Eleni Kamma & Shila Anaraki – Casting Call / Episode I

20:00 - 20:45

Dancing 'Tour' throughout Theater aan het Vrijthof

Casting Call: Episode I borrows from pre-political medieval entertainment figures such as the Fool to slapstick, satire, caricature. It invites you to rethink the relation between public life and art, between the genres of comedy and critique across history.

In Casting Call: Episode I the exhibits are considered both as hosts, inviting the visitor to experience them, and as testifiers, providing evidence to how the circulation processes in Kamma’s practice— from her as individual artist (through her drawings, where she enacts the Characters of the Parade on paper), to dialectic collaborations (through costumes, props, film and performative events, where the Characters are publicly enacted) and back again —materialize.

For Museumnacht Maastricht 2020, the exhibition is being further activated by performer and dramaturge Shila Anaraki, who assumes the role of a module in the exhibition. Departing from her own experience as performer in Casting Call: Episode I, Shila publicly enacts the Character(s) of her choice to address tensions between individual and collective practices and to reflect on how the notions of public time, public space and affect shape “our” understanding of collectivity. In doing so, she draws inspiration from the building’s layered history of functions, through blocks of text and images ranging from “religious temple” to the General’s house to the home of the municipal museum, the city archives, the city library and the municipal police, to name but a few.

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About Eleni Kamma

Visual artist and researcher Eleni Kamma (Athens, 1973) lives and works in Brussels and Maastricht. Her practice moves along a Moebius strip schema, that keeps circulating from her as individual artist (through drawings and objects), to dialectic collaborations (films, performative events, a journal) and back again, by writing about it and working on it with others. Since 2015, Kamma has been exploring the notion of parrhesia: the courage to speak one’s mind and in doing so, trying to transform the ethos of the one who is listening.

About Casting Call

Casting Call (2016-ongoing) is a series of related attempts, events and manifestations. It playfully explores conditions for politics being possible in the public space today, through collaborative developments in an artistic, performative framework. Kamma calls this process a parrhesiastic theater parade. The parade develops halfway between a cultural allegory of contemporary Europe and an invocation of a community of old parrhesiastic laughers. It is an invented genre of theatricality whereby events, actions, performances are staged by twenty-five distinct characters-types, such as The Fool, The Animal, The Drunk, The Angry, The Collector of Proverbs etc. These characters-types test the possibility of courageously voicing their opinions through scenes of excess and laughter. In doing so, they use commissioned texts and sketches on community-related concepts that create disagreement: Democracy, Prosperity, Solidarity, Europe, Languages, Migration, Pluralism. Kamma borrowed these from BELvue Museum, which uses them to reflect on Belgium and Belgian society.

The scenes take place publicly and effect the bystanders’ agency to speak their own minds. Speaking in the name of who? Who is the proper comedian? The title’s ‘casting call’ works both as a reference to the preparation for a film or theatre production and as an invitation to inclusivity. Casting laughter, like casting a vote, amounts to an act of, process and a call for, participation.

Casting Call is supported by Mondriaan Fund, VAF Filmlab (development), Stichting De Zaaier, Beursschouwburg, nadine/Wandering Arts Biennial, M-Museum Leuven, asbl Art/Recherche, Theater aan het Vrijthof, Centre d'art Le Lait, Provincie Limburg (The Netherlands), and Grensverleggers/deBuren.

Credits Images

Header: Casting Call: Episode I (in post-production). Film still. Scene 23 EXT. BRUG & HET PROVINCIEHUIS, MAASTRICHT – DAG. The Animal Group (Shila Anaraki, Sahra Huby, Simone Schuffelen, Joep Vossebeld) arrives at the Provinciehuis. They are here to perform: Democracy by Pieter de Buysser (BE).

Mid: RE-M-OMMEGANG (Re-M-Parade) Performance at M – Museum Leuven for Playground, 2018 Research, concept and direction: Eleni Kamma; performance and script developed in collaboration with Shila Anaraki; performer Shila Anaraki.

 ©Robin Zenner