Just came across this short video from Tehran yesterday, the text of which I’d read earlier. I think the video is quite something, for all sorts of reasons. Bitterly so I guess, after the accumulating horrors we saw and read about today.
1 of my friends says 'i wish i could wake up & c every thing has been a dream'/ thats also my wish, 2 go back to my old life #iranelection 4 minutes ago from Twitterfox
Posted by one of the Iranian protestors, preparing for the banned Sea of Green silent march today. And then in the next post:
we will try to keep this rally peaceful & silent as usual at every cost. cant give them excuse to use force. hope they wont #iranelection 1 minute ago from the web.
# فردا در کل ایران اعتصاب عمومی – میر حسین موسوی 3 minutes ago from web
# pedestrians avoid military baraks off Pasdaran St – something is going to happen from there – #Iranelection 3 minutes ago from web
# large number of plain clothes with bikes hiding in military barraks off Pasdaran – dont know what they are planning – #Iranelection 4 minutes ago from web
# Moussavi – calling national strike tomorrow – all Iran – #Iranelection 6 minutes ago from web
# Gohardasht in Karaj – confirmed – people in street batles with militia – #Iranelection 10 minutes ago from web
# we passed thru shemiran, Pasdaran St is full of cars and people and security is tight – #Iranelection 12 minutes ago from web
# normally at this time tehran is quiet – last 2 days is crazy – #Iranelection 15 minutes ago from web
# Everywhere the city is under pressure – cars tooting, people running motorbikes in large groups, fires and people chanting #Iranelection 16 minutes ago from web
# unconfirmed – Dr’s reporting ‘several’ dead from Azadi sq today. seeking names; #Iranelection 27 minutes ago from web
# confirmed – homeowners in Rasht are giving refuge to people running from Baseej attacks. #Iranelection 31 minutes ago from web
# 3 of our group missing from afternoon – we have no news from them; #Iranelection 32 minutes ago from web
# khamenei website is back online – waas hacked before – #Iranelection 35 minutes ago from web
# were attacked in streets by mob on motorbikes with batons – firing guns into air – streetfires all over town – roads closed; #Iranelection 37 minutes ago from web
# we are online – new location – 3 phonelines – ; #Iranelection 39 minutes ago from web
I’d been pretty much immune to Twitter until the last couple of days when I started to follow events in Iran via the channel #Iranelection – basically an aggregate of all tweets tagged #Iranelection. From there it’s easy to separate the very numerous re-tweets, long-distance comments and repetitions from the rather more on-the-ground and eyewitness information. The block of quote above is from one particular person. I think I lost most of this afternoon to following the story there, esp once the news of the killings at Azadi Square… following links to youTube and Flickr, reading longer articles from newspapers (this piece by Robert Fisk in yesterday’s Independent) but always coming back to the urgent constant and real time stream of narrative fragments on Twitter. Too wrapped up in it to say anything really at this point but the feelings – of connection and impotence combined – are strong.
He could still remember the grim, ugly room, with the net curtains choking the daylight as it bled weakly through from outside, the repeat-patterned wallpaper repeating it's pattern in all directions, the dark furniture everywhere and the terrorvision in the corner – a strange device something like a games console but in which the avatars were isolated, somehow beyond interaction with the outside world, trapped in a set of events, and left talking to each other. Life on the terrorvision seemed to mainly consist of pursuits or explosions, or gun battles or weeping and talking, a lot of talking and some car chases for punctuation and it was hard to imagine really why people back then in the oldendays liked the terrorvision so much,how strange they must have been as people, sat in front of that thing just watching and watching and watching, their eyes getting bigger and bigger each day… sad, inert and watching.
Meanwhile, at the hotel stuffed full of the roadies, bands, groupies, stray fans and others from the nearby Metal Music Festival the over-hearable parts of the conversation are strictly exchanges of 100% cliche.
At the top of the stairs in the brightly lit foyer one younger and one older rocker (both in black jeans, long hair, tour-tshirts, tats, piercings) linger, stood still at 2am, the older guy shorter, looking into space as he talks, the other looking straight at him.
– It's different…
– It is different. I mean it's not the 70's, it's not the 80's, it's not even the 90's… it's the 'noughts' as we call them… I think it's a valid album. It's, you know, it's where we're at now.
