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Live Arts Bard Announces Four Day Festival WHERE NO WALL REMAINS

Live Arts Bard Announces Four Day Festival WHERE NO WALL REMAINS

Live Arts Bard (LAB), the residency and commissioning program of the Fisher Center at Bard, announces Where No Wall Remains, the third edition of the acclaimed LAB Biennial, temporarily reconfiguring the Fisher Center as a site for innovative and interactive performances and installations (November 21-24). Co-curated by Lebanese live artist Tania El Khoury, a 2019 Soros Art Fellow, and Gideon Lester, the Fisher Center's Artistic Director for Theater and Dance, this four-day festival considers the subject of borders: political borders, physical borders, historical and contemporary borders, borders seen and unseen, the borders of the body, borders between art forms, between performers and spectators, the borders that divide or define us, borders to be crossed, tested, resisted, destroyed, rebuilt, or transcended. Where No Wall Remains follows The House is Open (2014), which explored the relationship between visual and performing arts, and We're Watching (2017), which examined contemporary states of surveillance. This third edition of the festival features nine new performances and installations by contemporary artists from the Middle East and Central America, commissioned by Live Arts Bard. Please see below for dates and times for each work.

As curators Tania El Khoury and Gideon Lester describe, "We started planning [this edition of the festival] January 2017, in the week that the Trump administration's 'Muslim ban' came into effect, accompanied by increasingly xenophobic rhetoric and the specter of a wall along the US/Mexico line. It was inevitable that the current edition would focus on the subject of borders... The recent near-elimination of the American immigration program, together with an increase of human rights violations on the Mexican border, have made the subject of the festival even more grimly present than we could have imagined in 2017. Current US immigration policy has particularly affected people from the Middle East and Central America, and we therefore invited artists from those regions to join us in creating the festival."

November 2019, the month of the festival, marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the most significant and celebrated events of the 20th century, at the time it seemed to promise a future of open borders and unification. Three decades later, the heady dreams of 1989 are very far from us; walls are being built up, not torn down. The title Where No Wall Remains, taken from a love poem by Rumi, is an invitation to imagine a utopian state of being-a fully unbordered world.

The festival is sited throughout the Fisher Center and beyond it, at the Bard Farm and in the nearby village of Tivoli, NY. The political potential of each work evokes many ideas and representations of borders: Emily Jacir's letter to a friend, Rudi Goblen's FITO, and Tania El Khoury's Cultural Exchange Rate re-center the political debate around the personal, presenting autobiographical, familial, and neighborhood accounts of border crossing and navigating broader systems of oppression; Ali Chahrour's Night brings the audience to the most intimate site of alienation, the human body, reminding us that love stories are also stories of borders and how we transcend them.

The entire program responds to the urgency of our political climates, not by merely advancing critique, but by also producing knowledge. Works such as Jason de León's Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94), Mirna Bamieh/Palestine Hosting Society's Menu of Dis/appearance, Emilio Rojas' m(Other)s: Hudson Valley, and At those terrifying frontiers where the existence and disappearance of people fade into each other (part 2) (a site-specific video and sound installation by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme with a performance by Tashweesh) engage dispossessed bodies, erased cultures, and forgotten artifacts. Rojas' Naturalized Borders (to Gloria) redraws the Mexico-US border as an imagined line by communities who have historically asserted the intersection between labor rights, land sovereignty, and migration. We are reminded of the everyday price many people pay for borders: the marginalization of indigenous communities, the uncounted and unrecorded deaths at border zones, and the erasure of entire life worlds. The festival's cover image, Samar Hazboun's photograph of the wall in her town of Bethlehem, represents a global community of artists who refuse to be imprisoned by racism or cement.

The festival is the culmination of a two-year partnership with many programs at Bard (including Middle Eastern Studies, Latin American and Iberian Studies, Experimental Humanities, and the Human Rights Project), which have included undergraduate courses, public programs, and artist residencies.

The curators write, "We acknowledge the vast production that came before this program by artists and activists who are most affected by discriminatory border politics. We pay homage to them and hope to build on the ongoing discussion and mobilization on borders with this timely and inspiring body of work."

The themes and artists of Where No Wall Remains are further explored in the digital realm via the festival blog (, which includes a syllabus, interviews with the artists, digital resources, and more.

Where No Wall Remains will take place at the Fisher Center over four days, Thursday, November 21-Sunday, November 24, 2019. Admission to several events and installations is free; tickets prices for paid events are listed below, and are now available for sale. All tickets can be purchased at to or 845.758.7900. The Fisher Center at Bard Arts is located at 60 Manor Avenue, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, 12504. A round-trip coach from New York City will be available on November 24.

