Can a city die?


A director’s note about #minaret by Omar Rajeh

Can a city die? And with it the values, ideals, principles, history, and culture that embodied it? Would it be possible to revive its presence? This performance is an act of resistance against the demolition and destruction of one of the oldest cities in the World. It is an encounter between contemporary dance, visual arts, and a soundscape inspired from the classical musical heritage of Aleppo. A meeting that takes us into the heart of the city, digging into its cultural and artistic heritage and questioning our position towards the act of its destruction today. What remains? Everything moves, changes, and shifts around us. We experience turmoil of human, social, religious, and political conflicts. A ‘big bazar’ of lost human values and brainwashed minds. We witness a sickening applause to extremism, conservatism, and fanaticism.

Violence / Violation
While witnessing the destruction of a city and the killing and suffering of people, we ask ourselves many questions. What can I do? Do I have to do something? Am I guilty? Do I ignore it? What is my role? Am I able to change anything?
It becomes obvious that in front of the scale of atrocities and the silence of the international world we find ourselves helpless and powerless. This performance focuses on the specific moment of questioning our position and where we stand. How do we act and how are we able to respond responsibly and according to our human values?

This opens a further discussion into the role of culture and the ability of art to initiate change, to resist effectively and play a role in defending human values. Moreover, to ask how it is possible to open opportunities of change rather than fix the structures and mentalities criticized. It seems urgent to ask whom are we resisting against. Is it the fighting opponents, the conflicting parties, that are a result or an outcome, or the underneath hidden logic and policy that controls our World. The barbaric destruction of Aleppo brings me back to the destruction of my own city Beirut in 1982 by Israeli Warplanes, and the ongoing Civil War. It highlights, at the same time, the destruction of many cities in recent history. The demolition of Aleppo today and similarly of Grozny or Berlin in thepast, is not a natural disaster, it is a clear and direct decision of elimination. Not only the elimination of buildings in a city but also its inhabitants, culture, history, values, and future.

We are puzzled in front of our screens, witnessing such atrocities through the Media and we follow the daily ‘listings and calendar’ of violence. An absurd fictional scenario, or this is how it may seem, alienates us more and distances us even further. Reality is shifted by the oppressor, which not only has the ‘authority’ to destroy but also to manipulate our position towards it.


#minaret can be seen on Friday November 1st at SPRING in Autumn. 

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