Narrating Transformed

A series of performances, conversations and a sound installation investigating orality in contemporary art

Al Halqua in Arabic means « circle » and refers to thespontaneous coming together of curious crowds attractedby a performative event in public space. Every eveningon the Jemâa El Fna, the central square in Marrakech,acrobats, singers, snake charmers and storytellers gatherto entertain or inform the public with their living arts.Since 2001 the centuries-old oral tradition of Al Halqua belongs to the UNESCO Heritage. Storytelling in particular is endangered by today’s social changes in Morocco Narrat ing Transformed is an art intervention in the cultural space Dar Bellarj, in the medina of Marrakesh.In the context of the exhibition ”Al Halqua, Les Trésors humains de Jemâa El Fna” three artists engage with forms of orality, their transmission and transformation through different artistic practices. The works specifically developed for this occasion look at the narrating tradition of Morocco, from different perspectives. A series of performances, conversations and a sound installation transform the courtyard and the first floor of Dar Bellarj in a temporary stage for a critical encounter with contemporary expressions of the Al Halqua.
In the 20th century the disappearance of the living arts was addressed in manifold ways. With his early paintings, Pablo Picasso – for example–immortalised acrobats and harlequins as a world outside the constraints of modernity and its rationality. In the middle of the 20th century the film Les Enfants du paradis paid again tribute to the traveling fairground people of Paris swept away by the modern urbanisation a century ago. The body-centred performances of pre-modern and popular cultures fascinated the Futurists and the Dadaists as they used voices, gestures and movements in dance, mime, acrobatics or freak shows irrespective of narratives or dramatic conflicts. Subsequently, these currents influenced the performance artists of 1960s and 1970s in the attempt to re-embodying primary qualities of life, which had been repressed by the dominance of rationalist and intellectual discourses in Western culture and art.1 The question of how performative works can survive over time, is central not only to Al Halqua but to all fugative artistic expressions. In music theory ‘notation’ was conceptualized as a recording system that includes, contrary to scripture, deviation, variation and uncertainty. Adorno spoke of the ”remembering trace of ephemeral sound.” In performance art, documentation is currently discussed as generating tool that incorporates alteration and mutability for future interpretation and enactments.

See Booklet

(Gabriella Giannachi, 2014; Hall Foster, 2015) (HB)
1 Günter Berghaus, Avant-garde Performance: Live Events and
Electronic, Basingstoke, 2005, 132 – 133.