Relative Distance, 2021
Relative Distance was created in the framework of a production residency focusing on the theme of ‘EXILE TODAY’ by Kampnagel theater, Hamburg and Körber foundation. This work is a participatory performance synthesized with a real-time psychological experiment, in which empathy is discussed, questioned, and experienced. The project consisted of one-on-one conversations between performers and audience members, via an online conversation platform, during the COVID 19 pandemic.
The project brings different testimonies of how COVID-19 acts as a greater divider and hits hardest the ones who are marginalized and neglected in different societies and plays into existing systemic racism. It brings testimonies from three different parts of the world: from Germany, Israel, and Chicago IL. Finally, the participant were be invited to share their own story, providing an additional testimony if they wished to do so.
The project uses COVID-19 as a platform of reflection on difficult subjects, such as privilege, racism, and bias.
It reflects on the relation of dominant groups towards members of minority groups in different societies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientifically, it aimed to increase the level of empathy of people toward those who are less seen and less considered – in this case, the minority of Muslim refugees in Germany.
We created an online performative meeting format, where a German audience is invited to have one-on-one conversations with actresses from the US. This 30-minute-long experience contains multiple layers of meanings and invited different readings from its participants. These layers were created by mixing content from different worlds and by collaborating and inviting multiple partners to contribute to the project.
One of the collaborators in this project is visual artist Lali Fruheling, who created custom-made domestic backgrounds for our online platform, as a playful takeoff on the COVID quarantine situation, and the intimacy revealed (or in this case, not revealed since the digital backgrounds hide the actual domestic spaces of the performers) while we all interact digitally from home. Fruheling’s images refer to danger, chaos, and destruction of the domestic, reflecting on the loss of sense of safety, and the constant overexposure we experience.
This project contains a mix of questions and actions that challenge the audience, both visually and emotionally. It blends controversial and sensitive issues like our feelings towards exiles and refugees who arrive in “our” countries and confronts the participants’ national identities and sense of belonging. It tackles difficult and emotional subjects, but also uses humor and performative techniques to create an elevating experience of intimacy and solidarity. We used the online platform to our advantage – creating a meeting between performers and audience from two different sides of the world, a unique moment of intimacy in a time of social distance.
Art and Science: Einat Amir, Yossi Hasson
Visuals: Lali Fruheling
Text contributions and performative consulting: Risha Tenae
Performers: Krystel Mcneil, Nevada Montgomery, Eliza Myrie, Risha Tenae
Hosts: Janika Heun, Lee Cockshott, Sophie Pulkus
Costumes and production assistance: Vidushi Lohia
Supported by: Körber-Stiftung, Kampnagel Hamburg, Artport Tel Aviv, Hyde Park Art Center