As part of the events leading up to the second Karachi Biennale, KBT (Karachi Biennale Trust) and Goethe Institut invited artist and choreographer Isabel Lewis to lead a workshop with performance artists from Karachi, Jamshoro, and Lahore. Lewis is a Dominican born choreographer, who is currently based in Berlin. Trained in literary criticism, dance, and philosophy, her body of work is diverse from lecture-performances and workshops to music sessions, and what she calls “hosted occasions.”
Lewis has created works around topics such as open source technology and dance improvisation, social dances as cultural storage systems, collaborative creative formats, future bodily techniques, and rapping as embodied speech acts. Drawing from her background in choreography and literary criticism, Lewis investigates the role of the artist and the role of the host.
The two day experimental workshop culminated in a public performance titled Communal EPIC (Experience in Performing Instantly Created) Fiction, exploring creative new sites of imagining and being, through social interaction. The performance played out in 3 rounds of varying length, 10, 20, and 5 minutes respectively. Prior to each round Lewis explained the rules the audience, giving the entire exercise a game like appeal.
Lewis engaged the audience with the idea of their own complicity in the performance, stepping away from the rigid audience and performer binary established in most theatrical performances. This immersive aspect of the performance created a spontaneity and hence an instantly created fiction.
Upon entering the space the audience interacts with a mix of auditory and performance based stimuli. Together with the performers, the audience composes this situational choreography. Interestingly even the decision to not participate made one feel complicit in the performance, by virtue of baring witness to it. One performer narrated the actions taking place on a microphone and posed one questions to ponder over, another distributed articles of clothing to audience members who wore them or left them or handed them elsewhere. Every action seemed to be a consequence of what had followed before, thus each round of the performance became a distinct piece.
At one point the performer enacted what seemed to be the funeral rites of another. Each performer seemed to be a character reacting to what was happening and moving with purpose in the space, leaving the audience to decipher who they were what triggered their actions.
The performance was followed by a brief introduction of the project by Bushra Hussain, Secretary General of KBT and certificate ceremony for the workshop participants.
The workshop was in collaboration with Goethe Institut, Karachi and NAPA.
For more information regarding Karachi Biennale visit: www.karachibiennale.org.pk