Where No Wall Remains - Schedule of Events

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme with Tashweesh

At those terrifying frontiers where the existence and disappearance of people fade into each other (part 2)
LAB Commission / World Premiere
Installation: November 21, 6-9pm; November 22, 7:30-9pm; November 23, 1-4pm, 5:30-9:30pm; November 24, 3-6pm
Performances: November 22, 6:30pm; November 23, 4:30pm; November 24, 2pm & 6:30pm
Resnick Studio, Fisher Center
Tickets: $15

At those terrifying frontiers where the existence and disappearance of people fade into each other (part 2) brings together a site-specific video and sound installation by Palestinian-American artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme and a new performance by Tashweesh, an improvised constellation that brings the artists together with musician/performer Muqata'a. Combining their different practices in a joint performance, using sound, music, and images, the result is an exploration of the collision between returns, erasure, and disruption.

From the returns of the land and stubborn vegetation that does not die, to artifacts that are reactivated as living matter, figures that return in virtual form, and disruptive bodies that keep reappearing on borders. Both the installation and performance address the intentional erosion of bodies, land, and structures in different forms, but also their re-appearance in and returns to spaces where they "should not be." These projects invite us to consider the forms of entanglement between the destruction of bodies and the erasure of images, and the conditions under which these same bodies and images might once again reappear.

Mirna Bamieh / Palestine Hosting Society

Menu of Dis/appearance

LAB Commission / World Premiere
November 21-23, 7:30pm
Presented at and in partnership with Murray's (73 Broadway, Tivoli, NY, 12583)
Tickets: $35, including dinner

In its first dinner performance in the United States, Palestine Hosting Society presents an expanded approach to "Palestinianess" that trespasses borders and geographies. Through a menu that brings together dishes from Palestinian cities and villages, alongside others that were preserved in Palestinian refugee camps outside Palestine, and those that narrate inter-generational food habits and memory of the Palestinian diaspora, especially in the United States. Menu of Dis/appearance narrates stories about time, history, and parts of ourselves that we might have allowed to slip away.

Menu of Dis/appearance is a dinner performance that invites the audience on a journey through a selection of dishes that shares Palestine Hosting Society's investigation and unearthing of traditional Palestinian cuisine. Some of these dishes have been forgotten, their names rendered mostly abstract to the current generation of Palestinians. Being denied a state of their own, Palestinians use food as a means to express an identity that is constantly undermined. Life under occupation atrophied this connection to food, through imposing restriction policies over food and water resources, inflicting control on wild plant foraging, as well as creating dissonance by showcasing Palestinian dishes as Israeli. Over the years, such measures created a kitchen that is dispossessed, making many Palestinian traditional dishes disappear, or temporarily withdraw.

Ali Chahrour

LAB Commission / US Premiere
November 22, 7:30pm; November 23, 3pm; November 24, 4pm
LUMA Theater, Fisher Center
Tickets: $25

"The Catastrophe is a violent crisis during which the subject, experiencing the amorous situation as a definitive impasse, a trap from which he can never escape, sees himself doomed to total destruction." - Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments

Night, from Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour, is a dance concert inspired by the dense archive of love and romance in classical Arabic poetry, and from contemporary stories of lovers and their cruel separation. The work references stories from the cultural memory of the Levant and Mesopotamia about the fate of lovers who challenged social and religious systems, and whose bodies were punished and sentenced to suffer the distance of separation as well as the hope of impossible reunions.

The performance records the vicissitudes of lovers and their resistance, leading up to the moment when they fall and fade away. The exhausted body succumbs, and with it falls every action and instrument/tools that the performers had carried throughout the show. The fall reveals the fragility of the lover/performer, and the frailty of all the methods and tools at his disposal. The stage becomes the battlefield after the battle, where the audience has just witnessed the death, or rather, the birth of its heroes.

Night is co-commissioned by the Fisher Center, and co-produced by Zoukak Theatre Company, the Arab Arts Focus with the support of Stiftelsen, Studio Emad Eddin and Ford Foundation, Fonds de dotation du Quartz (Brest), and the Zurich Theatre Spektakel, with additional support from Fabrik Potsdam, and Kunstfest Weimar. Night was developed, in part, at the 2018 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab in Morocco with continued support through its Post-Lab Support Initiative.

Rudi Goblen

LAB Commission / World Premiere
November 23, 9pm; November 24, 7:30pm
Sosnoff Stage Right, Fisher Center
Tickets: $15

After 30 years in the United States, it is the day of Fito's naturalization ceremony. As he raises his hand for the Oath of Allegiance, he is transported to a composition of musical snapshots that make up his tapestry in this country. Some jaded, some moot, some filled with bodies of water, some disheartening-but none ever debilitating enough to keep him from chasing his dream to be the first American citizen in his family. FITO is an interactive concert-play incorporating songs, stories, and spoken word poems that meld to paint a soundscape of what it can take to be accepted in your own home, by your own people-or yourself.

Emily Jacir
letter to a friend
LAB Commission / World Premiere
November 21, 6-9pm; November 22, 6-9:30pm; November 23, 1-9:30pm; November 24, 1-8pm
Sosnoff Stage Left, Fisher Center

The artist asks a friend to start an investigation and recounts in minute detail various aspects of her home and street in Bethlehem-a site marked by movement, migrations, survival, and war.

