Update from Qudus' blog

Sep 17, 2010

MY EXILE is in my head


Inspired by Wole Soyinka’s prison notes - "THE MAN DIED."

Conception, choreographed and performed by Qudus ONIKEKU.
Original music performed live by Charles Amblard. Video conception and performance
Isaak Lartey. Light designer Guillaume Fesneau.

Production : YK Projects
with the support of: Centre National des Arts du Cirque,
Centre National de la Danse, Bates Dance Festival Maine - USA and DRAC Ile de France

...More than a word, exile is a condition. It is a place, a knowledge, a narrative, but most importantly, it is a psychic space which is obvious to those who inhibit it, those who must engage and wrestle with it because only by so doing can they come to terms with it. Exile is poignant because it is bracketed by loss, it is not so much about movement, relocation or departure as it is about loss: of territory, of the familiar and the familial, of certainty, but most frighteningly, by the grave probability of the loss of memory.

Exile is a rupture, the cessation of things previously taken for granted, the collapse of a world of relative certainties, and therein lies its stings. It also underlines the inescapable desirability of belonging. It may be questioned, even ridiculed, but only those who have experience such loss can understand the rootlessness - and ruthlessness - of existence in the shiftless, treacherous territory of exile. Exile offers a refuge, but no consolation or pride. Every engagement with the lived experience of exile finds its most persuasive explanation not in fascination for there is no such thing as fascination for exile, but rather in the individual quest to come to terms with the fact of exile.

Every such effort is an attempt to explain exile more to oneself than to others. Through art the exiled is able to escape the burden of circumstance, even the temptation of bitterness and recrimination, and instead question, explore, ruminate, and attempt to repossess fragments of that which is lost. Through art the exile may return, in a manner of speaking, by reconstituting the past, participating in the present, as well as envisioning a new world.

( Nigerian artist, art historian and poet exiled in USA)

Through this piece I intend to deal with personal questions of home, belonging, non-belonging and exile. Above that, I also thought about creating a new homogeneous work, adaptable for conventional theatres as well as alternative spaces. At the moment, I am confronted with questions of other art making processes, through multiple improvisations; how DANCE, CIRCUS, LITERATURE, STORY TELLING, MUSIC AND VIDEO ART, could organically come together almost as a coincidence. An approach that involves the performers' bodies and the audience's eyes, the music we produce and the space that reunites us.

All these converging forces involved in this research laboratory will at the end become the incarnation of the performance in any given space and time. It is a challenge for us to think of a collective and new art making process, with an indefinite character, to create a deliberate contrast to the traditional incarceration of our works in-between four walls, and perhaps a response to the changing social and economic realities of the art world.


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