Enfolding the Arts Is Our Story

Enfolding multidisciplinary arts into Transept exhibitions has been an important part of the group and a priority for me since I participated in planning the first exhibition. And each year since, I have delighted in enfolding one art form into another – producing performances in the visual art exhibition space; incorporating poetry, monologues and music in staged performances; and even performing inside an installation piece one year.

This year’s exhibition was especially meaningful in such a way, not only because the theme itself was ‘Enfolding’ or because my visual art and performance pieces were connected, but also because of deep interconnections between them and the offerings of two other artists. Their stories were reflected in the interconnections.

My installation piece, titled ‘Stoned.’, was an expression of the oppression I observed in Palestine, where stones are the only tool of protest in the West Bank, and have been used aggressively as weapons, including one used against me, an unwitting tourist in the Old City of Jerusalem (hence the title of the piece). See this link for a description.

The idea for this piece arose from my memory of those encounters there, particularly as they are relevant to an online Playback Theatre performance – titled ‘Being on the Inside / Being on the Outside’ – that I did with my company, Mosaic, as part of a Festival for Palestine. The point of the festival was to hear from people whose voices are so often silenced and whose struggles on the margin are dismissed, but also for any in attendance to share experiences of feeling displaced or unheard. This performance and topic inspired not only my ‘Stoned.’ piece, but also two others, in visual and performance art:

Julia MacLaurin, friend and fellow Transept artist, attended this online Playback performance, and afterwards was inspired to do her piece, ‘Displacement’, initially created from hammering ice to depict fragmentation and displacement from a homeland.

Anastasia Vorobyeva, friend and fellow Playback practitioner originally from Russia and now a refugee, was inspired by the Festival for Palestine and other festivals in which stories of those displaced were shared. She has been living her story of displacement and leaning into both visual and the performing arts to share it and process it, since she had to flee her homeland in February 2022. Her poignant sketch, ‘we are orphans now’ illustrates the pain of her displacement. She accompanied the sketches with this video of her finding a way to be with her girlfriend.
The ‘Enfolding our Stories’ Playback performance brought all of these pieces together, full circle. Especially delightful was that both Julia and Anastasia were present and shared their stories. Anastasia was able to Zoom in to the performance on a large screen tv, share her story and see it played back. I cannot think of a more apropos example of enfolding. All of it, it all interconnects. Thank God.

Author

  • Karen is finishing a PhD program in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts after careers in corporate management, consulting, and pastoral and theatre ministry. She explores theological and theatrical contexts of ’empty space’ and general human disposition toward it, with emphasis on improvisation (specifically Playback Theatre) and Holy Saturday. Since 2017, Karen has led or advised ITIA’s Transept group, a postgraduate-led group of multidisciplinary practicing artists. Karen was an editor for Transpositions from 2017 to 2022. As Editor-in-Chief, she fostered a closer partnership between Transpositions and Transept, hosted the In/break exhibition on the Transpositions site, and introduced regular series into the publishing schedule.

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