“His tale doesn’t just touch me in a fleeting way—as the many stories and images reported in the newspapers do—it goes further. It marks me.” The Guardian
“Trust is inherent to As Far As My Fingertips Take Me. Both on Basel’s part and mine. He entrusted me with his story, and I entrusted him with my body for that short period. It was an exchange that has left me reeling.” Kaila Schedeen, Fusebox Festival
This 12-minute, one-on-one installation performance is an encounter through a gallery wall between an audience member and a refugee. Their arms and fingertips touch without them seeing each other. The refugee marks the audience member with the story of a family’s journey from Syria to Sweden as the audience member listens on headphones to those who have challenged border discrimination. When the performance ends, those stories can be kept or washed away.
As Far As My Fingertips Take Me is made in collaboration with musician and street artist Basel Zaraa, who is from Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria. Tania El Khoury commissioned Zaraa to record a rap song inspired by the journey his sisters made from Damascus to Sweden. Through touch and sound, this intimate encounter explores empathy and whether we need to literally “feel” a refugee in order to understand the effect of border discrimination on peoples’ lives.
Our fingertips facilitate touch and sensations, but are also used by authorities to track us. The Dublin Regulation mandated a fingerprinting database across Europe for all refugees and migrants. The regulation means that a refugee is sent back to where their fingertips where first recorded, without any regard to their needs, desires, or plans. In today’s world, a refugee’s journey can continue as far as their fingertips take them.
Presented in partnership with Bryn Mawr College as part of ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury.
Pii Gallery: $15
242 Race Street
Performances begin every 15 minutes for an audience of one. Sign up for a time slot when you purchase your ticket. Please plan to arrive 10 minutes before your performance time. Walk up sales are cash only.
Bryn Mawr College: FREE
Taft Garden at Bryn Mawr College
Between Goodhart Hall and Canaday Library
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
At Bryn Mawr College, tickets will not be reserved in advance. Sign up in person in Taft Garden on a first-come, first-served basis.
Created by Tania El Khoury Performed by Basel Zaraa Song by Basel Zaraa (vocals, bass and keyboard) with Emily Churchill Zaraa (vocals), Pete Churchill (music production), and Katie Stevens (flute and clarinet)
Photos Tania El Khoury (except where indicated), Nada Zgank
Commissioned by “On the Move” LIFT 2016 in partnership with Royal Court Theatre, London.
As Far As My Fingertips Take Me is part of ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury. Major support for ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury has been provided to Bryn Mawr College by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Festival Co-Producers: Lynne & Bertram Strieb
About Tania El Khoury
Tania El Khoury is a live artist whose work focuses on audience interactivity and is concerned with the ethical and political potential of such encounters. She creates installations and performances in which the audience is an active collaborator. Her solo work has toured internationally and has been recognized with Anti Festival’s International Prize for Live Art, the Total Theatre Innovation Award, and the Arches Brick Award.
Tania holds a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research and publications focus on the political dimension of interactive live art in the wake of the Arab uprisings.
Tania is associated with Forest Fringe collective of artists in the UK and is a co-founder of Dictaphone Group in Lebanon, a research and performance collective aiming at questioning our relationship to the city, and redefining its public space.
Learn more about the artist at taniaelkhoury.com.
In “Defiance,” which features in As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, Basel Zaraa raps in Arabic:
Crossing the border means leaving behind a 75% chance of death
Not from random shelling, barrel bombs, or even whippings
You enter, and just like everyone else, you nod your head
With each rejection
Say what you like, but all this won’t cost you more than $1000
Don’t ask me why or for what
Half of it bribes for the army and the police in Turkey
And the rest to live on and for the guys to get drunk with
Then it’s just your luck with the sea
In short, you either beat it, or it beats you
This part will also cost you $1000
In the boats, all the faces are stressed
Holding their breaths
Bracing their wounds
They’ve heard so much gunfire
They no longer feel anything
They no longer feel anything
Writing about As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, art critic Lyn Garder explained in The Guardian, “His tale doesn’t just touch me in a fleeting way — as the many stories and images reported in the newspapers do – it goes further. It marks me. For the next few days I will carry it around with me. It is part of me, not easily ignored or washed away. Every time I roll up my sleeves or wash my hands I am confronted by the images and rerun Zaraa’s story in my mind. I can’t get away from it.” Read more here
Journalist Lorna Irvine wrote in The List, “Every single delicate stroke of the pen’s nib carries weight — each figure inked onto skin represents the fight for survival, a symbol of solidarity, and the music is elegiac yet defiant, a beautiful testament to a struggle rewritten each day. And unlike the ink across the forearm, these struggles can never be erased.” Read more here