– I liked this album just like the rest – it's got good songs on it and you know, I always liked your live shows. I saw a lot of bands from the 70's and a lot of them a boring. But you guys…
Two others slumped at a table, one says to the other:
It's a difficult time for us. People are saying, you know, can't you help him, can't you help him..Yeah.But he doesn't, he's got to want to help himself. You can't help someone that doesn't want to help themselves…?
Best of all in the bar, two blokes sat at the bar itself, your sight of them eclipsed by the pillar.
– That's metal. It's not about guitars. It's not about drums. It's about attitude.
– Beethoven. You could say that he was the first Heavy Metal really.
The eviscerated brownpaper bag carcass of a large McDonalds finds shelter by a low wall, the corpse disassembled in all directions, cold fries scattered like bones, those white plastic containers of dipping sauce that were her eyes, the foil lids peeled back on pools of dark congealing red. It is morning en route to the train station and elsewhere on the pavement a rain of crushed Tic Tacs has fallen, like a strange gift of the early sky.
Later, as the sunlight floods the glass sides of the long covered walkway between terminals, a single bird, incongruous, beautiful, flies its whole indoor length, tracing the same line as the travelator, skimming just below the white steel structure of the ceiling and just above the heads of the few bleary passengers who trundle luggage towards check-in. The bird is a straight line factored with a single undulation, a line drawn in the air, an articulation of pure direction, and opposite from yours.
Classic thunderstorm. The sky flickering on and off in great planes of white light. The rain and thunder sound like heavy trucks moving down below in the street. Here in this place, with the high windows and the long curtains/drapes the storm feels as much Dracula as it does real life. You pad to the bathroom after waking around 3am, barefoot, not turning on the lights because you don't want to ruin the scene, and the shapes of your belongings, the furniture and the unfamiliar landscape of the room are picked out in the flashes here and there. The suck and turbulence of the night wind at the partly open window throws the curtains in a maze of strange directions – panicked flapping, wrenching, twisting, inflating like a sail, breathing them in and out, yanking at the rings which bind them to the pole, the water of rain spitting in and out of the edges of the darkened, flashing aperture. When you stand at the window (heading back to the bed) and look down you see the rain sheeting the pavement and the car roofs, even the tall trees below you torque, wrench and knot in the gale, flimsy and helpless.
Starting next week I have a project Thirty-Nine Or So To Do at Tanzquartier Wien as part of their Giving (up) instructions programme which is subtitled ‘On precarious instructions for action’. The work – evolved from and remixing my previous SMS project Surrender Control – involves a series of SMS instructions sent to subscribers/participants over the eleven-day duration of the project.
TIM ETCHELLS (UK). Thirty-Nine Or So To Do.
Thur. 26 May – 5 June 2009. Interactive SMS Project.
Senders and receivers of an SMS text message normally know one another personally; every mobile-phone number saved thus tells the story of a friendship, acquaintance, of trust in advance. In his project Thirty-Nine Or So To Do, Tim Etchells, director of the Sheffield-based performance group Forced Entertainment, uses this individual aspect of SMS communication on a group of people who are unknown to him. Over a period of 11 days, Etchells sends SMS instructions to various participants – whispers them, as it were, into the ears of strangers. The messages range from simple instructions, such as ‘go outside’, to complex ambiguous invitations, such as ‘take a risk’. In the field of tension between intimacy and anonymity, a space develops in which our everyday life can be perceived anew in the interplay of the instructions of the game and individual responsibility. Registration from mid April by SMS to mobile phone number +43 664 660 ** **, code word SUBSCRIBE (limited number of participants).
Production: Tanzquartier Wien, Giving (up) instructions – programme.
Opening sequence for an Americanised TV show about some guys who are working to politicise the dead.
Bar late at night. Everyone at the table has had too much to drink.
Trouble is the fat guy says, they got so little profile, so little motivation and no organisation whatsoever.
What do you expect? says some newcomer rookie bearing tray full of drinks – the dead have nowhere to live..
Hey, says a jaded looking woman, we don’t call them dead round here, we call them Deceased.
Fat Guy: Whatever. Don’t mind her, bad day. The next round is on me… Their possessions get dished out to others, their properties get taken away from them..
