Tell Me What I Can Do
Tania El Khoury
Goodhart Hall Common Room, Bryn Mawr CollegeMap
“Horror and confusion on a mass scale are heartbreaking, then numbing; it is easier to understand sociopolitical upheaval when you are connected, heart-to-heart, to another story.” Monica Uszerowicz, BOMB
Tania El Khoury’s Gardens Speak asks audience members to share experiences of the piece. Twenty-eight showings of Gardens Speak across five continents produced a large number of audience letters. These handwritten messages, artifacts of each performance, provide insight into the varied audience experiences of Gardens Speak, including their reflections on politics, empathy, loss, and death.
The letters were first conceptualized as a message of solidarity that would be written by audiences around the world and sent back to the families and friends of the deceased whose stories they shared. As the pile of letters kept growing, El Khoury realized that the contents of letters were overwhelmingly complex, messy, and intimate. They could not be reduced to a simple message of solidarity.
“Tell me what I can do” is a sentence written in a number of letters in which audience members seek advice after hearing the martyrs’ stories. In this newly commissioned work for ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury, the artist asks the audience for guidance on what to do with accumulated material that we regard as evidence of our encounter and our shared responsibility. In addition to the letters, the installation features responses to the letters from some of the early collaborators in the making of Gardens Speak. However, not all audience letters made it into this installation. Some were lost along the way, confiscated by police. Others will be buried in the ground, never to be read.
Presented in partnership with Bryn Mawr College as part of ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury.
Created by Tania El Khoury Space Design Abir Saksouk Sound Pieces Kinana Issa, Mohamed Nour “Abo Gabi” Ahmed, Mohamed Ali “Dali” Agrebi. Translation Ziad Abu-Rish Installation Coordinator Jon Weary
Photos Tania El Khoury
Tell Me What I Can Do 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.
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.