Tania El Khoury
Cultural Exchange Rate

LAB Commission / US Premiere
November 21-22, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm; November 23, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm, 7pm, 8pm; November 24, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 5:30pm, 6:30pm
Sosnoff Backstage, Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $15

The cruelest of borders are invisible to the eye and present in everyday life: the death traps set within a moving body of water and the concealed militarization of faraway border villages.

Cultural Exchange Rate is an interactive live art project in which artist Tania El Khoury shares her family memoirs of life in a border village between Lebanon and Syria; marked by war survival, valueless currency collections, brief migration to Mexico, and a river that disregards the colonial and national borders.

The audience is invited to immerse their heads into one family's secret boxes to explore the sounds, images, and textures of traces of more than a century of border crossings.

Cultural Exchange Rate is based on the artist's recorded interviews with her late grandmother, oral histories collected in her village in Akkar, the discovery of lost relatives in Mexico City, and the family's attempt to secure dual citizenship.

Jason de León
Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94)

November 21, 6-9pm; November 22, 6-9:30pm; November 23, 1-9:30pm; November 24, 1-8pm
Weis Atrium
Fisher Center

Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a prototype of a participatory political art installation organized by the Undocumented Migration Project that will launch in the fall of 2020 in 150 locations around the globe simultaneously. A 20-foot-long map of the Arizona/Mexico border is populated with 3,199 handwritten toe tags that contain information about those who have died while migrating including name (if known), age, sex, cause of death, condition of body, and location. Some tags contain QR and Augmented-Reality codes that link to content related to migrant stories and visuals connected to immigration that can be accessed via cellphone. HT94 is intended to memorialize and bear witness to the thousands who have died as a result of Prevention Through Deterrence.

The most crucial (and interactive) aspect of the installation are the audience members committing their time and energy to meticulously fill out the death details for all 3,199 toe tags and then being assisted in placing these tags in the exact locations on the map where those individuals were found.

Emilio Rojas
Naturalized Borders (to Gloria)

LAB Commission / World Premiere
m(Other)s: Hudson Valley
Naturalized Borders Bard Farm Walk: November 21-22, 3:30pm; November 23, 1:30pm
Naturalized Borders Return to the Land Farm Ritual: November 24, 2:30-4:30
Naturalized Borders & m(Other)s (Installation): November 21, 6-9pm; November 22, 6-9:30pm; November 23, 1-9:30pm; November 24, 1-8pm
LAB Commission / World Premiere
Weis Atrium, Fisher Center
and Bard Farm

Naturalized Borders (to Gloria):

"The U.S.-Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds." - Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 1987.

Naturalized Borders (to Gloria) is the first iteration of multifaceted, interactive land art and community-based project, including a 72-foot long line of indigenous crops (corn, beans and squash, known as "the three sisters") planted in the shape of the US/Mexican border line on the Bard Farm; the harvesting, sharing, and clearing of the crop and land; a mobile paleta cart-turned-drawing studio upon which persons of any background are invited to memorialize real or imagined borders; and the documentation and archive from various stages of the project. Continuing the legacy of Chicana feminist writer Gloria Anzaldua, the work seeks to unearth histories of immigration, labor rights, borders, land sovereignty and systemic oppression.

Naturalized Borders (to Gloria) was created in collaboration with the Bard Farm (Rebecca Yoshino, Farm Coordinator) and The Center for the Study of Land, Air and Water, with the participation of students Mary Elizabeth Klein Meghan Mercier, Kaitlyn McClelland, Gabrielle Reyes, Alexi Piirimae, Midori Barandiaran, and Austin Sumlin.

m(Other)s: Hudson Valley:

m(Other)s: Hudson Valley is a series of video portraits of immigrant women, both documented and undocumented, holding their first-generation children. Inspired by the "hidden mother" photographs common from the advent of photography up until the 1920s, a standard practice requiring the mother to hold the child still while being covered and remaining invisible in the interest of foregrounding the child, these portraits seek to connect the political and social situation of women at the turn of the 20th century with the invisibility of the labor of immigrant women today.

Reading Room

The Where No Wall Remains Reading Room

Organized by Curatorial Fellows Sukanya Baskar CCS '20, Thea Spittle CCS '19, and Triston Tolentino '18
Fridays, September 27 through November 15, 1 pm-4 pm
November 21-24 during Biennial open hours
New Annandale House
Free and open to the public

The resources from the Biennial syllabus can be accessed at the Reading Room at the New Annandale House on the Bard College Campus. Open to the public, the Reading Room provides a space for individual and communal engagement with the discourse of Where No Wall Remains.

A schedule of special events at the Reading Room, including public talks, readings, and screenings, will be announced and posted here and on the blog.

The Reading Room is presented in association with Bard's Center for Experimental Humanities.

New Annandale House, Home of the Center for Experimental Humanities
1399 Annandale Road
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12571

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