Plus – (another rookie, this one a Latino) – you even try to get a lawyer, a cop or a social worker to speak to… the deceased and see how fast you get laughed out of the room.
Brunette With Attitude: “NO DOGS. NO DECEASED” I saw that sign.
Fat Guy: On top of that, on top of that even – most of them are confused.
Jaded Woman (laughing): Yeah. Worse than the schizos.
Rookie One: Whaddya mean?
Fat Guy: Most of these guys just don’t know how the world works anymore.
Another Fat Guy: I never saw such cluelessness.
Rookie Two (Latino): PLUS the dead are getting shafted day in and day out on issues like intellectual property. It’s basic stuff.
Rookie One: Underdogs?
Another Fat Guy: Those suckers make illegals look lucky.
Brunette With Attitude: So hard to get them motivated. And so hard to get them to think about the bigger picture.
Fat Guy: Some Deceased been that way a long time and they still can’t see further than the accident or the fact their husband remarried so quick. Try getting them interested in Unionisation? Or a protest march of some kind? Forget about it.
Meanwhile, on another note, liking this from Lars Von Trier at a Cannes Press Conference for his horror movie Antichrist.
“I don’t have to justify myself. I make films and I enjoy very much making them. You are all my guests, it’s not the other way round. I work for myself and I do this little film that I’m now kind of fond of and I haven’t done it for you or the audience so I don’t feel I owe anyone an explanation.”
And watch out for the mockingbirds.
Looking forward to seeing Young Jean Lee‘s performance The Shipment again next week in KunstenFestivaldesArts. I’ve been meaning for ages to write something about Young Jean. I saw her third piece Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven in Toulouse last year, at least a year after everyone else saw it, since it seemed to play in almost very festival of contemporary theatre I came across – usually a week before we arrived or a week after we left. Dragons.. was a response to the experience and representation of Korean people in America – it was strong, funny and playfully self-conscious. Her new work The Shipment is also about racial stereotypes, racism and representation esp, this time, in respect of African Americans. When I met her last year she was in the middle of a very tough workshopping process on the piece and had already junked one whole version of the it. She’s since junked a second version too and the completed show is basically version three. What I find interesting about Young Jean (a Korean-American Shakespeare scholar who quit her research on the West Coast, moved to New York and wanted to make a theatre that didn’t really seem to exist) is that in many ways she comes from outside the by-now well known patterns of contemporary devised performance. Her approach seems close to ours at times for sure -her writing and making processes are deeply collaborative, full of discussions, opportunities for interventions by the performers. I can also say that the mode of trying endless mixes, remixes, variations or versions of the material until coming up with something that seems to function also rings a bell from our own laborious processes! (We have a joke in the rehearsals often that our method is to try every bad idea first, slowly eliminating them from our enquries until we get to what’s interesting.) Young Jean is also pretty obsessed with the role of the audience and with shifting the relationship between the work and those watching. What’s different though is that Young Jean’s work often takes place in or around the realm of the dramatic – and in the mix of what she does you’re likely to find characters talking to each other, dramatic scenes and stories and at least a hint of the kind of representation that (out where Forced Ents have tended to live at least) you won’t see too much of these days. Even a quick glance at Young Jean’s work though and you see that it stays far from the zone of realism or well-made-plays. You aware that everything on stage exists inside one or more sets of quotation marks, and any reading you make of what’s happening is of necessity an uneasy one – you’re required to watch and read and to watch yourself watching and reading, and at the same time to watch the watching and reading of those around you in the auditorium. I saw The Shipment in New York when it opened at the start of the year and I really liked it – it’s a brave and refreshing piece, a tight symphony of discomfort. And it’s so great to see issues like racial and cultural identity taken on in this headlong, smart, self-conscious way. When you watch Young Jean Lee and her great group of performers get to work in this piece – blurring between stand up, fast forward narrative and sustained ironic/not-ironic drama – you get a hint of what’s left inside the theatre machine, and a great reminder that we shouldn’t leave politics to the realists.
If you want to, watch Hitting Video – prologue video to Young Jean’s Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven. Watch a clip from the show. Watch a long conversation between Young Jean and Philip Bither of the Walker Arts Centre, Minneapolis.