“Tarab” is a word used in Arab culture to describe the emotional effect of music. It also refers specifically to an older repertoire, rooted in the pre-World War 1 musical practice of Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean Arab world, which was itself frequently linked to emotion. For Visiting Tarab, Paris-based artist Tarek Atoui has commissioned ten musicians and sound artists from different practices and geographical areas to revisit the largest and most extensive collection of Classical Arab music in the world. This private collection, owned by Lebanese collector Kamal Kassar, is constituted of old 78 rpm shellac discs and studio tapes of music from 1903-1950. Coming from a variety of musical traditions including pop, hip-hop, electronic, contemporary, and improvisation, this group of artists—all of whom are known for their live performances and for sampling and re-appropriation techniques—have been invited to use this remarkable library as raw material for original performances.
At their one-night-only performance in Performa 11, the music will be continuous, following a meticulous build-up of energies, intensities, and textures inspired by the structure and rules of Tarab, in which the performance space is a space of enchantment and ecstasy. Along with Atoui, participating artists and musicians include DJ Spooky, Jonathan Butcher, Uriel Barthelemi, Anti-Pop Consortium, Lukas Ligeti, Robert Lowe, Raz Mesinai, Phantom Orchard (Zeena Parkins + Ikue Mori + Sara Parkins), Elliott Sharp, and Yasmine Hamdan.
Performa 11, the fourth edition of the internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art performance presented by Performa, will be held in New York City from November 1–21, 2011. The three-week biennial will showcase new work by more than 100 of the most exciting artists working today, in an innovative program breaking down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts. Presented in collaboration with a consortium of more than 50 arts institutions and over 50 curators, as well as a network of public spaces and private venues across the city, Performa 11 will ignite New York City with energy and ideas, acting as a vital “think tank” linking minds across the five boroughs and bringing audiences together for brilliant new performances in all disciplines.
Founded by RoseLee Goldberg in 2004, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Performa launched New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, followed by Performa 07 (2007), and Performa 09 (2009).
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