Anubis Takes Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon on a Guided Tour Through Park Slope
Paper Bag Issue 1
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RE-ENGLISH-- Daria Fain and Robert Kocik--Governor's Island, June 4, 2010
with Aretha Aoki, Margot Basset, Chung-chen Chang, Stephen Cooper, Levi Gonzalez, Hasuki Homma, Masumi Kishimota, Kora Koimtzi, Athena Kokoronis, Martin Lanz, Mina Nishimura, Peter Sciscioli, Kensaku Shinohara and Samita Sinha.
As part of an ongoing collaborative "research" project conducted by Fain and Kocik that they call The Prosodic Body one of the dancer/singer/workshop member/performance artists recited the following "anonymous 17th century protest poem" titled "Goose":
"The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common
but leaves the greater villain loose who steals the common from the goose.
The law demands that we atone when we take things we do not own
but leaves the lords and ladies fine who take things that are yours and mine.
The poor and wretched don't escape if they conspire the law to break;
this must be so but they endure those who conspire to make the law.
The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common
and geese will still a common lack till they go and steal it back."
This poem powerfully captures the aims and insights of the "commons" philosophy enacted in the piece and later discussed throughout the film presentation. I was sorry to have missed the earlier panel discussion that included Fred Ho.
The other night Toni and I watched the last of the 5th season of episodes of The Wire.. Although we've been sad to see other tv series end - I noticed this time Toni was particularly perturbed. There were a number of reasons for this, but one of them, I'm sure, was the series' political astuteness along with the excellent acting and narrative power to support the cultural and social points being made, and the stories being told, many of which were based on actual events in recent years in Baltimore..
Like The Wire, but here more in the realm of experimental high art, the Fain/Kocik Re-English has much to offer in the way of social/political critique, the difference being that in this collaboration solutions are being actively sought, and the early seeding of an actual social movement may be observed. The performance went on for about forty-five minutes and there were fourteen performers. Each performer enacted individual movement scenarios, and one by one the performers recited pieces written or collected by Robert Kocik,including the one quoted above. There were sung elements as well, and pre-verbal phonemic utterances that were sometimes said, sometimes chanted and sometimes sung. HIstory, political critique, music, movement, shamanistic chant, and psycho-lexical experimentation and many other elements have been brought together and developed in the Fain/Kocik research mode towards a philosophy they have described as "The commons." The group has been in evolution for over four years, Fain describes the effort as a form of "economic research", ironically referring to the financial struggles of the group as well. It is gratifying to witness the survival of a group that has an aim that combines the political, the social and the artistic.
For me, one of the most exciting moments of the piece was performed by Margot Basset. I can only describe it by saying that she virtually transformed her voice into that of a large, chirping, wailing, whooping, crying bird, in a manner so shamanistically powerful as to bring the energy of the room into another spiritual dimension entirely; this could only have happened in the context of the convincing and moving efforts of the entire troupe, who, it is almost impossible to believe have mostly worked in a piecemeal "commons" fashion employed by the group, as Daria told me later when she and Robert Kocik found me and Toni relaxing on the beautiful Governor's Island lawn as they were leaving after the film and performances. [At that moment Toni and I were in astonished wonder at the synchronicity of our discovering a few minutes earlier that our nephew Michael Burakoff's band Keepaway was then in the process of doing a sound check for their concert later that night at the nearby sound stage at the moment we left after the Re-English piece and the film about the Commons. Put that together with the fact that Governor's Island is my birthplace (my father was an officer stationed there at the beginning of the Second World War), and you've got a series of synchronicities more complex that I can easily process.]
Anyway, In the film shown immediately after Re-English, one goal for the Commons group I feel particularly crucial is the integration of the needs of the individual with that of the group for, up until now, it seems to me all political systems have failed to maximize the potential of these two elements working together on each other's behalf; a goal actually aimed for and often achieved in this choral, soloistic, combinatory, harmonic and planfully anarchic, polycultural, artistic and social theatrical enactment.
Commoning on Governor's Island-Wild Horses of Fire (Thom Donovan)
Thom Donovan on The Phonemic Choir
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