Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 45

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS through direct contact versus secondary representations, and witnessing via digital and multimedia platforms. To bear witness requires the individual to engage with the outside world�both inside and outside performance spaces. The five Fellows in the Witness group acknowledged this dynamic as they opened deliberations for Day 4. They used their individual presentations to provide snapshots of how they encounter acts of witnessing in each of their artistic practices. Chris Creegan exposed the role of place in witnessing by reading aloud Tony Walsh’s poem “This Is the Place,” a meditation on Manchester’s history and legacy the artist orated in public in the wake of the May 2017 terrorist attacks. Acknowledging his ties to his native Manchester, Chris stated to the group that they may not appreciate the dialect or regional references as he does because “they’re not of your place; they’re of mine.” For Jumana Al-Yasiri, place was not local, or even regional, but a transnational connection to the Arab Spring for those like her, born in Damascus, Syria, who have been affected by the violence. Jumana spoke about her reaction to last night’s performance of Ramy: In the frontline, Essam’s multimedia retelling of his personal experience as symbol of Egyptian resistance during the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. She stated that while she is not Egyptian, the tribulations Ramy: In the frontline bears witness to something that “happened to all of us.” With the Witness theme occurring near the midpoint of the week-long Global Cultural Fellows programme, the speakers were able draw on previous discussions to make connections between themes. Devika Ranjan related her interpretation of Lal Batti Express. She found significance in how the performers used their bodies to express their testimony of prostitution in India. Devika facilitated partner-based movement exercises between the Fellows in order for them to understand first-hand how movement and stillness can communicate acts of bearing witness. Following yesterday’s small-group discussions, the Fellows proceeded to break out into their “World Café,” which emulates the free movement between conversations in coffee shops and salons. Devika’s group focused on the ethics of witnessing; Marika Constantino initiated a dialogue on creating platforms for witnessing; Caitlin Nasema Cassidy asked her group to articulate the responsibilities of bearing witness; Jumana led a discussion on the artist and witness; Chris used “World Café” to elaborate on place as a central factor to bearing witness. The “World Café” and the subsequent large-group dialogue highlighted how bearing witness intervenes in political and social tensions, but also demonstrated that bearing witness is a deliberate action. Reem Alsayyah explained her decision to perform in The Queens of Syria, based on hers and peers’ experiences with the violence in Syria. She said, “I felt it was my responsibility to be a witness and not a victim.” 44