience the dancer follows the video footage from the B’Tselem project. Each item is identified with documentary precision. We learn when and under what circumstance it was shot, whom it depicts, in which situation and where.
We first see trembling and blurred shots, then gradually sharper images of a country and city in the Occupied Territory, until the conflict and clash scenes come up. Arkadi Zaides first silently observes, then gradually starts imitating the movement of people on the screen. He lends his body to imitate and, at the same time, interpret in real time bodily movement of a stranger. The movement on the video documentary is authentic, original: we see bodies the personify aggression and anger, preparing to attack, attacking or escaping. The movement on stage is a result of observation, it is copied. At the same time, it raises the authentic movement from the recording to intentional movement placed in a different context.
Suddenly we do not watch virtual motion, the virtual reality, but an emotionally charged movement that enables us to experience more authentically and perceptively, because we have grown quite immune to the reality that is communicated to us by the media. Arkadi Zaides gradually accelerates and gradates the movement, adds voice elements, odd sounds. All that is multiplied through the repetition of motion, voice and images in a digital loop. That further accentuates the appeal of the communication of the sense of aggression, which is the leitmotif of the footage.
Zaides’ body turns into a live archive, memory into which he transformed and imprinted, through his body, human brutality and aggression. Moreover, violence is transformed artistically as well: a prima facie similar bodily movement is put in harmony with different context and acquires a different meaning.
With his Archive Arkadi Zaides comments on a concrete conflict on the Occupied Territories from the perspective of an Israeli who is courageous enough to see extremism amidst his compatriots. That eventually earned him rejection of his production in the circles back home. He poses a more universal question: what is universal about violence, how is it bodily manifested and what happens when it becomes collectively regulated? In his work Zaides addresses the relationship between body and politics, as well as the opportunities for art in political discourse, and in solving political and societal conflicts.
“I am intrigued by the artistic gesture of Arkadi Zaides. He wants to denounce violence by siding with it. I can’t help but see the search for a catharsis, but let me tell you that he rejects this when I ask him the question. So, I get the image of Christ crucified for our sins. I am very admiring of this choreographer who is younger than me, and who has dared take on the political violence which destroys people. This piece saddens me as it reveals what we want to obliterate. I have always known my father to campaign for human rights, I fled, like my generation, my political responsibilities and here is a show, an election, a minor news item that comes to get me, to wake me up.”
Catherine Zavodska, Danseauhourdhui, 10/07/2014
“The dancer on the stage imitates the postures of the protagonists. First the movements are frozen, then gradually come to life. He in turn throws stones, braces himself and jerks like this Palestinian who is being taken away. His screams echo the video documentary, amplify them more and more. He becomes the wild conductor in a deafening world and the nightmare invades the stage. A simple documentary dance where the artiste, in a humble approach, echoes the unbearable situation of his country, the colonisation he denounces through his body. It is overwhelming.”
Muriel Maalouf, RFI, 11/07/2014
concept & choreography: Arkadi Zaides
archive materials: volunteers for the“Camera Project”of B’Tselem – The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – Iman Sufan, Mu’az Sufan, Bilal Tamimi, Udai ‘Aqel, Awani D’ana, Bassam J’abri, Abu ‘Ayesha, Qassem Saleh, Mustafa Elkam, Raed Abu Ermeileh, Abd al-Karim J’abri, Issa ‘Amro, Ahmad Jundiyeh, Nasser Harizat, Abu Sa’ifan, Oren Yakobovich, Nayel Najar
video consultant: Effi Weiss & Amir Borenstein
sound art & voice dramaturgy: Tom Tlalim
artistic advice: Katerina Bakatsaki
assistant choreography: Ofir Yudilevitch
light design: Thalie Lurault
technical director: Pierre-Olivier Boulant
production: Yael Bechor
special thanks to: Myriam Van Imschoot
residencies at: CDC Toulouse (FR), CNDC Angers (FR), STUK Leuven (BE), Theatre National De Chaillot (FR), WP Zimmer (BE)
international distribution: Key Performance – Julia Asperska & Koen Vanhove
Arkadi Zaides (1979) born in the Soviet Union, he has been living and working in Tel Aviv since 1990. Having graduated in arts and dance in Misgav in 1999, he worked with the Noa Dar Dance Company and Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv. He is freelance since 2004. His works were presented in a number of countries in Europe, as well as America and Asia. He was the first Israeli choreographer who place on stage side-by-side Jewish and Arab-Israeli artists. In cooperation with The Goethe Institute in Israel he convened the Moves Without Borders (2012 – 2014), a platform dedicated to encounters between avant-garde choreographers in contemporary dance scene to discuss the relationship between body, politics and society. As an activist he works in communities in the Arab regions and Israel where he initiates additional dance projects. He is laureate of a number of prestigious awards by foundations, recipient of multiple award by the Israeli Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports. In 2013 he was awarded prize by The Emile Zola Chair for Human Rights for his project Archive. The prize was awarded for the first time and aims to support initiatives in the field of the arts
Video of the production: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN
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