come closer: performance raoni muzho saleh

September 24, 2021

a mother’s wail flung from one throat to the other

When a mother has nothing else to fight the barbarism of suffering she endures, it is in her wailing voice where she finds the strength to protest. In this performance Laima Jaunzema  and Raoni Muzho Saleh, as Dyva and Lashes, are in a call and response relation where a mother’s wail is being flung from one throat to the other.

Drawing inspiration from the late Gloria E. Anzaldúa (Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza) and the late Agha Shahid Ali (Call me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals) – who have both engaged poetically with the pull of grief for loss and praise for love which lingers – this performance is the embodiment of a bemoaning ghazal that is a dedication to five representations of the holy mother, namely the mother who lost her children, the whore mother, the black mother, the exiled mother and the raped mother.

The ghazal, as an amatory poem, originating in Arabic poetry, is a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. In this performance the ghazal serves not only as a textual base from which Lashes and Dyva plunge themselves into a deep well of wailing reverberance, but the ghazal( غَزَلَ, ghazala), meaning to spin, is also materialized physically by the whole collective body – of audience and performers – in a slow spin around the church. Through a sonic and physical exploration of the moan in their calling and responding, Dyva and Lashes aim to fill the space with shivering images of the five mothers’ wailing that mark the listener’s hearing.

Raoni Muzho Saleh (1991 AFG/NL) is a choreographer/performer based in Amsterdam. He graduated from UvA, Bachelor in Literary and Cultural Analysis, in 2015 and from SNDO, Bachelor in Choreography, in 2019. His recent works are materializations of the seduction of the backspace which form both his conceptual brewing around strange relationalities and his movement practice of ‘becoming other’. Through the backspace he aims to provoke a dance in the direction of transformational multiplicity that aspires being freed from deeply ingrained algorithmic oppressions of solid subjectivity.

The performance takes place two times and has a duration of about 50 minutes, with afterwards some time to linger in the Oude Kerk. Leading up to this performance, Raoni hosts a Mourning Sociality for a small group of participants on  September 20th. For more information click here

19:00 – 20:30

Choreography: Raoni Muzho Saleh
Performed by:    Laima Jaunzema and Raoni Muzho Saleh
Costume design: Raoni Muzho Saleh

Photo: © Maarten Nauw