ReOrientalism — a multimedia performance

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Date/Time: 25/10/2003 12:00 am

The Center for Cultural Exchange and ALWAN for the Arts present
Saturday October 25, 2003 at 6pm and 8:30pm
a multimedia performance
New York Premiere
created by composer and oud virtuoso Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, performance poet Suheir Hammad, and designer and percussionist Karim Nagi Mohammed.
directed by James Bau Graves
A show that explores the gulf between the way the Middle East
is portrayed in the media, vs. the lived experience of American
artists of Middle Eastern descent.
Alwan for the Arts
16 Beaver Street, 4th floor
Directions: in the Financial District between Broadway & Broad
Subway: 4,5 Bowling Green N,R Whitehall
2,3 Wall Street J,M,Z Broad Street 1,9 South Ferry
see also http://www.16beavergroup.org/about/#directions
tickets: $35 (for student price, see below)
Midtown: Kalustyan, 123 Lexington Av. @ 28th St 212.685.3451
Village: Salam Cafe, 104 W 13th St btw 6th & 7th Av 212.741.0277
Brooklyn: Rashid Music, 155 Court @ Atlantic Av., Brooklyn
718.852.3295 www.rashid.com
credit card payments can be made by phone (212)352-3101
or over the web http://alwan.org/events
$20 with student ID only at the Alwan space @ 16 Beaver 5-7pm daily
funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts,
the Rockefeller Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts
and the LEF Foundation
Created by Armenian composer and oud virtuoso Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian,
Palestinian performance poet Suheir Hammad, and Egyptian designer and
percussionist Karim Nagi Mohammed, ReOrientalism is a multi-media
performance exploring the West’s simultaneous romanization and fear of
Islam. The creators, like most Arab-Americans, contend with complex
identity issues. ReOrientalism unfolds through both spoken and sung text.
Suheir Hammad (libretto) will include her own new work interspersed with
fragments drawn from Said’s writings as well as illustrative samplings
from works of Oriental literature that have dominated the West’s
conception, i.e. 1001 Arabian Nights. The live action will be
complemented by several video “conversations” between Suheir Hammad in New
York, several different actors, and Edward Said himself, appearing on
archival video footage.
Press contact: Mahdis Keshavarz 212.260.5000
Artists bios
Suheir Hammad (text) is the most outspoken and acclaimed
Palestinian-American performer of her generation. A dynamic
performance poet, she is currently touring internationally in Russell
Simmons’ “Def Poetry Jam”, a program that was designated as one
of the top three 2002 performance events in the world by the New York
Suheir Hammad was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman,
Jordan. She has published a book of poems, “Born Palestinian, Born
Black” (Harlem River Press, 1996), and a memoir, “Drops of This
Story” (Writers and Readers, 1996), and is prominently featured in
“Listen Up! An Anthology of Spoken Word Poetry”. She has produced a
documentary film, “Half a Lifetime”, and is writing a film entitled
“From Beirut to Brooklyn”, based on her memoir.
Karim Nagi Mohammed (visual design/percussion) emigrated from Egypt
to the United States in the mid-seventies. He is active as a
designer most prominently in his work in the fashion industry and is
among the leading masters of Arabic music resident in the Northeast.
He currently teaches at the New England Conservatory and produces an
on-going monthly series of Arabic performances in Boston.
Karim is a widely published writer, marketing consultant, graphic
artist and fashion show producer. He also actively produces Turbo
Tabla, a global house music that unites live performance with
electronic music, visual imagery, text, movement and fashion.
Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian (music composition and direction) was born
into an Armenian family in Massachusetts in 1951. Al took up the oud
as a child, and by his teens had mastered the Armenian dance hall
repertoire. In a move highly unusual for an Armenian, he sought out
the great Turkish kanun master Esber Kuprucu, to whom he was
apprenticed from 1977 until Kuprucus death last year,
mastering the complex system of makam, Turkish classical music. A
prolific composer, Al performs regularly with the Bardezbanian Middle
Eastern Ensemble, a sextet that he has directed for several years.
In addition, Al is widely acknowledged as one of the leading masters
of both Internal and External Martial Arts in the United States.
This summer he became a faculty member at the Arab Music Retreat, the
reknowned Middle Eastern music program in the US.
James Bau Graves (director) is Co-Director of the Center for Cultural
Exchange, in Portland, Maine. His work is focused on exploration of
the personal, political, aesthetic and ethical issues embedded in the
concept and practice of public culture. At the Center, he has
facilitated the creation of an extended series of programs, in close
collaboration with community groups and artists, which address grass
roots cultural aspirations, questions of identity and
social/financial power relations. Bau has performed and recorded
with several jazz and traditional music ensembles. His first book,
Cultural Democracy, is forthcoming in 2004.
Najla Said (actress) is a founding member of the Arab-American
Theater Company, which has been prominent as a public voice of
Americans of Middle Eastern descent. As the daughter of
Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said, Najla brings a unique
perspective to her participation in the ReOrientalism project.
Seyyide Sultan (dancer) is a leading performer and authority on
Middle Eastern dance, as distinct from stereotypical assumptions
about belly dancing. She teaches in the Boston area and works
frequently with Karim Mohammed
Bardezbanian Middle Eastern Ensemble is directed by oud and klarinet
virtuoso Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian. The group performs folk music
from Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Greece, as well as classical
Arab and Turkish pieces and Bardezbanians large body of original
compositions. The musicians include violinist Michael Gallant,
accordionist Beth Borgerhoff, percussionist Eric LaPerna and
guitarist/bassist Bau Graves. Their first CD album, Kef to
Classical, was released in 2002.