When some months ago Shirin Neshat told me this project, her telling gave me gooseflesh remembering me another breathtaking project (Passage) she created some years ago with the collaboration of American composer Philip Glass. In that artwork Shirin Neshat talked about the inevitability of certain circles (death and rebirth, darkness and light, etc.) and with her words she “used symbolism to meditate on tradition and tell the story of human loss, hope and renewal in the face of existential mystery wonderment and awe”.
On the occasion of Misteri e Fuochi (Mysteries and Fires) an international project organized by Teatro Pubblico Pugliese (Bari, Italy) from September, 24 to 27 this year is focused on the theme “pilgrimage”, the spiritual and cathartic path through the territories intersecting the visions of the passion and contemporary suffering. Puglia, the land in which I was born, a land of fires, mysteries, processions and Saints, hosts one of the three pilgrimage routes to the Holy Land and it has always been considered the Door of the Orient. Here in Puglia the route of gathering is also the route of passion, myriads of processions and sacred rituals linked to the Via Crucis remind it; a place where very ancient spiritual traditions may encounter reflections on the contemporary man’s condition, a place of transit in which to leave a mark.
For this special occasion Shirin Neshat and her life partner Shoja Azari worked on the images, video and space concept of the project while Mohsen Namjoo on music, vocals and live performance to create a great masterpiece availing the participation of Faraualla Vocal Ensemble and the Mourning Woman of Bari Old Town. In fact after having visited the city of Bari emblematically projected for centuries as an ideal bridge between the European and Middle East culture, the three artists involve a group of women of the old city, last witnesses of the mourning rites in funeral ceremonies, and the vocal ensemble Faraualla, committed to the preservation of traditional music and popular songs of Puglia. Musical forms and echoes of the Islamic culture intersect with elements of the Christian culture and religion in an experience of genuine artistic and creative crossover, a real reverse shot to the echo of dramatic events of violence and intolerance that bring bloodshed to our days.
The project commissioned by TPP Teatro Pubblico Pugliese, curated by Franco Laera and produced by Change Performing Arts will be showed on September, 25 at 7.30 pm and 9.30 pm; September, 26 at 7.30 pm and 9.30 pm; September, 27 at 6.30 pm and 9.30 pm. All the shows are free and you can book your seat here
Photo credit: Shirin Neshat, Rebellious Silence (1994). B&W RC print & ink, photo by Cynthia Preston. Copyright Shirin Neshat. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels